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AIF unveils Festival Congress 2017 programme

The Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) has announced further details of its flagship event in Cardiff, featuring a two-day conference and the Independent Festival Awards.  
Confirmed for 30–31 October, the fourth annual Festival Congress will play host to over 400 delegates, but possibly for the last time in the Welsh capital, as bids to organise and host the congress are currently under consideration.
Extending the ‘Pseudoscience’ theme of this year, the first day of the conference will take place within the spectacular surroundings of National Museum Cardiff, with the second day at the Wales Millennium Centre (WMC) featuring a packed day of smaller-scale panels and workshops entitled ‘Festivals Under the Microscope’.  
Festival Congress is a ‘must-attend’ date in the festival and live music calendar. Expect debates on key industry-wide issues, enlightening workshops and illuminating speakers.  
The first day of the conference will see a headline panel discussion on AIF’s ‘Safer Spaces’ campaign featuring Kate Lloyd (features editor, Time Out), Rebecca Hitchen (Rape Crisis South London), Tracey Wise (Safe Gigs for Women) and Ami Lord (Standon Calling), in addition to a Question Time-style political debate that will include UK Music CEO Michael Dugher and YouRope general secretary Christof Huber.
There will be 15 separate workshops on the second day, with topics ranging from counter-terrorism training, crisis communications, digital marketing trends and staff welfare to direct licensing and festival growing pains. Among the features are Instagram for live events delivered by Music Ally and top tips for contingency planning delivered by the Event Safety Shop.
AIF is also partnering with Musicians Union for a discussion of line-ups and gender at festivals featuring MU artists and AIF promoters.    
The ‘Building new worlds’ panel will explore how creative production, visual arts, décor, interactive experiences and installations contribute to a festival’s identity. Among the panel, with some of the most creative brains in the industry, are House of Bestival and others. There will be a ‘Sustainability focus’ session curated by Shambala festival in addition to new quick-fire talks on booking artists by Ian Evans (IME Music), upscaling events and managing growth by Nick Morgan (The Fair) and the progress of the Fanfair Alliance on secondary ticketing by Annabella Coldrick (CEO of the Music Managers Forum).
Previously announced speakers include a keynote from John McGrath (artistic director, Manchester International Festival), Zoe Cormier (Author of Sex, Drugs & Rock N Roll: The Science of Hedonism and the Hedonism of Science) and John Kampfner (chief executive, Creative Industries Federation).
AIF general manager Paul Reed commented: “Following an eventful season, Festival Congress is an invaluable forum to debate the issues, challenges and opportunities facing the festival sector. We’re pleased to announce our most eclectic group of speakers and topics yet. From a day at the museum to the awards party and a packed day of festivals under the microscope, the event promises be a fun and informative couple of days.”      
The Independent Festival Awards takes place on the evening of 30 October at DEPOT, Cardiff, followed by a dedicated after-party at The Big Top venue. Awards nominees will be announced in October.
Tickets to the AIF Festival Congress are on sale now at £100 for AIF members, £135 for Friends of AIF and £200 on general sale available through headline sponsor The TicketSellers. Visit www.festivalcongress.com for tickets.
PlayPass are the exclusive RFID partner for the Congress and BIMM will again be the educational partner.
Attendees include notable festival organisers from the likes of Glastonbury, Bestival, Boomtown Fair, Kendal Calling, Shambala, End of the Road, Liverpool Sound City and many more. The event also invites speakers from every corner of the music sphere with a speaker alumni of Jude Kelly OBE (artistic director, Southbank Centre), Huw Stephens (Radio One and Swn Festival co-founder), Simon Parkes (founder, Brixton Academy), Professor Tim O’Brien (Jodrell Bank observatory), Robert Richards (commercial director, Glastonbury) and many more.