festival congress

Association of Independent Festivals announces Festival Congress 2017

Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) has announced its annual event will return to Cardiff for its fourth year in October.

The Festival Congress will play host to an incredible ‘Pseudoscience’ theme, set to play homage to the nonsensical and weird experiments made by scientists and festival promoters alike.

The standout event will be led by a keynote by artistic director and CEO of Manchester International Festival, John McGrath, in addition to quick fire talks from renowned author Zoe Cormier about her book Sex, drugs and rock n roll: The science of hedonism and the hedonism of science, and John Kampfner, chief executive of the Creative Industries Federation, who will speak about creative industry ‘red lines’ on Brexit.

There will also be a ‘Question time’ style panel exploring political issues in relation to festivals and featuring some leading lights of the independent festival world, with other key topics at the conference including event security, welfare, booking processes, up scaling small festivals and creative production. Another headline panel discussion will explore the next steps of AIF’s ‘Safer spaces’ campaign, which reiterated the zero tolerance approach that festivals have to sexual assault with a 24 hour coordinated website ‘black out’ in May.

Held in Cardiff’s Wales Millennium Centre (WMC) on 30-31 October, the Festival Congress is a major fixture in the festival industry calendar.

“We’re back for a fourth year with Festival Congress, the ultimate conference and festival party for the independents,” said AIF co-founder, Rob da Bank. “We’re proud of how essential this event has become and all at AIF HQ are buzzing to be joining the dots between festival promotion and science this year, in what promises to be a packed and extremely fun couple of days in Cardiff.”

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 Ddirector, 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.

Core programme announced for Festival Congress

The Charlatans lead singer Tim Burgess and representatives from Secret Garden Party, Bluedot and The Eden Sessions will form the core programme at this year’s Festival Congress.

Organised by the Association of Independent Festivals, the Festival Congress will take place for the third year running at the Wales Mellennium Centre in Cardiff on 1-2 November. More than 400 delegates from the independent festival industry are expected to attend.

The programme, announced today (6 September), includes a ‘fireside chat’ with Burgess, as well as a panel discussion of the groundbreaking drugs testing service introduced at Secret Garden Party this year.

In-depth workshops have also been introduced this year, with topics ranging from virtual reality, YouTube, festival finance, legal advice for organisers and crime and security.

The Festival Congress Awards will take place on the first evening. Held at Cardiff venue DEPOT, the celebration will feature street food, Rob da Bank and Tayo 3000’s ‘Purple Rave’ Prince tribute and a DJ set from Burgess.

“Festival Congress is a fantastic forum to debate the issues and challenges facing the independent festival sector and to celebrate the continued successes of our members,” said Paul Reed, general manager of the AIF.

“There is a feeling within the AIF camp that this could be the best Congress yet. We are going from strength to strength with an amazing line-up of speakers this year, covering a huge range of topics. We’ve also got some great social events lined up so it won’t be all work.”

Tickets are on sale, and Access All Areas readers can enjoy an exclusive discount. Use the code AIFBUDDY16 when you purchase at ww2.theticketsellers.co.uk/tickets/festival-congress-2016/10041154.


AIF Festival Congress programme:

·      A ‘fireside chat’ with Tim Burgess (The Charlatans) that will cover Tim’s experiences at festivals, the Tim Peaks venue that he has taken to many independent festivals and his second book, ‘Tim Book Two: Vinyl Adventures from Istanbul to San Francisco’.

·      A headline panel discussion of the groundbreaking drugs testing service introduced at Secret Garden Party this summer. SGP founder Freddie Fellowes will be joined by Professor Fiona Measham (The Loop), Superintendent Justin Bibby (Northcumbria Police), Steve Rolles (Transform) and Jon Drape (Ground Control) for a discussion of the key issues, results and next steps.

·      Quickfire Talking Heads sessions, including Emma Brunjes (director, EBP), who will discuss crafting immersive theatre experiences such as Alice’s Adventures Underground and The Game’s Afoot.

·      A Festival Frontiers panel, featuring speakers including Ben Robinson (Kendal Calling/Bluedot/Off the Record) and John Empson (The Eden Sessions/Wilderness/Citadel), reflecting on the 2016 season and recent trends in an attempt to map out the future festival landscape.

·      In-depth workshops on topics including virtual reality, YouTube, festival finance, legal advice for festivals and crime and security, including weather planning and terrorism.

·      A breakout session catering specifically for multi-venue city-based festivals led by John Rostron (Sŵn Festival and AIF vice chair).

For more information and to buy tickets to the 2016 Festival Congress, go to festivalcongress.com.

AIF announces Festival Congress dates

The Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) has announced the dates and first speakers of its 2016 Festival Congress.

The annual gathering of festival delegates, now in its third year, will take place at the Wales Millennium Centre on 1-2 November.

The Festival Congress Awards will take place at The Depot Warehouse on the first night of the Congress. Awards categories include New Festival on the Block, Mind Blowing Spectacle, Festival Live Act of the Year and Smart Marketing.

Speakers at the two-day conference include John Giddings (Isle of Wight Festival/Solo Agency), Lee Denny (LeeFest), Simon Parkes (Brixton Academy), Sammy Andrews (Entertainment Intelligence) and Zac Fox (Kilimanjaro Live/NOWIE).

Quick-fire ‘talking heads’ sessions return to the Congress for the second year, and a series of ‘Lucha Libre’ breakout sessions will take place, discussing topics ranging from city festivals to festival finance. A Recovery Brunch will also be held on the morning following the Festival Congress Awards.

“Festival Congress is the one time in the year when independent festival professionals and the wider industry can get together and share their experiences, so we have started putting together a fantastic programme of events to maximise our time together,” said Paul Reed, general manager, AIF.

“From our legendary Congress party and awards to a brilliant line-up of speakers, it’s going to be a really special, jam-packed couple of days.”

Tickets are on sale now through headline sponsor The TicketSellers. PlayPass is an official partner, providing RFID for the Congress, and BIMM returns as the event’s educational partner.

More events and speakers are expected to be announced in the coming months.

AIF and MU unveil new agreement at Festival Congress

The Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) and the Musicians’ Union (MU) have announced an agreement that will formalise the existing relationship between emerging artists and independent festivals represented by AIF.

Both organisations define an emerging artist as one not represented by an agent or management, as well as those with representation but at the outset of their careers.

Details of the agreement were unveiled by the AIF’s Paul Reed and the MU’s Kelly Wood at the second annual AIF Festival Congress in Cardiff.

The agreement, which is an extension of the MU’s existing ‘Fair Play’ initiative, aims to provide practical guidance for musicians and festivals. It outlines key conditions for emerging artists and independent festival operators in areas such as remuneration, promotion, logistics and advance information required from artists and festivals alongside performance details.

The MU has 30,000 members – many of whom play live either as part of a portfolio career or as their mainstay. The AIF represents 55 festivals with a collective audience of over 600,000.

Paul Reed, General Manager of AIF said: “We are delighted to launch this project at the Festival Congress,” Reed said. “This agreement covers a lot of ground and, in many cases, the festivals will already be fulfilling such conditions for emerging artists.

“The idea is to provide practicable and realistic guidance and, crucially, a balanced agreement that will work for promoters and artists alike. UK festivals are one of the main incubators for emerging talent in the UK and this agreement acknowledges the importance of such artists to our member.”

Wood added: “Our ‘Fair Play’ initiative encourages good, clear relationships between artists and employers based around fair deals and it is exciting to be taking this into the festival sector.

“Festival slots are invaluable for emerging artists looking to reach new audiences and we therefore embraced the opportunity to work with the AIF in order to create a mutually beneficial agreement. With the input of our members we’ve been able to achieve an agreement whereby the terms are relevant, realistic and will encourage a good working relationship between artists and festival organisers.”

Details of the agreement can be found at www.aiforg.com/fairplay.

AIF reveals Festival Congress line-up

The Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) has announced its programme for The Festival Congress 2015.

This year’s event will include speakers from Glastonbury, Liverpool Sound City, Bestival, Kilimanjaro Live, Kendal Calling, Isle of Wight Festival and more.

The conference takes place at the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff and will feature more than fifty guest speakers on 5-6 November 2015.

The event will feature a series of presentations, roundtable discussions and quick-fire ‘Talking Heads’ sessions.

The ‘Taking Heads’ sessions are presented in association with congress sponsor and lead educational partner, BIMM, with a time limit of 15 minutes.

Topics will include:

  • How advertising has evolved’
  • The parallels between the craft beer and independent festival industries
  • Police negotiations
  • Where UK festivals need to improve, engaging Government in festival Development and ‘Hello Moon’: A remix of sounds from space, delivered by Professor Tim O’Brien (Jodrell Bank Observatory)
Confirmed guest speakers and presenters for the Congress include:
  • Robert Richards (dommercial director, Glastonbury)
  • Dave Pichilingi (Liverpool Sound City CEO)
  • Rob da Bank (Bestival)
  • Zac Fox (Kilimanjaro Live)
  • Rob Silver (Lovebox)
  • Andy Smith (Kendal Calling)
  • Sid Sharma (Shambala)

For the latest list of topics and speakers go to www.festivalcongress.com.

Paul Reed, general manager of AIF said: “AIF are delighted to reveal further plans for the Festival Congress in Cardiff this year. From headline discussions to forward thinking ‘Talking Heads’ sessions, with festivals of all shapes and sizes represented in the line-up alongside some interesting voices from outside of the industry. “

AIF reveals Festival Congress 2015 plans

The Association of Independent Festivals (the AIF) has unveiled plans for The Festival Congress 2015.

The Festival Congress, will be returning to Cardiff on the 5-6 November 2015.

Delivering the keynote speech at this year’s event will be BBC Radio DJ and Sŵn Festival co-founder, Huw Stephens.

Festival Congress’ launch last year saw the largest gathering of independent festivals ever, as over 400 delegates and speakers enjoyed a two-day industry conference and celebration in the capital of Wales.

This year’s Festival Congress, which takes place at the Wales Millennium Centre, will feature approximately fifty industry guest speakers over the two days.

The event will feature a series of quick fire talks, presentations and roundtable discussions, with a progressive agenda and format. Speakers include inspiring figures from the independent festival industry – from events including Isle of Wight Festival, Bestival, Kendal Calling.

The Festival Congress 2015 will also see the launch of a festival-themed evening celebration on 5 November at Cardiff University’s Great Hall.

This will be an AIF takeover of the venue, featuring festival themed décor, a street food festival banquet for delegates, AIF DJs including Rob da Bank and The Festival Congress Awards, which recognises and rewards the hard work that goes on across the industry.

The keynote speech from Huw Stephens takes place on the first day of The Festival Congress – Thursday 5 November.

Stephens joined BBC Radio aged just 17, making him the youngest ever Radio 1 DJ. He has presented BBC TV and radio coverage from numerous UK and international festivals, including Glastonbury, Sonar and South-by-South West.

Passionate about championing new music, he co-founded Cardiff’s multi-venue NME award-winning Sŵn Festival in 2007 with promoter and current AIF vice chair, John Rostron.

Huw has curated stages and compered at many UK festivals including Latitude, Reading, Green Man, Festival no.6, Bestival and Glastonbury. He has written for publications such as NME, The Guardian, Clash and The Western Mail.

Stephens said: “Festivals are a big part of my life and I’ve been going to them for close to 20 years. I love the work the AIF does, so to deliver the keynote speech this year in Cardiff is a real honour. I look forward to the Congress and meeting those who put on these amazing events that make the live music scene so strong. See you in November.”

AIF founder Rob da Bank said: “So we’re in Wales again for the Congress and we need someone who’s passionate about festivals, music and all things Welsh…Hold on, where’s Huw Stephens?! So, yes, I’m so proud to announce Huw as our keynote speaker for 2015. He’s a fantastic broadcaster, lover of music and a good mate who goes to more festivals than I do, so roll on November for what will surely be a great Festival Congress”.

General manager of AIF Paul Reed said: “We’re delighted to have Huw on board as the keynote speaker for what promises to be an incredible second year for the Congress in Cardiff. We’re looking forward to bringing the festival community back to Wales for two days of exciting content and, of course, an almighty celebration. The Congress will reflect the creativity of this incredible industry whilst addressing the nuts and bolts issues that matter to festival organisers, their teams and those interested in the industry.”

The Festival Congress will also showcase emerging artists from the BBC Wales and Arts Council Wales Horizons programme – a scheme, which supports and develops new and independent music artists from Wales.

In addition to this, the event will feature a ‘Spotlight on Wales’ round table discussion, which will showcase the range of festivals and opportunities within the industry in Wales.

The Festival Congress comes just before the full return of Sŵn Festival as a weekend event. This year Sŵn takes place over the weekend of the 7-8 November.

New ticketing service Una Tickets will be a headline sponsor and exclusive ticketing partner for The Festival Congress and will be using the event as a launch pad for the service, which provides ticketing, access control, cashless payments and real-time onsite analytics, through an RFID access card and mobile app pass.

Tickets are on-sale to AIF members from the 15 July and will then go on general sale to the wider music and festival industry from the 22 July, with early bird tickets available up to the end of August, priced £100.