"Festivals and events have come a very long way" said the title of this year’s sell-out Association of Festival Organisers (AFO) Conference at Ettington Chase near Stratford upon Avon. Taking place from 11 - 13 November, the 30th annual gathering attracted over 200 delegates with 21 trade stands including 5 artists’ agents.
Delegates were treated to 23 panels and presentations including one-to-ones, round table discussions and main stage presentations. Rob Kirkham, Head of Business Development at PRS for Music gave delegates an update on the latest LP tariff negotiations, Mo Jones of TheTicketSellers working with Jon Walsh of Shambala Festival engaged a crowded room with the Eventree, festival management system and the highlight of the weekend was a risk assessment and health and safety presentation from Mike Richmond of the Events Safety Shop bringing delegates up-to-date with the latest on health and safety and CDM.
Women in Events featured in a double header with The Network of Women in Events (NOWIE) discussing women in prominent roles of festival and event management and The White Ribbon Campaign focusing on women’s safety at festivals.
Balancing the programme guidance came from David Agnew from The Met, Eddie Barcan from Glastonbury Festival and Chris Wade from Strada Music whilst Paul Hawkins from Attitude is Everything gave an excellent presentation on how we can attract more people to our events by being more accessible for disabled people.
There were sessions on: Happy children equals happy adults, Revenue from trading, Artists fees, Ticket sales conversion rates and open discussions on Arts Council funding, Artists riders and The use of photographs taken at your event. Steve Heap, General Secretary of AFO, presented his Beginners guide to festival management and the weekend highlight was The Colin Irwin Interview - Volume 2 with Andy Kershaw where the Radio 1 DJ and author told stories of his life in music (available for festivals near you).
Showcase New Stars
12 acts were presented to a packed house in showcases across Friday and Saturday and went away with several festival bookings.
Main sponsors and providers of light, sound and technical equipment were the newly reformed SLX of Bristol with media support from Stand Out Magazine, Access All Areas and ticket support from ID&C and Eventbrite.
In closing the weekend, Steve Heap, General Secretary of AFO reminded delegates to budget an attendance at AFO Conference 2017 (10-12 November 2017) as a must attend for anyone involved in the festival and events industry. One delegate quoted “The health and safety presentation alone was well worth the delegate fee”.
The Association of Festival Organisers has over 250 members including 150 festivals and events, and works with and on behalf of its members throughout the UK. For more information on AFO Conference 2017 and AFO membership visit www.festivalorganisers.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org