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Working for and with festivals and events, supporting live arts


The Association of Festival Organisers was established in 1987 with funding support from Arts Council England.

It brought together a group of festival organisers from the folk world and soon expanded to incorporate styles in early music, bluegrass, jazz, Cajun, step dance, world music, the folk arts, singer songwriter, tributes, spoken word, acoustic music and many other events. The list now forms the core of what is currently a membership of over 150 festivals, events and activists.

The AFO offers a channel of communication for the people involved in events and festivals of all sizes.  It assists with the ups and downs of festival management, provides information, data, links and contacts, help and advice in the challenge to present the arts in a professional, popular and safe production to a wider audience.

The AFO has links with similar organisations and festivals overseas and also works closely with a variety of UK based arts organisations, unions and associations. In addition, the AFO is regarded as a leading partner in the events industry.  The AFO is represented at many local and national Government levels, including the APPG’s for music, festivals and Events in Westminster.  AFO also works with the Events Industry Forum, in rewriting the Purple Guide.  This is ongoing work and new chapters and reviews are being written.

1. Aims and Objectives

1(a) Aims

The Association of Festival Organisers exists and works:

  1. In order to support and enhance the efforts of festival organisers, and others associated, in the UK.
  2. To raise awareness of the existence and activities of these festivals, and of the Association itself.
  3. To help in the initiation of festivals and events in parts of England where none, or few, currently exist.

1(b) Objectives

In order to achieve these aims, the Association will:

  1. Seek funding from various sources, to a sufficient level, to pursue its aims and objectives successfully.
  2. Arrange meetings, and communicate with, its Advisory Group when required.
  3. Publish ENewsletters on its website and by email for members and other interested parties.
  4. Maintain an AFO website (
  5. Organise at least one major national event each year, usually a conference, training or development activity.
  6. Arrange such other activities to promote its aims as the Advisory Group shall see fit.

2. Structure and Membership

  1. The Association consists of constituted festival and event organisations, trade suppliers and established individuals working in the area of festivals and events in the UK.
  2. The Association has Associate Membership available for organisations, companies and individuals who have connections with the festival and event industries.
  3. The Association will employ a General Secretary and an administrator who will carry out all reasonable and necessary works as the Advisory Group shall see fit.
  4. The General Secretary and Administrator will invite members to join the Advisory Group from time to time as their skill matches the job at hand.
  5. The Association can appoint one Honorary officer, namely Chair of Advisory Group.
  6. The Association is proud to have Martin Carthy Hon DMus MBE as Patron and Howard Goodall CBE as Hon. President.

3. Operations

3(a) Meetings

  1. Meetings of the Advisory Group will be held each financial year, as and when required.
  2. Each Advisory Group member may send one official representative to each meeting.
  3. The General Secretary &/or Administrator &/or Chair may invite guests to meetings (a) to speak, or to participate in discussion, about specific issues or topics of interest; (b) for the promotion of the work of the Association.

3(b) Chair

One of the Association’s members can be elected Chair of the Advisory Group.

  1. The Chair’s functions include the following:
    1. the overseeing of management of the operations of the Association.
    2. to preside over meetings.
    3. to supervise and manage the Administrator and General Secretary concerning the organisation of meetings and the running of the Association’s affairs.
    4. to represent the Association at all levels, as required, and at events as appropriate.
  2. The Chair will be elected at the last meeting of a financial year, will take office on 1st January following that meeting, and will hold office for two years.
  3. The Chair’s deputy, to preside over meetings in his/her absence, will be the General Secretary.

3(c) Treasurer

The job of Treasurer will be held by the General Secretary under the scrutiny of the Chair.

3(d) Administrator

  • The Association will pay for the services of an Administrator, whose principal responsibilities are:
    1. to organise and manage the business and activities of The Association.
    2. to attend meetings and organise all related paperwork.
    3. to maintain accurate and up-to-date financial records of the Association’s activities, and to liaise and report to the General Secretary.
    4. to arrange the writing and publication, on the website, of the ENewsletter.
    5. to arrange other publicity and communications, including social media, and occasionally as The    Association sees fit.
    6. to maintain the AFO website.
    7. to help expand the membership.
    8. to work with and for the General Secretary, to whom he/she is responsible.
    9. The Administrator may participate in debate at meetings but will not have a vote.

3(e) Other Paid Work

  1. The Association can decide to pay for services of other individuals to do specific work, for example conference training, including Association members.

4. Communication, Co-operation and Collaboration

  1. The Association will publish a ENewsletter on the Association’ website and distribute via email.
  2. The Association will maintain a website and update it regularly.
  3. The Members of the Association will regard themselves as equal partners in achieving their common aims, while recognising each other’s diversity of approach.
  4. The Association may from time to time call upon the services of other individuals and organisations, as it deems appropriate.
  5. The Association seeks to maintain links with kindred and/or complementary organisations both nationally, within the United Kingdom and internationally.
  6. The Association will provide a proactive voice for the furtherance and development of the festival industry through festivals and events.
  7. The Association will give support to initiatives that it deems to be of national importance or significance, whether or not they are initiated by Members of the Association.
  8. The Association collectively and its Members individually agree to work in a spirit of co-operation and collaboration, both among Members and with others working in the wider area of festivals and events.

5. Finance

  1. The Association will seek funding from a variety of sources.
  2. Additional funding opportunities may be researched as required.
  3. The Association will raise funds from membership fees, conference and training events.

5(a) Bank Account

  1. The Association will operate a bank account.
  2. There will be three authorised signatories to the bank account, as follows (a) the Administrator; (b) the General Secretary; and at least one other.
  3. Bank withdrawals will be authorised as follows: (a) the General Secretary’s signature on any legitimate amounts; (b) any other two signatures on amounts above £1000.00, where the General Secretary is not available.

5(b) Accounts

  1. The Administrator and General Secretary will keep up-to-date accounts, will give a financial report to each Meeting, and will liaise with the Chair on financial matters when required.
  2. The Administrator and General Secretary will prepare and present an annual statement of accounts to the Association.
  3. Budgets will be set by the Association in consultation with the General Secretary.
  4. The accounts of the Association will be annually checked and approved by a qualified person, who shall not be a Member.

5(c) Expenses

  1. Advisory Group Members will be entitled to reimbursement of expenses legitimately incurred in carrying out the work and operation of the Association when funds are available When funds are not available the member will be informed before their voluntary work commences.  The principles to be applied are that:
    1. No Advisory Group Member should be forcibly out of pocket or make a profit as a result of carrying out the aims and objectives of the Association and should be given the choice.
    2. Advisory Group Members should recognise the non-commercial status of the Association, and keep expenses to a reasonable minimum.
  2. The Association’s Policy is that the following expenses can be reimbursed:
    1. For Association meetings and other authorised Association activities, such as attendance at Exhibitions, conferences and the like, as approved by the Association:
    2. Travel Second-class or the cheapest rail fare, plus taxi/public transport between destination station and place of meeting/activity; unavoidable car-parking charges.  Where use of a car is the only reasonable means of transport, a mileage allowance of £0.50 per mile (current at 2023).
    3. Subsistence An allowance for meals, not exceeding £20 per person per day, payable on presentation of receipts.
    4. Childcare: An upper limit of £50 on presentation of receipts.
    5. Other Expenses: Where other expenses (such as hotel or other costs are incurred in legitimate pursuit of the Association’s Aims and Objectives, reimbursement will be made, subject to advance approval of the General Secretary.  Where the expenses are incurred by the Chair or General Secretary, the other should give prior approval in principle, unless the expense has been authorised by a Meeting.

6. Winding Up


  1. In the event of the Association being wound up, its financial assets will be used for the furtherance of participation in festivals and events activity by young people. The exact destination and allocation of such funds will be agreed by Advisory Group Members and the Chair, Administrator and General Secretary of the Association at the time of its winding up.
  2. All paperwork or records will be handed for safekeeping to an appropriate national archive and held for research purposes. The receiving archive will be agreed by Advisory Group Members of the Association at the time of its winding up.
  3. Any other assets will either be realised to raise funds for the furtherance of participation in the festival and events industry, or will be handed for safekeeping to an appropriate national archive and held for research purposes. This will be agreed by Advisory Group Members of the Association at the time of its winding up.

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