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General Secretary Writes | Association of Festival Organisers

Steve Heap, General Secretary of AFO and Chair of EIF shares his thoughts and experiences.

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General Secretary Writes – December, 2023 - Feb 2024

General Secretary Writes – December, 2023 - Feb 2024

15th February 2024

It seems such a long time since just before Christmas but that is when I last wrote in General Secretary Writes. And there has been quite a lot going on since. A few highlights are of course the AFO Conference which was on 10 February. A great event, lots of late bookings just like the festival scene, which had me a little bit worried but on the day a great turn-out, every chair was taken. Specia...

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General Secretary Writes – October/November 2023

General Secretary Writes – October/November 2023

30th November 2023

Hello Members and Friends My last GSW ended on 29 September and now picks up at the start of October. 3 October I would normally have been attending the Outdoor UK Events sub-group. However, this was cancelled. There is some doubt as to the purpose of this group and it under review with Chair Nick Morgan (The Fair). 4 October Julie's Bicycle and A Greener Future roundtable discussions onsc...

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General Secretary Writes – September 2023

General Secretary Writes – September 2023

26th September 2023

Hello Members and Friends. Since I last wrote to you all back in August, we had just a few days of summer sun and I am not quite sure what happened to the rest of summer, but the tail end of August wasn’t too bad. Maybe we are due for an Indian Summer in mid-October. It could happen. Meanwhile, we have had a busy few weeks in the office with BBC Food Programme from Radio4 contacting us to d...

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General Secretary Writes - August 2023

General Secretary Writes - August 2023

7th August 2023

Since I last put together a report for you around the beginning of May the festival season has got well underway. So here is a kind of mid-season catch-up. The early season festivals seemed to go off okay. It has not been the easiest of years, as I have reported on many occasions, with infrastructure costs going through the roof. Some artists have very kindly held on to their steady price and m...

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General Secretary Writes - June 2023

General Secretary Writes - June 2023

27th June 2023

My last GSW was written on 1 May and already, here we are well into the festival season. I hope plans for yours are going well and if it has already happened I hope you got by and had a good year. There are so many challenges out there at the moment for festivals, but as I have said on many occasions the human race has been celebrating in the shape of festivals for thousands of years and we are n...

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General Secretary Writes  - May  2023

General Secretary Writes - May 2023

2nd May 2023

Where did the previous few months go?  And I do hope you have put away your Christmas decorations by now.  As you read this Padstow will be full of people and May Day celebrations will be taking place all over the world.  In some areas called Labour Day.  Bank Holidays invariably fall on Mondays and of course this one does too.  It marks the start of the main festival se...

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General Secretary Writes - March 2023

General Secretary Writes - March 2023

14th March 2023

Hello AFO Members and Colleagues  Since my last General Secretary Writes back in January there has been quite a lot going on.  Most of which has been published in AFO News.  For example, Craig Mathie’s new company, great news from the Big Burns Supper, Ecolibrium’s big moves for 2023 and the hot question around the office, insurance on industrial disputes that might ov...

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General Secretary Writes – January 2023

General Secretary Writes – January 2023

20th January 2023

Hello AFO members and colleagues and if it is not too late, may I wish you a Happy New Year with this, the first GSW of 2023. This is the year that the festival scene will bounce back from the pandemic. We have survived many ups and downs over the years but perhaps the Covid pandemic was one of the toughest. 2022 was the beginning of the recovery, this year I wholeheartedly hope that you get your...

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General Secretary Writes – December 2022

General Secretary Writes – December 2022

16th December 2022

Hello AFO members and colleagues. Since my last GSW at the end of September there has been quite a lot going on, not least of which a chess match in politics with Prime Ministers, Chancellors, Home Secretaries, and more shuffling of Cabinets than a poker player. This in turn has led to disorientation within civil service and an almost grinding to a halt of political affairs that affect the festiv...

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General Secretary Writes - October 2022

General Secretary Writes - October 2022

10th November 2022

General Secretary Writes – October 2022 You will remember that I last wrote my GSW in September.  We were recognising the death of Queen Elizabeth 1, looking back on a festival year, and encouraging members to enter themselves for the whole wide range of awards that were on offer during the autumn months. We pointed you towards a review of a Code of Conduct and we looked forward to ...

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General Secretary Writes - September 2022

General Secretary Writes - September 2022

18th September 2022

Hello Members and Colleagues It was with great sadness that the team at AFO office recognised the death of Queen Elizabeth II, the longest serving Queen in history.  Throughout the following 11 days up to her funeral on 19 September there have been event cancellations, other events going ahead with respectful notices and a sometimes-overwhelming amount of coverage on national television.&nbs...

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General Secretary Writes  - June July 2022

General Secretary Writes - June July 2022

8th July 2022

General Secretary Writes  - June/July 2022 Hello Members and Colleagues  My last General Secretary Writes was covering the backend of April and May just as the festival season was starting.  I can now say we are well into the season with several already taken place.  Festival Supply Chain - back at the end of May an article appeared in Standout magazine talking about organis...

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General Secretary Writes – May 2022

General Secretary Writes – May 2022

23rd May 2022

Hello Members and Colleagues My last General Secretary Writes was back at the end of April when the bulk of the festival scene was approaching the start line.  I can safely say the starting gun has fired. Sadly, there have been one or two casualties left over from Covid and the rising costs, but there is plenty of enthusiasm and creativity out there that could make 2022 not just a get throu...

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AFO General Secretary Writes – April 2022

AFO General Secretary Writes – April 2022

28th April 2022

Hello members and all My last General Secretary Writes took us up to about 18 March.  I will pick up later with what has been going on since then. For now, here are a few news items. Red Diesel.  We have talked about this quite a lot in recent months, but just as a reminder as we get started on the 2022 season, red diesel is no longer allowed in your generators, for those of you who u...

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AFO General Secretary Writes – Monday 21 March 2022

AFO General Secretary Writes – Monday 21 March 2022

21st March 2022

AFO General Secretary Writes – Monday 21 March 2022                                     In my last GSW on 14 February I was flagging up the fact that Conference having been online was now available on the website...

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AFO General Secretary Writes – Monday 14 February 2022

AFO General Secretary Writes – Monday 14 February 2022

14th February 2022

It is over a month since my last General Secretary Writes.  There has been turmoil in No.10.  Some collective congratulations for a Conference and, sadly, the loss of some lovely people. First a bit of general news.  Market Times is the trade magazine for the National Market Traders Federation (NMTF).  They are always interested to hear how market trading at your festivals an...

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AFO General Secretary Writes Friday 7 January 2022

AFO General Secretary Writes Friday 7 January 2022

7th January 2022

Firstly, may I wish you a very Happy New Year and I hope that you had a good Christmas break. You will remember that I wrote my last GSW on 14 December so in the run up to Christmas there were one or two things going on and then a long silence, so perhaps this edition will be a bit shorter than usual.   Monday 13 December I attended Festival and Outdoor Events DCMS Working Group where we l...

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AFO General Secretary Writes.  Friday 10 December

AFO General Secretary Writes. Friday 10 December

14th December 2021

Since I last wrote (22 November) we have had howling gales, torrential rain, and even more snow here at AFO Towers. Many of the usual subject have been popping up yet again with a few new ones as follows: 24 November - I was pleased to be invited to attend AFO member Ju Gosling’s Together, which was similar to a­­ conference online with particular reference to accessibility.&nb...

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General Secretary Writes - November 2021

General Secretary Writes - November 2021

23rd November 2021

Will we ever be the same again?  Covid, BREXIT, Insurance, it seems that the same subjects keep popping up over and over again.  However there has been some movement since I last wrote at the end of October, and I will come to my diary in a moment. Event Wi-Fi Wi-Fi and communications are something we have to think about when we are busily setting up our sites.  Only a few ye...

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General Secretary Writes -  October 2021 Part 2

General Secretary Writes - October 2021 Part 2

22nd October 2021

General Secretary Writes – October 2021 Part 2 Since I last wrote with my diary entries up to 8 October there has been quite a lot going on, but we should open by sadly noting the passing of Paddy Maloney, the Chieftains founder member.  Paddy Maloney was piper, whistle player, manager of band.  Born in 1938 he grew up in Donnycarney in the northern part of county Dublin.  He...

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