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General Secretary Writes - Banging the AFO drum, with UK Live Music Group (the good guys), MU, DCMS, EIF, AIF and countless others

Tell me, why did I get up at 5:30am to drive to the station for an early train that would get me to a meeting in London for 11am?  I usually did 3 meetings and caught a train back to be home in time for the 10 o’clock news (PM).

Then there was a virus pandemic, all meetings cancelled.  Enter stage left ZOOM!  A meeting before lunch and a dog walk as well.  With a good chairperson and some committee discipline, each one no more than 75 mins including niceties.  “How are you, ok, how are you – ok let’s get on with it.  Mics on silent unless you’re speaking and if you want to say something wave yer hand.  To agree it’s thumbs up”.

So, in all these weeks I’ve been banging the AFO drum, with UK Live Music Group (the good guys), MU, DCMS, EIF, AIF and countless others.  The whole thing has been useful and informative, revealing and occasionally a bit grumpy.  There is, in the main, a common enemy – COVID-19 (sometimes HM Gov) but with a united industry we will win.

We are now several weeks into the ever-present VIRUS.  You will have heard the phrases “unprecedented”, “never in our lifetime”, “in these difficult circumstances” so I’m not going to use them again.  Clearly, we are all affected either by self-isolating, knowing someone who has picked up the virus or even worse.

As organisers of festivals and events, suppliers or artists, your membership of AFO is important to us and I believe important to you.  Important, because we have become an information line from UK Music Live Group, EIF etc through to you, our members.  I would encourage you to stay with us even if your festival is one of the casualties this year, so that we can keep you informed of developments as the VIRUS YEAR progresses.

MOST OF YOU have already made the decision NOT to run your event on its usual dates, and a few are hanging in there in a hope that the late season may be possible.

Whenever you stage it or not, your customers have the same rights of refund in full as you will not be delivering the product they have paid you for.  Use the word 'postpone', not 'cancel', because by postponing you bring them closer to your family and I believe they are more likely to allow you to keep their money to carry over to your new dates, whether that be later this year or same time as usual next year.

The clue here is keep your customers well informed and bring them into your decision-making process.  Those of you that have made those decisions about this year are already listed on a chart which you will find on the COVID-19 page on the AFO website.  Please do let us know if you are not listed or want to change the entry.

We will help you market your new dates through the AFO website, and we will continue to do all we can to help you get through this year and survive to deliver your amazing events for many years to come.

Thinking ahead to better times (and they will come)

AFO Conference is 19 - 21 February 2021 - DDC, 60 Hampton Street, Hockley, Birmingham, B19 3LU (subject to virus rules and regulations at the time).

I do hope you will be joining us for the AFO Conference and Training day.  There will be an awful lot to talk about this year!

We are offering a 20% Delegate discount for all those affected by the virus.  Get in touch with the office.

In a new venue in Hockley, Birmingham we will create a festival atmosphere with speakers, panellists, trainers and people who have vast experience in our festival community.

Add to that street food, trade exhibition space, a real ale licensed bar, tea, coffee, snacks, great music and street theatre and we will transport you to summer days in November!!

YOU MUST BOOK YOUR ACCOMMODATION NOW!  Birmingham Jewellery Quarter is a very busy arts and community area and the nearby hotels will get booked up very quickly.  Do NOT leave it any longer.  BOOK YOURS NOW.

Finally, please keep in touch with your news, your dates and yes, your questions.  See also AFO NEWS and the COVID-19 pages for the most up to date information.

As always if we don’t know the answer, we know someone who does.  I look forward to hearing your news by whatever method you can communicate.

I suppose we have spent over 2000 years wrecking the environment.  Will nature forgive us and give us a chance to correct our mistakes?  Hopefully, the vaccine will be with us soon and give us all a fighting chance to get on with planning for 2021.  Maybe we will all have learned something new that will help us repair our world.

Look after yourselves and your loved ones, help your neighbours if you can, keep our communities alive by talking to each other and we best do it at least 2 metres apart.

And in these “never in our lifetime, unprecedented difficult circumstances”…STAY SAFE.

See you at AFO Conference in February 2021.

Steve Heap: 18th May 2020 07:56:00

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