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General Secretary Writes - 5 July onwards


This week I started by visiting Timber Festival in the National Forest, East Midlands.

An absolutely unique event only reminiscent of the sadly lost Larmer Tree (where are they now ?).

Well done Wild Rumpus (AFO members) on overcoming enormous hurdles to get the event on in a Covid safe way.  Test and trace were in place and as everyone approached wristband exchange you were politely asked to prove you had a negative test by showing your recent result on an NHS app.  Simples!

July 5, 6, 7 had a variety of small meetings on screen and a good bit of time for office admin catch up.

7 July should have been a BERG meeting (Business Events Recovery Group) but it was postponed to next week.  This gathering is mostly business type events, but we fit in as businesses that run events.
We gather lots of information from other members of the group and give them the latest on outdoor events and Festivals.  More next week.

8 July I attended our biweekly LIVE exec meeting.  Here we discussed the new freedom date 19 July , although in typical news fashion they have already let most of the info go well before the PM gets to the podium on 12 to tell us what will be happening on 19 (ok so far ?).

We also discussed T+T and how? if it were to be a condition of opening, we would handle it.

Of course, the general feeling was IF then we will but NOT is preferred.  That led onto Isolation and the way the current system can wipe out the whole backstage crew if one were to test positive.
This in turn will come to an end soon (18 August was mentioned ).  Reports are that many are simply turning off the app that would tell them whilst sending home the one positive.  We do not condone this action of course but it is understandable.

The LIVE Green charter is nearing the end of consultation, if you want to see the draft and comment let me know.  It will be signed off for action in 2 weeks.  More on that when it’s published.

Insurance is always on this agenda but no new news as yet, though the pot is still on the cooker!

Refunds of tickets purchased was discussed and will be again next meeting.  There are now some difficult decisions being made by festival organisers and we expect to get more queries re this soon.

Other issues at LIVE exec were Funding, Incorporation and PRS.

I also attended the DCMS Festivals Working Group where the overriding topic was “thanks for the ERP report but where was the guidance?”

Tom Dammers, now back in the DCMS driving seat, told us that DCMS were writing NEW guidance for release with Step 4.  We MAY get to see a draft in advance.  This new work will override guidance on Performing Arts, Outdoor Events, Festivals and Local Authorities.

This is welcome news as it will bring together all the various papers written over the last 12 months and hopefully give us a good steer on how to and where in the rest of 2021 and on into winter events and next year (we hope they will have taken on board a great deal of what we have been telling them).

9 July (today) I attended a meeting of NPCC (the Police Liaison group v v festivals and events).  Report next week.

Next week, apart from my regular meetings, I will be in DERBY to put the (hopefully) finishing touches to a venue plan for AFO Conference 5/6 November.

Now we can, I am about to continue my visits to AFO festival member events.  Next on my list is Hatfield House for Battle Proms and Folk By The Oak.

I hope this info is all useful and if you need more detail you will find some in AFO news on the website, OR drop me a line and I will be pleased to fill you in.

Stay safe, it’s not over just yet.

Association of Festival Organisers (AFO): 9th Jul 2021 16:46:00

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