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AIF announces full Festival Congress 2019 programme

Speakers including photographer Jill Furmanovsky, Arcadia's Bert Cole and Sensoria Festival's Jo Wingate will appear at the sixth Festival Congress in November

By Jon Chapple on 02 Sep 2019

AIF CEO Paul Reed

AIF CEO Paul Reed

The UK’s Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) has announced further details of the 2019 edition of its flagship Festival Congress event in Sheffield on 6–7 November, featuring a two-day conference and the Independent Festival Awards.

The sixth annual Festival Congress, which follows five consecutive sold-out events, is expected to attract over 350 delegates. The conference will take place at Abbeydale Picturehouse, a grade II-listed 1920s cinema.

The Independent Festival Awards, meanwhile, will again take place at warehouse venue 92 Burton Road and feature decor and theatrical elements inspired by this year’s theme, ‘utopia and dystopia’.

Confirmed Festival Congress 2019 speakers include legendary rock photographer Jill Furmanovsky, in conversation with ILMC MD Greg Parmley. Furmanovsky has photographed the likes of Oasis, Pink Floyd, Bob Dylan and Blondie across a 40-year career, in addition to extensively covering Glastonbury festival, and will be talking through some of her defining images.

Also confirmed is Rob da Bank’s A–Z of Festivals podcast, featuring AIF member Deershed, which will be recorded live.

In addition, Bert Cole of performance art collective Arcadia Spectacular will deliver a closing keynote on Arcadia’s journey, from its Spider structure to the Pangea installation at Glastonbury this year, as well as its Arcadia Reach project.

Elsewhere, Rebecca Wrigley, chief executive of Rewilding Britain, will deliver a quick-fire talk about her organisation’s mission and the importance of rewilding, and Jo Wingate, founder of Sensoria Festival, will talk about their immersive screening of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis with a live score from Factory Floor on the site of a former steel mill.

Chris Bailey (Boy in the Corner) will speak on the power of radio and podcasting for festivals, and Tim Leigh of Stage One, which has delivered productions for the Special Olympics opening ceremony in Abu Dhabi and Mercury Music Prize, will talk about creating spectaculars and the ‘curse’ of innovation.

“Festival Congress is back with our most ambitious and varied programme to date”

They join previous announced quickfire talks from Bing Jones (Extinction Rebellion), Dr Jennifer Otter Bickerdike (author and cultural historian), Chris Sheldrick (What3Words) and Jack Wiliamson (Music & You).

Panel and workshop sessions at Festival Congress this year include a headline debate around what ‘independence’ means in the current festival climate, a vision for a sustainable industry, festival funding, apps and the ethics of data collection, digital marketing impact, licensing, cashless technology, managing volunteers and more.

Festival Congress is also set to be the first travel carbon-neutral events industry conference, working with Energy Revolution to balance the carbon emissions from travel for all speakers and staff with investment in projects that create clean renewable energy. Delegates will also be offered the option to balance their travel emissions with a donation at point of ticket sale, with 100% of all donations going directly to renewable energy projects.

AIF CEO Paul Reed says: “Following an exciting inaugural year in Sheffield, Festival Congress has firmly settled into its new home and is back with our most ambitious and varied programme to date. We’ll be debating the key issues currently facing the independent festival sector and, as ever, looking outside of the industry for inspiration. With Abbeydale Picturehouse, we’ve found a conference venue that is aligned with the content and Independent Festival Awards in terms of creativity and atmosphere.

“In addition, as part of our commitment to environmental change, and following our Drastic On Plastic and Take Your Tent Home campaigns, I’m delighted that AIF is working closely with Energy Revolution to walk the walk and be the first transport carbon-neutral event industry conference.”

For tickets (priced at £100 for AIF members, £135 to Friends of AIF, £185 to non-member organisations and £235 to non-member suppliers), the full agenda and more information, visit www.festivalcongress.com.


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