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NEC Birmingham signs up to festival trade bodies

The campus has joined the AIF and AFO after adapting its post-pandemic commercial approach to broaden its festival proposition

By James Hanley on 05 Jan 2023

The NEC Birmingham has joined the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) and the Association of Festival Organisers (AFO) as it seeks to explore new opportunities within its events diversification strategy.

The NEC is the UK’s largest exhibition venue, with 18 interconnecting halls in addition to more than 387 acres of hard-standing ground and 59 acres of woodland.

Post-pandemic, the campus has adapted its commercial approach to broaden its festival proposition, staging the 45,000-cap Wireless Festival outdoors with Festival Republic in July last year. It also hosted Slam Dunk Festival in 2014.

“We work closely with many trade bodies across the live music and events industry, contributing to policies, key initiatives and lobbying activity. It is important that we listen to the wants and needs of more event genres as we diversify our offer” says Richard Mann, new business director for the NEC, which also owns ticketing agency The Ticket Factory.

“We are in discussions with festival organisers about events for this year and beyond”

“We’re a large site with big ambitions to bring a greater mix of events to the Midlands. We are in discussions with festival organisers about events for this year and beyond. Our audience database for the NEC and our arenas is comprehensive. The challenge for us is bringing new events to the region which can revitalise the local festival and events landscape.”

AIF CEO John Rostron says the move represents a big addition to the AIF membership.

“Not only does it demonstrate creative thinking from NEC Group, it also points to the value of AIF as a resource to businesses connected to the festival industry, alongside the promoters themselves,” he says. “We look forward to working closely with the NEC, carving new opportunities for both the venue and our festival members, and promoting the interests of the sector more broadly.”

Steve Heap, general secretary of the AFO, adds: “We are delighted that the NEC has joined us. AFO’s credibility has built gradually since we formed in 1987, and we now have more than 150 grassroots festivals, many of whom move sites from year-to-year, that would welcome engagement with the venue. We look forward to working more closely with the NEC as the year progresses and beyond.”


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