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AIF launches APPG for independent festivals

The All-Party Parliamentary Group will first tackle environmental impacts and solutions, women’s safety, crime and drug use and touring visas

By Lisa Henderson on 18 Sep 2023

John Rostron, AIF

John Rostron, AIF

The UK’s Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) has set up an All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for independent festivals.

The APPG says it will look at the unique value independent festivals bring, as well as the pressures that they face. It will include conversations with the suppliers who work with the festival sector, plus the landowners who support festivals across the UK.

During its first year, the APPG will reflect on the challenges faced by the sector in 2023, and look into prevalent topics including environmental impacts and solutions, women’s safety, crime and drug use, and touring visas for musicians.

“It’s been a very busy summer this year and I’ve met with a number of MPs as I’ve visited festivals across the UK,” says John Rostron, CEO, AIF.

“Whether they are attending and supporting festivals in their constituency, speaking at events, or enjoying festivals for fun, we’ve had some great conversations about the importance and vibrancy of the independent festival sector, as well as the challenges that festivals are currently facing. The Festivals APPG will enable us to carry these conversations into Westminster and enable dialogue between MPs and festivals all year round.”

“The APPG will enable us to carry conversations into Westminster and enable dialogue between MPs and festivals”

The initial APPG members include chair Giles Watling MP (Conservative) and vice chairs Kevin Brennan MP (Labour), Alex Davies Jones MP (Labour), Pete Wishart MP (SNP), Rt Hon Damian Green MP (Conservative), Rt Hon Karen Bradley MP (Conservative), and Mark Fletcher MP (Conservative).

Watling adds: “I am delighted and honoured to be elected as chairman of the APPG for Festivals. Globally, Britain leads the way in celebrating humanity through festivals, as people come together to enjoy their passions. This APPG will be open to any and all forms of festival, from rock and pop to classical to literary. There are wellness festivals, food festivals, and so many more – it will be a privilege to represent all of them and highlight their importance to Britain’s cultural offer.”

Secretariat services will be provided by political consultancy Pepper Shackleton Wellard (PSW), which will organise the APPG events, and co-ordinate with supporters and officers.

AIF is also in conversation with the British Arts Festivals Association (BAFA), the leading network and development agency for UK arts festivals and AFO (Association of Festival Organisers) to support the APPG.


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