Increase in spiking reported at Danish festival
Danish heavy metal festival Copenhell says it is “deeply saddened” by a worrying increase in drug spiking at this year’s event.
VIP Booking reports that organisers were made aware of up to 10 people who unknowingly had substances slipped into their drinks in the festival’s large party tent ‘Biergarten’, adding the trend has also been detected across the wider nightlife scene.
Festival booker and director Jeppe Nissen tells Kulturmonitor the event will “take measures to combat” the development moving forward.
“We are deeply saddened by this and urge everyone to contact us directly if they have had any experiences with drugging or possess any information that can help identify the perpetrators,” says Nissen.
The 35,000-cap Copenhell took place in Copenhagen from 14-17 June and featured acts such as Guns N’ Roses, Motley Crue, Def Leppard, Pantera and Slipknot.
“We have not previously recorded any incidents of drugging at Copenhell, and it has not been a problem that we specifically addressed or warned our audience about,” adds Nissen. “But when we see seven to 10 cases, unfortunately, we cannot say that we have done enough in terms of prevention. It is definitely a problem we will address and take measures to combat.”
“We’re delighted to join forces on our mission to stamp out spiking with the Association of Independent Festivals”
Other Danish festivals such as Smukfest are calling for further dialogue on the subject, while trade body Dansk Live has vowed to address the issue.
Elsewhere, the UK’s Association of Independent Festival (AIF) has announced a partnership with LGBT+ anti-abuse charity Galop and anti-spiking charity Stamp Out Spiking to bolster its Safer Spaces Charter.
Stamp Out Spiking was established to tackle increasing incidents of spiking across the UK and worldwide. The charity exists to highlight the dangers of spiking, and offer effective and practical solutions to keep people safe in pubs, clubs, house parties, festivals and beyond.
“We’re delighted to join forces on our mission to stamp out spiking with the Association of Independent Festivals,” says Dawn Dines, CEO and founder of Stamp Out Spiking. “Working together will make such a difference in safeguarding men and women at festivals across the UK. Highlighting how these cowardly crimes are taking place, sharing key information on the typical signs and symptoms, will make it so much more difficult for perpetrators and ultimately safeguard festival goers.”
The partnerships have contributed to new Safer Spaces resources that directly addresses the needs of LGBT+ survivors of abuse, and the broader issue of spiking.
“It’s important for AIF to work towards creating safer and more inclusive spaces for everyone, and work with those who provide specialised support,” says AIF membership & operations coordinator Phoebe Rodwell-Carson. “We hope to build on this with as many festival organisers as possible, supporting them in upholding their duty of care towards music fans and festival staff, whilst ensuring we remain inclusive and open to all.”
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AIF targets festival first-timers with new scheme
The Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) has launched a new campaign and fund aimed at increasing access to festivals for people aged 18+ across the UK.
The First Festival Campaign is based on the fact that many people who turned 18 during the Covid pandemic missed out on their first festival experience due to lockdown.
Anyone in the UK who was/is 18 years of age between 1 September 2019 and 31 August 2023 can register interest in attending one of AIF’s member festivals via the First Festival website. Individuals and organisations are able to make donations to this campaign here.
Tickets will be released as funding targets are met, with eligible 18-year-olds on the waiting list able to buy a ticket for their chosen festival for just £18. Shambala, Kendal Calling, BlueDot, Nozstock: The Hidden Valley, End Of The Road and British Country Music Festival are among the initial sign ups.
“Everyone should have a first festival experience, and it should be a thrilling and vital part of every person’s journey into adulthood”
“I was speaking to some students recently who are set to graduate this year, and it became apparent that none of them had ever attended a festival,” says AIF CEO John Rostron. “It really hit me just what an impact Covid had on their lives. So we decided to do something about it. Everyone should have a first festival experience, and it should be a thrilling and vital part of every person’s journey into adulthood.
“So many of us have wonderful festival memories to share, and brilliant festival stories to tell. We’re hoping that there’ll be individuals and organisations who are able to spare some money to put into the fund to help people attend their first festivals this year.”
In launching the campaign, AIF has taken inspiration from European countries such as Germany, France, Spain and Italy where those turning 18 are given a voucher worth between €200 and €500 by their government to be spent on cultural events and activities.
The full list of festivals to have signed up includes 110 Above Presents: OTHR Festival; Above & Beyond Brighton Beach; Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival; BlueDot Festival; British Country Music Festival; Camp Wildfire Festival; Chase & Status Brighton Beach; Deva Fest; El Dorado; End of The Road Festival; Green Belt; Green Gathering; Kendal Calling; NASS Festival; Noisily; Nozstock: The Hidden Valley; PennFest; Readipop Festival; Rock Oyster; Shambala; Takedown Festival; UK Tech-Fest; Underneath The Stars Festival; Valley Fest; and We Out Here.
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AIF festivals to attract 3.3m fans in 2023
The UK’s Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) has revealed its events are on course to attract a total audience of 3.3 million in 2023.
The trade body represents the interests of 105 UK music festivals, ranging from 500 to 80,000 capacity, including the likes of GreenBelt, El Dorado, Deershed, Valley Fest, End of The Road, Pitchfork London, Field Maneuvers and We Out Here.
Based on a survey of members carried out in April 2023, AIF festivals are heading for a collective gross revenue of £195 million this year, with a gross expenditure of £177m, while members will spend £36m on music talent.
The findings have been published in the organisation’s first ever Festival Forecast report, which provides economic forecasts for its membership, as well as detailing issues facing the sector and potential solutions, and will become a regular fixture in the music industry calendar.
“We wanted to better understand the collective impact and the collective issues that our festivals share”
“As the number of festivals joining AIF grows, we wanted to better understand the collective impact and the collective issues that our festivals share,” says AIF CEO John Rostron. “The AIF Festival Forecast is an important snapshot of where we are as an association of events at this time. It will inform our work over the coming months, and support policy makers and the wider sector in better understanding the vital role AIF festivals play in the music ecosystem.”
The AIF membership will stage 11,853 performances collectively this summer, with 74% of members featuring female headliners on their bill, and 15% having a 50/50 male/female headline split.
The report also identifies a number of key issues facing member festivals in 2023, along with concrete solutions that will be spearheaded by AIF. These include continued lobbying for a VAT reduction from 20% to 5% for festivals in the face of rising supply chain costs; and public facing campaigns for government support for young audiences affected by the cost of living crisis and Covid closures.
The 2023 edition of the Festival Forecast report can be found here.
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Euro festival bosses upbeat ahead of 2023 season
European festival bosses tell IQ they are approaching the 2023 season with positivity as a mixed picture emerges of the sector’s fortunes.
Download’s Germany spin-off was cancelled yesterday, with organisers citing production issues caused by the “massive number of open-air events”. The event joined a number of other major festivals including Falls Festival (Australia), Rolling Loud (US), Summerburst (Sweden), Hills of Rock (Bulgaria), InMusic (Croatia), Wireless Germany, Hear Hear (Belgium) and Tempelhof Sounds and Tempelhof Sounds Presents (Germany) in not returning this year.
FKP Scorpio CEO Folkert Koopmans, meanwhile, recently laid bare the post-pandemic financial struggles faced by the scene, reckoning that only 20% are still profitable. However, more encouraging reports have surfaced elsewhere in the marketplace.
DEAG chief Peter Schwenkow tells IQ the business is “on track with our business plan” for the summer ahead. The Berlin-headquartered company added Germany’s electronic music-oriented Airbeat One and psychedelic trance festival Indian Spirit to its portfolio last year, and also runs outdoor events such as the UK’s Live at Chelsea, Kew the Music and Belladrum through its Kilimanjaro Live subsidiary.
In its Q1 report last week, DEAG revealed more than 500,000 tickets have already been sold for its open-air festivals, and Schwenkow describes demand as “strong and late”, adding that cost control is the circuit’s overriding concern.
“Frankly, it’s a challenge to navigate rising costs while keeping the ticket prices as low as possible”
Also in Germany, FKP Scorpio MD Stephan Thanscheidt has a similar viewpoint when it comes to the biggest challenge facing the business.
“That would be, without a doubt, the rising production costs, which averaged across all sectors are over 40% higher than before the pandemic,” he tells IQ. “The reasons for this are the long-term consequences of the pandemic and the terrible war in Ukraine, which have made energy in particular more expensive. This effect is, after all, felt in all sectors of the economy and had in the meantime made itself felt in Germany with the highest inflation in 70 years.”
Thanscheidt continues: “In this climate, we have to finance every single item of our major events ourselves: Every metre of construction fencing, the entire technical infrastructure such as stages, sound, lighting and video technology, but also tent structures, sanitary facilities, space rentals, rapidly rising personnel costs and artist fees, GEMA, insurance, cleaning, innovation as well as sustainability.
“This incomplete list alone makes it clear that a very large part of our turnover is spent on covering these enormous costs. At the same time, we do our utmost to pass on only a fraction of these costs to our guests, as the comparatively moderate increase in ticket prices shows.
“Frankly, it’s a challenge to navigate rising costs while keeping the ticket prices as low as possible. So far, we’ve kept our prices on the lower end of the spectrum at our own expense, but we won’t be able to hold this up forever – the economy as a whole needs to go back to normal.”
“Advance sales for this year have started with record sales in 2022, and the overall demand is still strong”
Speaking to Radio Eins, Stephan Benn from German cultural association Liveinitiative NRW estimates that festival ticket prices have risen by 30% on average in the country (albeit tickets for several 2022 events were frozen at 2020 prices).
Tickets for Nuremberg’s Rock im Park are priced at up to €300 – an increase of around €70 on last year – necessitated by rising costs of 45% “in many areas”, according to spokesperson Carolin Hilzinger. Elsewhere, metal institution Wacken Open Air sold out in five hours after raising its admission price from €239 to €299 and adding an extra day, while Lollapalooza Berlin increased prices by €10 but has sold more tickets than at the same time last year.
Thanscheidt says that ticket sales for FKP’s festival season got off to a record-breaking start, and remain healthy. Its flagship Hurricane and Southside events will welcome the likes of Muse, Die Ärzte, Kraftklub, Placebo, Billy Talent, The 1975 and Queens Of The Stone Age next month.
“Advance sales for this year have started with record sales in 2022, and the overall demand is still strong,” says Thanscheidt. “The fact that our festival brands like Hurricane and Southside are among the very few major festivals in Germany heading for a sell-out this year is a great result in view of the overall economic situation and increased costs everywhere. We’re thankful and happy, although margins are very slim to non-existent – even with a fully sold-out festival.”
“Squeezing festivals and their clients with exploding artist fees is not a sustainable development for the entire industry”
In Switzerland, Paléo Festival booker Dany Hassenstein is toasting a record-breaking sellout for the Nyon event, which will host artists such as Rosalia, Indochine, Martin Garrix, Black Eyed Peas, Sigur Ros, Alt-J, Aya Nakamura and Placebo.
“We are observing increasing general demand from all generations,” Hassenstein tells IQ. “Festivals’ social and environmental responsibility is more and more important. Support from festival for social media content creation by visitors is a must.”
Nonetheless, Hassenstein points out issues regarding “general inflation, overall rental costs and lack of qualified staff”, as well as rising artist fees.
“Squeezing festivals and their clients with exploding artist fees is not a sustainable development for the entire industry,” he adds.
“Sales for 2023 are holding up well, with audiences choosing festivals as good value events that they want to attend”
John Rostron, CEO of the UK’s Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) tells IQ that sales are “holding up well” within the organisation’s membership, which reached 100 earlier this year.
“There are no plans for any Association of Independent Festival members to cancel their festivals,” notes Rostron. “Sales for 2023 are holding up well, with audiences choosing festivals as good value events that they want to attend. Lots of people are taking up payment plans too, paying a little every month, and that seems to be helping everyone make their way to their favourite events.”
Rostron points out, however, that a few member festivals have announced that this year will be their last event.
“There are some similar themes for each one choosing to come to an end: the rising costs of putting on an event – the fees artists are charging and the supply chain costs, which have risen by around 30% are the two biggest problems – have all increased what was already a risky business into something they no longer want to be involved in.
“Of course, the odd thing is that all of these events are either now sold out, or way ahead in terms of selling tickets, as everyone wants to make sure they go one last time. So at least they’ll all have a really good send off.”
Festival Republic MD Melvin Benn also offered his thoughts on the current state of play. Launching the company’s upcoming series of events in Dublin’s Marlay Park, Benn said the cost of putting on large events in Ireland is “not prohibitive yet” and doesn’t expect it to become so despite costs “going through the roof”.
“We work hard every single day to keep the prices at an economic level,” said Benn, as per the Irish Examiner. “I think we do that successfully which is why we have the equivalent of seven sold-out nights at Marlay Park. I think it’s a testament to how we work so hard to keep them down.”
NEC Birmingham signs up to festival trade bodies
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.”
AIF’s Paul Reed on what’s next for indie festivals
Outgoing Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) chief Paul Reed has praised the “diverse, vibrant” sector but warns it still faces a “myriad of challenges” as he prepares to depart the trade body.
Reed, who exits the UK organisation this week after a fruitful nine-year stint, is set to join the Musicians’ Union (MU) as North of England regional organiser.
“I have long admired the Union’s vital work and it is crucial that musicians are supported and represented. Their work underpins our entire industry,” he says. “On a personal level, it is fantastic to be working for an organisation that my grandfather, a trumpet player, was a member of for most of his life.
“I look forward to working alongside the team to advance and protect the interests of MU members across the North of England, returning to the region that I started my career in as a live music promoter. I can’t wait to get started.”
Sŵn Festival co-founder and former Welsh Music Foundation chief John Rostron has already been named as Reed’s successor at the AIF. He officially begins his tenure on 18 November. Rostron is a former AIF member and vice-chair and also founded the Association of Independent Promoters (AIP).
“Despite the short term challenges, I’m not worried about the long term health of the sector”
“I’m delighted that John has accepted the job,” Reed tells IQ. “We had just under 40 applications and interviewed seven people. It was a very rigorous interview process, including asking each candidate to set out their vision for their first six months to a year in the job, and John certainly made a big impression.
“He’s a former member and vice-chair of the organisation and has been a promoter, and he was actually inspired by the AIF to set up AIP, which was very much influenced by our model, so he has experience of setting up a trade association successfully. We had some very strong candidates, but we ultimately felt that John had the edge.”
Turning his attention to the independent festival scene as a whole, Reed suggests the market is still “very much in recovery phase” following the lost years of the pandemic.
“It’s still facing a myriad of challenges,” says Reed. “People are grappling with pricing – what is the appropriate price point in the economic context? But on the more positive side, it’s a very diverse, vibrant sector that is about risk taking and I feel that is an important part of the cultural fabric of this country. They take those risks, put on those shows and enable audiences to enjoy them, and I think that will remain important.
“Despite the short term challenges, I’m not worried about the long term health of the sector. To summarise, people need these events and they need a trade association that represents them as well.”
“AIF won’t be here for the next crisis if it isn’t invested in during times of less extreme turbulence”
The organisation has seen its membership grow more than 137% (from 40 to 95) under Reed’s leadership, with AIF now representing just under half of all UK festivals that are 5,000+ capacity.
“I know how difficult it is for festival organisers right now with cost increases, the supply chain and the impact of the cost of living crisis,” he says. “But AIF won’t be here for the next crisis if it isn’t invested in during times of less extreme turbulence. So I’m grateful to all the members that have continued to see value and supported us.”
AIF has won a number of other key battles for independent festivals with Reed at the helm, including convincing the Home Office to not undertake a detrimental review of Special Police Services charges for events; achieving a reduction in the PRS rate for festivals following an industry-wide, three-year negotiation; and triggering parliamentary debates on business rates for festival and event sites.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, meanwhile, AIF successfully lobbied government for festival inclusion in the Culture Recovery Fund, and supported each member festival application – 70% of which were successful, unlocking over £11m in survival funds for festival promoters.
“I saw an opportunity to turn AIF into an organisation that had sharper teeth”
AIF also financially supported the recent launch of a Green Events Code, developed by industry steering group Vision:2025, which is intended to provide clear standards and shared targets for sustainability that are understood and adopted by all stakeholders across the outdoor festival and events industry, including net zero.
And reflecting on his legacy at the association, Reed adds: “I saw an opportunity to turn it into an organisation that had sharper teeth. I thought there were a number of issues that we could have a real impact on in terms of campaigns and I think the focus is where it needs to be.
“I feel that I’m leaving an AIF that is listened to, because it’s trusted and credible. We’re open and pragmatic, but we’re absolutely dogged in the pursuit of advancing and protecting our members. So I think it’s in pretty good shape and it’s in incredibly good hands as we look towards the next phase.”
Subscribers can view Reed’s recent Comment piece for IQ Magazine here.
Sŵn Fest founder John Rostron named new AIF CEO
Former Welsh Music Foundation chief John Rostron has been named as the new CEO of the UK’s Association of Independent Festivals (AIF).
His appointment was announced during today’s (2 November) AIF AGM, with Rostron officially beginning his tenure on 18 November following a two-week handover period with current CEO Paul Reed.
Rostron, who co-founded Sŵn Festival in Cardiff in 2007 and completed an exit strategy sale in 2018, is a former member and vice-chair of AIF and is also the founder and current chair of the Association of Independent Promoters (AIP).
“There are plenty of ways that AIF can and will make a meaningful difference for its members”
“It’s a great honour to take on this role at a time when AIF feels more important than ever,” says Rostron. “My thanks to outgoing CEO Paul Reed for all he has done for the organisation in raising its profile, value and relevance.
“Festivals are facing numerous challenges as they grapple with pricing alongside growing costs across the supply chain, all while music fans themselves face a cost-of-living crisis. Add to that a vital renewed focus on climate action, audience welfare and diversity, equity and inclusion, and there are plenty of ways that AIF can and will make a meaningful difference for its members.”
Rostron, who will step down from his role at AIP upon starting at AIF, co-founded the Welsh Music Prize and has also held consultant and advisory roles at Arts Council Wales and Sound Diplomacy, as well as having been a development manager at From The Fields.
“John is a tremendously experienced executive, having fulfilled a range of high-level positions at many respected organisations”
Rostron joins recently appointed AIF chair and Notting Hill Carnival CEO Matthew Phillip in leading AIF into a new era.
“It’s a pleasure to welcome John to AIF,” says Phillip. “He’s a tremendously experienced executive, having fulfilled a range of high-level positions at many respected organisations, and with a track record of advocacy and championing independent music businesses. Paul Reed has done an exceptional job in growing AIF both in membership and influence, and I’m confident that John will help continue that trajectory, as well as taking AIF in new directions.”
Vice-chair Nick Morgan will stay in his role for several months to support the new CEO and chair and ensure continuity.
Four new members were also rotated onto the AIF board of directors at today’s AGM: Steven Campbell (CEO, Eskimo Dance), Suze Bayliss (festivals and marketing director, Vision Nine – Boardmasters and NASS), Stefan Poelman (co-founder and director, Zenfest), and Joe Barnett (managing director, New Bohemia Music – We Out Here, Outlook and Dimensions Festival).
AIF has also confirmed that its annual flagship Festival Congress event will return to Bristol for the second year in February 2023, with new venues for both the conference and festival party. Dates will be confirmed soon.
Ex-WWE marketing boss named UK culture secretary
Michelle Donelan has been named as the UK’s eighth culture secretary in five years as part of a cabinet reshuffle by new prime minister Liz Truss.
Donelan, who succeeds Nadine Dorries in the post, worked in the media and entertainment business prior to becoming an MP in 2015, serving stints with Pacific Magazines, The History Channel and WWE (World Wresting Entertainment), where was employed as an international marketing communications manager.
She was appointed education minister in 2021 and was briefly education secretary this past July, stepping down after 48 hours amid mass resignations by more than 50 government members in protest at then PM Boris Johnson’s leadership.
Live music trade bodies have welcomed Donelan to her new role while stressing the urgent challenges facing the sector.
“Congratulations to Michelle Donelan MP on her appointment as secretary of state at DCMS,” says outgoing Association of Independent Festivals CEO Paul Reed. “It remains a uniquely challenging time for festivals as we look to the 2023 season. Although now fully operational, we are still in a recovery phase, facing an ongoing perfect storm of rising costs, supply chain issues, record low consumer confidence and audiences making extremely difficult choices due to the cost of the living crisis.
“We look forward to working closely with the minister and ensuring appropriate interventions and support for our culture defining festival sector, which generates £1.76bn GVA for the UK economy annually and supports 85,000 jobs.”
“We need urgent government action on the energy crisis which threatens to permanently close hundreds of grassroots music venues”
The UK’s Music Venue Trust (MVT), meanwhile, has used the opportunity to reiterate the need for intervention to combat the surge in energy bills that threatens the future of around 30% of the entire network of venues.
“We need urgent government action on the energy crisis which threatens to permanently close hundreds of grassroots music venues,” says venue support manager Clare Cullen in a social media post. “In the short term this will require financial interventions to tackle extraordinary price rises. In the longer term, we need [Donelan’s] department to investigate the energy market for music venues (and the rest of the hospitality sector) and to work with us to find a way to to make energy supply reliable, sustainable, and affordable.”
With MVT chief Mark Davyd previously revealing that Dorries was the first culture secretary to decline a meeting with the organisation since it was founded in 2014, the organisation is keen to establish a relationship with her successor.
“The UK’s grassroots music venues face multiple challenges to their resilience, sustainability and economic viability,” says Cullen in an open letter to Donelan. “These challenges are solvable. Music Venue Trust would like to invite you to attend a Parliamentary event on 14 September in which we will be describing just one of these solutions – our plan to change the ownership model so that the music community itself has a say in the future if grassroots music venue. We need to #ownourvenues
“We want a working relationship with you and your department that delivers positive change for UK artists and venues. To that end we have today formally requested a meeting with you at your earliest opportunity. Music Venue Trust has met with eight of the nine previous secretaries of state for DCMS that have held this post since our creation in 2014. We look forward to meeting with you so we can begin the work of creating a truly world beating grassroots live music sector.”
AIF chief Paul Reed to step down
Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) chief Paul Reed is stepping down from his role after nine years at the trade body.
Reed, who will exit AIF in November, has served as general manager and latterly CEO of the organisation, which has seen its membership grow more than 137% (from 40 to 95) under his leadership. AIF now represents just under half of all UK festivals that are 5,000+ capacity.
AIF has won a number of key battles for independent festivals with Reed at the helm, including convincing the Home Office to not undertake a detrimental review of Special Police Services charges for events; achieving a reduction in the PRS rate for festivals following an industry-wide, three-year negotiation; and triggering parliamentary debates on business rates for festival and event sites.
During the Covid-19 pandemic meanwhile, AIF successfully lobbied government for festival inclusion in the Culture Recovery Fund, and supported each member festival application – 70% of which were successful, unlocking over £11m in survival funds for festival promoters.
“I’m proud to be leaving an organisation with a growing membership that has real influence on government and wider industry”
“Leading the AIF for nine years has been an incredible journey, and I’m proud to be leaving an organisation with a growing membership that has real influence on government and wider industry,” says Reed. “AIF has achieved some hugely impactful public campaigns and remains very visible and responsive to the needs of its members.
“The organisation rose to the challenge of representing and supporting members throughout the devastating impacts of Covid. With the first full festival season since the pandemic drawing to a close, it feels like the right time for me to seek new challenges, and an opportune time for AIF to appoint new leadership.”
Reed also took AIF from being a division of the Association of Independent Music (AIM) to becoming an autonomous limited company in 2018, and programmed six editions of AIF’s flagship Festival Congress.
The organisation is now seeking a successor, with application information available on the AIF website.
“I hope to share details of my next steps in the music industry soon but, in the meantime, I would like to thank all the AIF members who have supported us, as well as board members, past and present and the partners and the staff I’ve had the pleasure of working alongside,” adds Reed.
“Despite the challenges independent festivals continue to face, doing this job has been an enormous privilege and hugely enjoyable. The contribution that AIF members make to the UK on an economic and cultural level is undeniable, not to mention the immeasurable impact festivals have on well-being and mental health. The sector will remain close to my heart, and I look forward to seeing AIF and its membership continue to thrive.”
“Paul has done an incredible job for the AIF, raising the profile of independent festivals, and ensuring their voices were heard alongside the global corporations”
AIF board members have paid tribute to Reed’s contribution.
“These are going to be big boots to fill,” says Zac Fox, AIF board member and COO of Kilimanjaro Live. “Paul has done an incredible job for the AIF, raising the profile of independent festivals, and ensuring their voices were heard alongside the global corporations. His work during the pandemic was exemplary and its arguable that the survival of a number of festivals could be attributed entirely to what he achieved on their behalf. He’ll be very much missed by our entire industry, and I envy those who he’ll be fighting for next.”
AIF vice-chair and We Are The Fair CEO Nick Morgan adds: “Paul has been instrumental in the success of AIF over the last nine years, lobbying various Government departments to ensure we as an industry are never forgotten. Paul was one of the key industry figureheads during the pandemic fighting on behalf of the independent festival sector, ensuring the DCMS better understood our sector during one of the most turbulent periods in our industry’s history.”
Notting Hill Carnival boss named new AIF chair
The UK’s Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) has named Notting Hill Carnival CEO Matthew Phillip as its new chair.
Phillip is the CEO of London’s leading Carnival development agency, Carnival Village Trust, which is dedicated to supporting and delivering an integrated programme of carnival arts.
In addition, Phillip is the CEO of Notting Hill Carnival Ltd, the organisation that manages Notting Hill Carnival, and MD of Mangrove Carnival Arts CIC.
“The AIF has shown itself to be an incredible champion for independent festival operators – no more so than in recent years, both during the pandemic and what is still now a very difficult time for promoters all over the country,” says Phillip. “It’s with great pride that I take on the role of AIF chair. I look forward to offering my experience and expertise to further the organisation’s great work and help it evolve to meet today’s challenges.”
“It remains a critical time for AIF as we emerge from the worst effects of the pandemic”
Phillip succeeds Jim Mawdsley, who has stepped down after a seven-year tenure.
At AIF, Philip will work alongside the organisation’s board, vice-chair Nick Morgan and CEO Paul Reed.
“Following a robust search for the right candidate, I’m delighted to welcome Matthew as the new chair of AIF,” says Reed. “Matthew brings a wealth of relevant experience in governance and leadership as the CEO of the globally renowned Notting Hill Carnival, among other important roles.
“It remains a critical time for AIF as we emerge from the worst effects of the pandemic. Our members are facing some very difficult trading conditions, and we have a renewed focus on climate action, audience welfare and diversity. AIF’s role as a collective voice and support network to our members remains vital and I look forward to working with Matthew to ensure that the organisation evolves and continues to be a powerful advocate for the independent festival sector.”
Reed recently spoke to IQ about the UK festival sector’s “incredibly challenging” summer.