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AIF welcomes six new board members

The UK’s Association Of Independent Festivals (AIF) has announced six new board members.

As part of the organisation’s annual rotation, CEO Paul Reed welcomed Lauren Down (End Of The Road), Zac Fox (Kilimanjaro Live), Kate Osler (AEI/El Dorado), Jon Walsh (Shambala), Chris Rutherford (Boomtown Fair) and Gill Tee (Black Deer) to the board of directors at yesterday’s (11 November) AGM in London.

AIF, which now represents 90 festivals, also reported year-on-year membership growth of 34% and announced the return of its flagship Festival Congress at M Shed Museum in Bristol on 15 February 2022. The post-conference festival party will take place at Lost Horizon – an independent venue launched by the team behind Glastonbury’s Shangri La area.

The theme of this year’s AGM was ‘Resilience’ in recognition of the unprecedented challenges faced by the festival sector since the onset of the pandemic.

The fact that AIF has welcomed so many new members in recent months demonstrates the power of the collective

“When considering the last 18 months, resilience really is the word, and our sector should take great pride from the way it has adapted and survived during the pandemic,” says Reed. “AIF is pleased to have played its part in supporting independent festivals and fighting their corner.

“The fact that AIF has welcomed so many new members in recent months demonstrates the power of the collective and the need for community in difficult circumstances.”

Reaffirming its commitment to action on the climate emergency, the trade body revealed that it is supporting and funding an industry-wide green code of conduct that will be developed by Vision 2025. It also confirmed it will relaunch its Safer Spaces campaign and charter before the 2022 festival season to raise awareness around sexual harassment and violence, and promoting best practice at member events.

In addition, AIF announced a new, wide-ranging partnership with Music Support, which includes discounted Mental Health First Aid training for members and free access to Music Support’s recently launched Addiction And Recovery awareness training.

“The pandemic isn’t over, of course, but it’s good to be able to turn one eye to the future with some new faces on the board to drive us forward,” adds Reed. “There are plenty of other issues facing our industry that we have a duty to confront head on. Not least reaffirming our commitment to taking practical action on the climate emergency, as well as sexual violence and harassment at events.

“I’d also like to thank Music Support for their partnership in helping us strive for better mental health provisions for our members. It is more vital than ever given the turbulence of the last 18 months that they have access to the right support services.”

 


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2019 Independent Festival Awards winners unveiled

The Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) has crowned the winners of the 2019 Independent Festival Awards at a ceremony in Sheffield, UK.

The awards ceremony took place this evening (Wednesday 6 November) as a conclusion to the first day of AIF’s sixth Festival Congress.

Actor, comedian and writer Thanyia Moore hosted the awards, which saw prizes handed out across eight categories. Winners include Standon Calling (smart marketing), Kokoko! (live act of the year), the Street at Beat-Herder (unique festival arena) and Flavors of Africa (festival catering).

A host of new categories were introduced this year, with Pete the Monkey winning the European festival award; former Deer Shed festival creative director Megan Evans picking up the backstage hero gong; Deer Shed itself winning the ‘never mind the Pollocks’ category for best artwork; and Twisterella winning the ‘in on the ground floor’ award for forward-thinking artist booking.

Nominations were put forward to AIF’s 65 member festivals and later determined by a Festival Congress steering group vote.

“Congratulations to all of the winners and nominees, all of whom reiterate that the independent festival sector remains at the forefront of innovation and creativity”

“The Independent Festival Awards was a fantastic celebration and the awards ceremony felt like it had stepped up a gear with a new host, new categories and outstanding production that enhanced the overall independent festival feel of the evening,” comments AIF CEO Paul Reed.

“Congratulations to all of the winners and nominees, all of whom reiterate that the independent festival sector remains at the forefront of innovation and creativity.”

PRS for Music’s senior events manager Amy Field adds that the awards are an “important and relevant celebration of the independent festival sector”, acknowledging the “creativity and hard work” that is involved in all the festivals represented.

The first day of AIF’s Festival Congree took place at 1920s cinema the Abbeydale Picturehouse, with talks from from Extinction Rebellion’s Bing Jones, the Parabolic Theatre’s Owen Kingston and photographer Jill Furmanovsky, alongside a headline panel discussion about the nature of independence.

The second day of the conference will include a live recording of Rob da Bank’s ‘A to Z Of Festivals’ podcast with Deer Shed, and talks from Rewilding Britain’s Rebecca Wrigley, Tim Leigh of Stage One and a closing keynote from Arcadia Spectacular’s Bert Cole.


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Unwanted sexual behaviour ‘rife’ at UK festivals

Results of a new poll conducted by YouGov for the Press Association suggest some 22% of British festivalgoers have faced some kind of unwanted sexual behaviour at a music festival. This figure rises to almost one in three (30%) for just women, and almost half (43%) for women under 40.

Of those that have experienced sexual assault or harassment at a festival, only two percent go on to report the incident to the police. This severe under-reporting is representative of the issue on a wider level – a crime survey for England and Wales noted last year that 83% of victims do not report their experiences to police.

1,188 festivalgoers were surveyed to find this new information. It is thought that it is the first data of its kind. Tracey Wise, founder of Safe Gigs for Women, says: “We have struggled to find anyone with any definite statistics on this before now.

“It gives us something to show to festival organisers so we can say ‘you need to take this on board’.”

The report is particularly timely after a proposed ‘upskirting’ bill was blocked last week by one Conservative MP vote. Gina Martin, the woman responsible for the bill being put to parliament, was at British Summer Time in 2017 when a man sexually harassed her by taking a picture under her skirt.

“If people don’t intervene, then this behaviour becomes normalised.”

Writing for the BBC in 2017, she explained festival staff and police had been sympathetic to her cause – saying that the incident was harassment – but that there was little they could do because the law made it difficult to prosecute the act.

Though the report has no such data for upskirting, it does note that forceful and unwelcome dancing and sexualised verbal harassment were the most common forms of unwanted sexual behaviour at festivals.

Despite cases like Gina Martin’s and the statistics which suggest reporting of sexual offences is so low, Paul Reed, chief executive of the Association of Independent Festivals says festivalgoers should still report problems. “People shouldn’t feel that they need to tolerate the type of behaviour [at festivals] that they wouldn’t tolerate in the street.

“If people don’t intervene, then this behaviour becomes normalised.”

To try and combat the seemingly ever-present issue of sexual harassment and assault at music festivals, more than 60 members of the Association of Independent Festivals signed an anti-sexual harassment charter last year.

Findings from the survey can be found in the video below:

 


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