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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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“Refreshed” Independent Festival Awards reveals 2019 shortlist

The Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) has announced the shortlist for the 2019 Independent Festival Awards, which will take place on 6 November as part of the UK association’s sixth Festival Congress.

Taking place once again at 92 Burton Road in Sheffield, this year’s winners will be announced during an awards ceremony hosted for the first time by actor, writer and comedian Thanyia Moore.

In 2017, Moore joined the likes of Katherine Ryan, Andi Osho, Sarah Millican, Miss London Hughes and Desiree Birch when she was crowned Funny Women champion, beating over 400 women in the process and also reaching the semi-finals of the BBC New Comedy Award in 2018.

In a shake-up for the Independent Festival Awards, there are nine awards categories in total this year, designed to recognise success and innovation across the independent festival industry. These include ‘unique festival arena’, ‘smart marketing campaign’, ‘live act of the year’ and four new categories: ‘European festival of the year’, ‘backstage hero’, ‘in on the ground floor’ (forward-thinking artist booking) and ‘never mind the pollocks’ (best festival artwork).

The Smirnoff Arctic Disco at Snowbombing Austria, the Seaside Stage at Victorious, the Street at Beat-Herder, Elephant’s Grave at Nozstock and the Roadhouse at Black Deer Festival are all up for unique festival arena this year.

The contenders for live act of the year, presented in association with PRS for Music, are Kokoko!, Yola, the Murder Capital, Black Futures and Bloxx.

Elsewhere, Pete the Monkey (France), Snowbombing (Austria), Let It Roll (Czech Republic), Dunk! Festival (Belgium) and Blue Balls Festival (Switzerland) are in the running for the inaugural European festival of the year award.

Nominees across other categories include Standon Calling, Barn on the Farm, Twisterella, Deer Shed and the Mighty Hoopla.

“We’re delighted with the shortlist, after receiving a record number of nominations from our members”

AIF CEO Paul Reed says: “We’re refreshing the Independent Festival Awards this year, with a new host and four new categories. The awards were set up as an irreverent alternative to other award shows, and the ultimate end of season celebration for the independent sector – so it’s important to keep moving. We’re delighted with the shortlist, after receiving a record number of nominations from our members, proving there is no shortage of creativity and innovation in the independent festival sector.

“We’re doing even more with the production and theme of the awards this year to emphasise that festival feel – and we’ve introduced a European Festival of the Year category to demonstrate that, no matter what, the UK industry will remain a Europe-wide market and community.”

Bear Growls will DJ at the awards, which will be followed by an after-show party at Yellow Arch Studios with DJ Katie Owen.

AIF has also announced the final Festival Congress schedule, including an opening keynote from Owen Kingston, artistic director of immersive theatre company Parabolic Theatre, whose productions include For King and Country and Land of Nod.

Kingston joins over 45 speakers, including previously announced Bing Jones (Extinction Rebellion), rock’n’roll photographer Jill Furmanovsky, Bert Cole (Arcadia Spectacular), Rebecca Wrigley (Rewilding Britain), Chris Sheldrick (what3words) and many more, with panels and workshops on topics including sustainability, the nature of independence, volunteer management, festival apps and data, licensing and contingency planning.

Find the complete awards, as well as a list of of Congress speakers and ticket information, at festivalcongress.com.


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AIF announces full Festival Congress 2019 programme

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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