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How Generation DIY are transforming the events landscape

The next generation of promoters and creatives are experiencing first hand the impact financial pressures and gentrification of urban areas have on the availability of traditional venues and the nightlife scene. But instead of shrinking from this challenge, members of Generation DIY are embracing opportunity.

A growing movement has emerged, made up of open-minded young promoters and creatives from all cultures and identities, who are hosting (and self-funding) purpose-led parties in both traditional spaces like clubs and bars, and also non-traditional venues such as daytime cafés, arts hubs or even their own homes.

We spoke to many Generation DIYers and have identified some important shifts in mindset that characterise this movement:

The idea that the promoter is commercially driven no longer holds
We met over 100 young people who are actively promoting and investing their own money to organise open events and provide a platform to showcase all types of talent. A big topic for this generation is diversity and inclusivity, and their numerous events are designed to work across divisions, minorities and identities, bringing to life the richness and diversity in our communities. These events are not exclusive and are not designed to make money. What matters more is they have purpose.

Venues’ lack of trust in aspiring event creators’ sincerity is an obstacle
Generation DIY highlighted real life stories about the obstacles younger promoters have to overcome when it comes to the preconceptions venues and providers have about them. Mostly, those are based on their age, perceived inexperience and in some cases a lower track record. Young creators often have to work extra hard to build trust in their professionalism, discipline and reliability.

A big topic for this generation is diversity and inclusivity

Policymakers can support this generation’s vision of night culture in city life
In the panel events we questioned and heard directly from those involved in nightlife, including Sacha Lord, the first official Greater Manchester night-time economy adviser. Despite trust in institutions and politicians being low, all involved saw great value in collaboration.

One example was the neighbourhood ‘gentrification’ that is taking hold in the very areas which house many clubs and great venues that would be ideal for these kind of independent, grassroots events. Policymakers in this area can work to ensure slick city developments also have potential for night-time space. There is an opportunity for groups to work more closely with councils, to ensure the needs of the night-time economy are built into long-term planning and strategy development by local authorities.

Venue managers and local authorities have an opportunity to be at the heart of an important wave of social engagement across the country. The new generation of promoters and collectives, through their sheer commitment and hard work, is behind a new approach to music-led evenings and parties, putting social action at their heart. This movement is gaining momentum and, as policymakers and economic advisors take notice, is set to make a difference.


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Festival trends for 2018

The festival experience is evolving, and 2018 looks set to be a time in which current trends gain significant traction. As the core demographic, millennials are the driving force behind the changing face of the modern festival.

The experience economy
As our recent research paper confirmed, millennials prioritise experiences over material goods. This will continue to have a significant and varied impact on the festival world this year. We’re already seeing innovation throughout the sector, for example, Camp Wildfire’s outdoor activities or mediaeval weapons training at Swordpunk. The desire to seek unique experiences is also inspiring the growth of experiential activation at festivals. At Festival №6, Old Mout (cider) solved two issues at once with a simple method: 1) Old Mout wanted to build awareness for the adventurous aspect of their brand, and 2) People don’t enjoy queuing at bars. The solution: They built an Old Mout slide that people could use to bypass the bar queue.

On a grander scale, interactive art installations are already common, and VR, AR and AI will eventually make such ideas bigger and more fantastical. As such, tech will become more common, and we’ll see more technology companies collaborate with both festival organisers and brands.

The desire to seek out new experiences also ties into the current wellness trend. In our recent research, we’ve seen that old-school festival hedonism is changing. Young people are drinking less, eating better and aspire to achieve physical and mental wellbeing. Many wellness pursuits are experiences in their own right. Wilderness Festival hosted hip-hop yoga, qoya dancing and ommersion, which mixes Mongolian overtone chanting with a gong bath and aromatherapy, and is an experience to remember.

We’ll see wellness continue to grow throughout 2018, following the success of events like Morning Gloryville and Soul Circus. Wellness is a natural fit for a festival’s communal vibe. As Morning Gloryville’s Samantha Moyo said in our documentary A New Dawn: Meet the Future of UK Nightlife, “We really looked at all aspects of clubbing and partying and we were just like, how can we make the journey different for people who come so the experience is much more healthy, grounded and transformative?”

“The tried-and-tested festival format of bands supplemented by little more than a comedy or film tent is on its way out”

The combination of the above factors means that music festivals are becoming much more diverse, colourful and experiential. The tried-and-tested festival format of bands supplemented by little more than a comedy or film tent is on its way out. Independent festivals, which have the freedom and courage to experiment and innovate, will continue to be the main drivers behind this change, before it eventually permeates the entire industry.

Inconspicuous technology
Looking at event technology, we predict that the truly impactful innovation will continue to seem quite unspectacular – at least compared to headline-grabbing tech such as VR, AR and on-stage holograms.

One example of how technology will subtly help improve festivals is the next generation of RFID technology. Its benefits include rapid event entry, shorter queues and faster, cashless transactions. RFID can create a wealth of data that can help event creators better understand and optimise their festivals, making it much easier to convince potential sponsors to come on board.

An ever-evolving range and depth of distribution and integration partnerships between ticketing companies and platforms for entertainment (eg Eventbrite’s integrations with Spotify, Facebook, Bandsintown or Ents24) will also make it easier for consumers to find and buy tickets. In an era in which sales via mass email newsletters are in decline, independent organisers can now sell directly to consumers via this distributed form of sales, bypassing existing monopolies on customer data, and building their own base of fans for future campaigns.

All in all, festivals will change for the better in 2018. We can expect more diverse experiences, and new-and-improved technology will benefit both the industry and consumers, but for the most part it will be a subtle evolution, rather than a dramatic sea change.

Millennials will be the ones that demand this change, as they strive for new experiences and wellness. Flexible, innovative and independent festivals are best placed to deliver on this. We can’t wait to see what the year ahead will bring.


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