AIF welcomes new members and reflects on Covid response at AGM
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• CEO Paul Reed praises indie festival sector for rising to coronavirus challenge.
• Representatives from Boomtown Fair, Black Deer and Elderflower Fields join the AIF Board, with
• 17 new festivals have joined trade association since last year
The Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) held its second Annual General Meeting today, welcoming 17 new members, three new board members and a new Vice Chair.
In addition, CEO Paul Reed gave an overview of how the association has responded to the Covid-19 crisis and the challenges that lie ahead for the sector.
Shindig Festival, We Are FSTVL, Ealing Summer Festivals, Radar Festival, King’s Jam, The Mightly Hoopla, Noisily, Camp Wildfire, Red Rooster, Cheltenham Jazz Festival, Bearded Theory’s Spring Gathering, Rock Oyster, Tranzmission, Mostly Jazz, Leopallooza, NASS and Inside Out have all joined the UK trade body since its last AGM.
AIF’s membership now stands at 67 in total, with a collective capacity of over 900,000.
Speaking at the meeting, which was held virtually this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, AIF CEO Paul Reed said: “It feels like a strange time to be growing in size but, more than ever, independent festivals understand the value of the collective and a spirit of mutual support – something that is at the core of AIF’s mission as a representative body. We exist to fight your corner and, particularly in times of crisis, we have felt real strength in numbers.”
In addition, Nick Morgan, CEO of The Fair, was named as new Vice Chair of the association and AIF welcomed new board members Anna Wade (Boomtown Fair), Chris Russell-Fish (Black Deer) and Stuart Balkham (Elderflower Fields) as part of an annual rotation.
The AIF membership and invited friends also heard a keynote from Ruth Daniel,CEO and Artistic Director of In Place Of War - a global organisation that uses creativity as a tool for positive change in places of conflict. The organisation enables grassroots change-makers in music, theatre and across the arts to transform a culture of violence and suffering into hope, opportunity and freedom.
Looking back on the incredibly tough year experienced by independent festivals and ‘the lost season’ as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, Reed praised event organisers saying that “The independent festival sector has proved to be incredibly resilient, and AIF itself may yet emerge from this stronger, with a more engaged membership and a louder collective voice heard clearly across Government and the wider public.”
Reed highlighted what AIF has done to support members, including: an extensive media campaign highlighting the urgent risk faced by festival organisers; multiple surveys presented to Government to make the case for the sector; successfully lobbying DCMS to make festivals explicitly eligible to apply for the £1.57bn Cultural Recovery Fund and supporting each member in their application; and confirming festival eligibility for the temporary 5% VAT cut.
The AIF Ops group is now leading on festival specific guidance and planning considerations that will form an addendum to The Purple Guide andwill hopefully support festivals in planning for 2021.
Looking ahead, Reed highlighted ongoing lobbying efforts, the outcome of the Coronavirus Recovery Fund applications, an industry-wide campaign for a Government-backed reinsurance scheme, premises license fee rollovers, and an extension to the 5% VAT cut among points of focus in the short term.
“Then there is the long-term, the bigger picture, if it can be glimpsed through the fog of the pandemic,” he reminded members. “Continuing to lead on the climate emergency; looking very closely at diversity and inclusion; and Brexit, of course, which is going to impact on the entire live sector, from touring to concerts to festivals.
“There will be numerous challenges that lie ahead. We’re not out of the woods and back into the fields yet. But I’m convinced that, if we can ‘bridge’ for long enough, there is an incredible appetite for live music, entertainment and escapism. People are yearning for collective experiences and moments that resonate for a lifetime. Where better than a festival? As soon as we can, we’ll come roaring back.”
“AIF will remain nimble, responsive and here to support and represent its members. This year has proven, above all else, that we can all rise to a challenge.”
September 16, 2020 6:00pm ET by Pressparty