30th AFO Conference is a Sold Out Success

‘Festivals and events have come a very long way,’ said the introduction to this year’s sell-out Association of Festival Organisers (AFO) Conference at Ettington Chase near Stratford upon Avon. Taking place from 11-13 November, the 30th annual gathering attracted over 200 delegates with 21 trade stands, including five artists’ agents.

Delegates were treated to 23 panels and presentations including one to ones, round table discussions and main stage presentations. Rob Kirkham, head of business development at PRS for Music, gave delegates an update on the latest LP tariff negotiations, and Mo Jones of TheTicketSellers, working with Jon Walsh of Shambala Festival, engaged a crowded room with news of the Eventree festival management system. The highlight of the weekend was a risk assessment and health and safety presentation from Mike Richmond of the Events Safety Shop, bringing delegates up to date with the latest on health and safety and CDM.

Women in Events featured in a double header with The Network of Women in Events (NOWIE) discussing women in prominent roles in festival and event management, and The White Ribbon Campaign focusing on women’s safety at festivals.

Balancing the programme, guidance came from David Agnew of The Met, Eddie Barcan from Glastonbury Festival and Chris Wade from Strada Music, while Paul Hawkins from Attitude is Everything gave an excellent presentation on accessibility for disabled people.

There were sessions on: ‘happy children equal happy adults’, revenue from trading, artists’ fees, ticket sales conversion rates, and open discussions on Arts Council funding, artists’ riders, and the use of photographs taken at events. Steve Heap, general secretary of AFO, presented his beginner’s guide to festival management.

In showcases across Friday and Saturday, 12 new acts were presented to a packed house and went away with several festival bookings. www.festivalorganisers.org

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