AFO Conference Agenda

What’s on at this year’s Association of Festival Organisers Conference.

The Association of Festival Organisers (AFO) has announced further details of the agenda for this year’s conference on 9, 10 and 11 November. Taking place at Stratford Manor Hotel near Stratford upon Avon, this year’s event will be a diverse mix of informative, practical, inspirational and entertaining seminars, discussions and talks.

AFO Conference 2018

Ticketing, marketing and PRS
Sessions are scheduled for topics ranging from ticketing (where to find the best deals), who should shoulder the responsibility of marketing events, the latest rules and regulations around security, and details of the new PRS tariff – where the money actually goes.

Just starting out?
The AFO Conference has always prided itself on being welcoming to those new to the festival and events industry. This year’s ‘Beginners Guide – an A-Z’ will offer top tips to those starting their journey. And there will be ample opportunity to pick up much more information from experienced organisers with talks and case studies about how to plan a festival sites from green fields to town centres. On hand too will be experts in many fields to answer specific questions on insurance, legal issues and accounting, dealing with contracts and artists, licensing and security.

Greening up events
The AFO continues to play a pivotal role in raising awareness of the socio-economic impact of the festival and events industry. This year’s seminar focusing on the plastics crisis will suggest ways in which the events industry can play its part in reducing and recycling waste. Speakers from a number of environmental organisations will discuss solutions on how we can help conserve the world’s natural resources and adopt renewable energy resources into our events.

Festival Organiser
Pic: Getty Images

Q&A with Ashley Hutchings MBE
Away from all the serious business of the day an in depth interview with Ashley Hutchings MBE, hosted by renowned journalist Colin Irwin, will no doubt bring out many interesting stories and amusing anecdotes. Hutchings, a founder member of Fairport Convention famed for inventing British folk rock has been working in the music business for nearly 60 years. Colin’s questions will explore his guest’s multi faceted career and what drives him to continue recording and touring in various guises. Delegates will also have an opportunity to ask Ashley their own questions.

Showcase concerts
Friday and Saturday evenings both offer showcase concerts which will give delegates the chance to find new artists for their festivals. These concerts have traditionally proven to be a valuable opportunity for up-and-coming artists to be booked for their first festival experience. The concerts are also free to the public.

“The AFO started as a meeting of minds and shared experiences and has grown to an annual gathering that helps guide those involved in the festival industry towards best practices across all areas of an event,” said Steve Heap, general secretary. “We keep our finger on the pulse of changes, new legislation and new initiatives as they affect the events industry so that we can bring those subjects to the conference and share the knowledge and ramifications.

“For newcomers, our aim is to put them on the right road to thinking about every aspect of what is involved in organising an event. And for those more experienced organisers, the conference is a mix of news, ideas and the best networking opportunity of the year.

“It is never too late to become part of our community. So often new members tell us they wished they had known about the conference when they first started their festival as we try to help people avoid the pitfalls.”

For more information about the conference visit
Tickets for the conference are now on sale here
To join the AFO, visit

AFO Conference Stratford Upon Avon


Friday 9 November

Gill Tee – director of Black Deer Festival
Gill will talk about her many years in the Events Business and how she brought that experience to help her first year organising a festival.

Saturday 10 November

Blue Planet Wake-up Call
What will you tell your grandchildren about polluting their earth? A two hour session addressing how festivals can play their part in reducing the amount of plastics in the environment, how they can deal with recycling issues, how they can reduce reliance on diesel and move towards renewable energy.

Chaired by Chris Johnson (Powerful Thinking/Kambe Events) the following industry experts will be discussing the issues and helping us find solutions:

  • Teresa Moore – A Greener Festival
  • Mary Corfield – Greenbelt Festival
  • Tim Benson – ZAP Concepts
  • Speaker for – RAW Foundation
  • Mark Laurie – 8th Plate
  • Liz Warwick – Sustainability consultant

A Load of Wristbands
A showcase of what ticket agencies can offer your event, featuring Gigantic, Eventim, Future Ticketing, Ticket Arena, Ticket Sellers, NEC Group.

Can/Should Agents and Managers Help Sell the Tickets?
Joe Heap (Towersey Festival) puts the case that they should.

From a Shed in the Woods
A closer look at how Wild Rumpus arrived and now runs two very successful festivals. Born from disappointing visits to festivals that provided little or no facilities for children, ‘Just So’ Festival has been nurtured from a shed in the woods to fill that gap. It is now the foremost family arts festival of its kind that puts children at the heart of its programming (and it is still organised from A Shed in The Woods).

How Much are you Really Worth?
Nick Morgan (CEO We Are the Fair) proposes that we are worth a lot more than they or even we believe. This seminar will look at the socio-economic impact of your festival on the community within which it is based. How does it affect local residents? Are they happy to have your mini invasion every year? Does your festival support local businesses, public amenities, and local charities? Would the local community suffer or be improved if your festival no longer happened or relocated?

Stick it in a Field
Let John Radford help you design the best festival greenfield site. This seminar will look at the practicalities of basically building a mini-town for a few days. Power, water, sanitation are just a couple of the basic necessities to start with. Ground Control will guide you through the essentials and beyond.

You Can’t run a Festival Here!
Yes you can says Ian Pease, director of the National Trust’s WOOD FEST.

Who Started all This?
I did (with my friends) says Ashley Hutchings, founder of British folk rock – Ex Fairport Convention, Steeleye Span, The Albion Band (still in) and a credlist that would take up five more pages. He is interviewed by the Music Press hero Colin Irwin (who knows everyone).

We do it in the Town Because……
A discussion with a number of festivals using their local town for their festival what is different, what are the benefits, how to with the council and local businesses, what are the problems and how to get round them

Sunday 11 November

The Beginners Guide – an A-Z
Aimed at organisers fairly new to this game – we have top tips and contacts.

Security and Crowds
You have them both and you need to hear the latest rules, regs and good practice. With Mark Harding, CEO UK Security

Musicians Friend – Fair Share Campaign
Rob Kirkham and Martin McGuire present the results of a deal that took longer than BREXIT – PRS New Tariff and how it affects your event. Kelly Wood looks at the impact from the musicians.

‘One 2 One’ Round Table Chats with the Experts
Your chance to get the latest on legal issues and licensing, insurance, funding, and the new boost for your budget – glamping.

PLUS a further major panel session with top speakers to be announced soon.

ALSO: Music, good food, real ale, and as always – THE BEST networking opportunities this side of next festival season!

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