The Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) welcomed 17 new members, three new board members and a new vice-chair at its second annual AGM today.
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, bringing AIF’s membership to 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 (pictured) 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.”
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.
Reed praised the resilience of event organisers in the wake of the "lost season" due to the coronavirus crisis.
“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," he said.
There is an incredible appetite for live music, entertainment and escapism
Paul Reed, AIF
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 added. “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.”