Five panels to watch out for at the AIF Festival Congress

Five panels to watch out for at the AIF Festival Congress

The Association Of Independent Festivals (AIF) holds its flagship Festival Congress event in Cardiff from October 30-31.

Featuring a two-day conference and the Independent Festival Awards, the fourth annual Festival Congress will host more than 400 delegates. The first day will take place within the surroundings of National Museum Cardiff, with the second day at the Wales Millennium Centre (WMC).

Here, AIF general manager Paul Reed picks out five stand-out panels from the gathering...

Keynote address from John McGrath (Artistic director and CEO of Manchester International Festival). Monday 30th, 11am. 

Reed says: “The keynote often sets the tone for the weekend and its important for us to look outside of greenfield events for inspiration. There is a staggering amount of multi-arts content across a major city with MIF and the ‘What is the City but the people’ launch was inspiring, inclusive and especially poignant coming just a few weeks after the Manchester Arena terrorist atrocity”

Zoe Cormier (author) quick fire talk - Sex, Drugs & Rock ‘n’ Roll. The Science of Hedonism and the Hedonism of Science. 11.25am, Monday 30th

Reed says: “Our theme this year is ‘Pseudoscience’ and the parallels between festival promoters and scientists are obvious, in terms of exploration and pushing the boundaries of their chosen medium, though there is no exact science to promoting a festival. Zoe is a great writer and speaker and we think that the subject of the science of hedonism is very relevant to festivals!”

Brave New worlds panel- Tuesday 31st, 11.10am.

Reed says: “Creative production and interactive experiences are now so integral to a festival’s identity and independent festivals are at the frontier of this. Having a discussion with the brains behind some of these elements at Boomtown Fair, Shangri La (Glastonbury), Bestival, the Coalescence Collective and Wilderness is not to be missed.”  

The Independent Festival Awards. Monday 30th from 7pm. 

Reed says: "Speaking of frontiers, its an honour for AIF to celebrate Secret Garden Party founder Freddie Fellowes with our inaugural pioneer award this year, alongside a well-deserved and overdue Act of Independence accolade for Greenbelt. The butterfly effect of Fred starting a party and the ripples it created in so many people’s lives can’t be underestimated and SGP has been a huge influence on how UK festivals have developed. The awards are now a now legendary end of season party and we’ve a few tricks up our sleeve in terms of décor and the theme this year.”

Growing Pains panel- Tuesday 31st, 2.50pm.

Reed says: “Growth is an objective of almost every festival organiser but this session will be a confessional look at what is really driving this with the organisers of Deershed, Kendal Calling, ArcTanGent and Victorious, all of whom have been through this on some level- They will talk about how much ego and competition play a role, the opportunities that growth presents and the challenges of managing it. It’s a vital and healthy discussion to have right now with so many festivals experiencing rapid growth.”

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