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Sam Pagett, a 30under30 alumnus, is the director and operations Manager of Wizzafest CIC, a three-day camping festival celebrated for its inclusivity and vibrant community spirit. Here, Pagett opens up on the challenges faced by reviving Wizzafest following a four-year hiatus. She also discusses influential figures, industry issues and future plans.

What made you want to get involved in the industry and why?

At just 16, I volunteered at Wizzafest – a festival that, back then, drew around 400 people. I arrived early, eager to help, and was tasked with following the founder, Emma Jones, jotting down her ideas and plans. This hands-on experience opened my eyes to the intricate layers of festival management and the profound impact it could have on a community. It was incredibly inspiring to see how Emma’s vision transformed into a vibrant festival. Over the years my involvement in the festival grew along with the festival itself.

What is the biggest challenge you have overcome?

One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced was reviving Wizzafest after a four-year hiatus. This involved assembling a completely new team and navigating the complex process of applying for Arts Council funding. Thankfully, we were successful in securing the grant, which has been pivotal in allowing us to come back stronger than ever. This challenge not only taught us valuable lessons from past festivals but also provided an opportunity to reinvent and enhance the festival experience with fresh ideas and renewed energy.

Is there anyone in the industry who has influenced or inspired you?

Emma Jones, the founder of Wizzafest, has been a monumental influence and mentor to me. Wizzafest mirrors Emma’s diverse talents as a musician, music therapist, and mother. Her unique blend of artistic and therapeutic expertise ensures that every aspect of Wizzafest is imbued with creativity, healing, and joy. Emma encourages everyone involved with the festival to explore and express their passions. Her ability to integrate her personal interests with her professional goals continually inspires me to do the same in my career.

If there was one thing you could change about the live events industry overnight, what would it be?

If I could change one thing about the live events industry overnight, it would be to enhance the support and funding mechanisms that make festivals and live events more accessible and inclusive. Achieving the balance between keeping events affordable while also ensuring they are open and welcoming to everyone, including those from disadvantaged backgrounds or with disabilities, is a significant challenge. Greater support and funding could help event organisers cover necessary costs without compromising on the inclusivity of their events. This change would enable a broader and more diverse audience to experience and enjoy live events, enriching the cultural landscape for everyone.

How important are schemes such as AAA 30under30 and do you believe the industry does enough to support young professionals?

Programs like AAA 30under30 are incredibly important as they shine a spotlight on emerging talents within the live events industry. They offer much-needed recognition and open up opportunities for networking, mentorship, and career development, which are invaluable. However, the industry could still do more to nurture young professionals. Enhancing support through more comprehensive skill development programs, financial grants, and greater access to experienced mentors would significantly empower the next generation of event leaders to thrive and innovate.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

In ten years, I see myself as a leader in driving inclusivity within the events industry. My goal is to ensure that events are not only spectacular celebrations but also accessible and welcoming spaces for everyone, regardless of their background or abilities. I envision myself at the forefront of developing strategies and practices that make inclusivity a core aspect of event planning and execution. This commitment means continuously innovating and advocating for changes that allow all participants to feel valued and included in every event experience.

The Access All Areas 30Under30 is proud to be sponsored by Event Crowd. Founded in 2021 by Bournemouth 7s Festival founder Roger Woodall, Event Crowd has since welcomed more than 700 students onto its course and helped hundreds of alumni break into the events industry.

Find out more.