The Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) announced at its AGM today, 11 November, that its membership had grown 34% year-on-year and now consists of an estimated 40% of all UK festivals that are 5,000 capacity and over.
AIF, which now counts 90 festivals among its membership, also revealed at the AGM that its Festival Congress would be staged in February 2022.
It was also announced that six additions had been made to its board of directors. As part of AIF’s annual rotation, CEO Paul Reed welcomed Lauren Down (End Of The Road), Zac Fox (Kilimanjaro Live), Kate Osler (AEI/El Dorado), Jon Walsh (Shambala), Chris Rutherford (Boomtown Fair) and Gill Tee (Black Deer) to the organisation’s Board.
Reed also announced initial details of AIF’s first Festival Congress since the start of the pandemic. The one-day conference and festival party will take place in Bristol on Tuesday 15 February 2022. The conference will be held at M Shed Museum, with the party descending on Lost Horizon – an independent venue launched by the team behind Glastonbury’s legendary Shangri La area.
Following a difficult period for the festival industry, the theme of this year’s AGM was ‘Resilience’. AIF announced a new, wide-ranging partnership with Music Support, which includes discounted Mental Health First Aid training for members and free access to Music Support’s recently launched Addiction And Recovery awareness training. Music Support’s chief executive Eric Mtungwazi and advice and information manager Georgina Levers attended the AGM as guest speakers.
AIF reaffirmed its commitment to action on the climate emergency, revealing that it is supporting and funding an industry-wide green code of conduct that will be developed by Vision 2025. It said the code will set out practical, quantifiable steps to manage the industry’s impact, setting out top level shared principles, and will build upon the work done through AIF’s Drastic On Plastic and Take Your Tent Home initiatives.
AIF also confirmed it will relaunch its Safer Spaces campaign and charter before the 2022 festival season, working with relevant partners to raise awareness around sexual harassment and violence, and promoting best practice at member events.
Reed provided an overview of the association’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, and the support and representation it has provided for members over the last 18 months. This includes successfully lobbying DCMS to make festivals explicitly eligible to apply for the £1.57bn Cultural Recovery Fund, resulting in more than £11m in funding for AIF members.
Reed said: “When considering the last 18 months, resilience really is the word, and our sector should take great pride from the way it has adapted and survived during the pandemic. AIF is pleased to have played its part in supporting independent festivals and fighting their corner. The fact that AIF has welcomed so many new members in recent months demonstrates the power of the collective and the need for community in difficult circumstances.
“The pandemic isn’t over, of course, but it’s good to be able to turn one eye to the future with some new faces on the Board to drive us forward. There are plenty of other issues facing our industry that we have a duty to confront head on. Not least reaffirming our commitment to taking practical action on the climate emergency, as well as sexual violence and harassment at events.
“I’d also like to thank Music Support for their partnership in helping us strive for better mental health provisions for our members. It is more vital than ever given the turbulence of the last 18 months that they have access to the right support services.”