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The two-day Event Production Show conference commenced today at ExCel London with the ‘Pain Killers’ session exploring how best the festival industry can tackle huge challenges such as soaring labour and supply chain costs, changing consumer ticket buying behaviour and a dearth of available headliners.

The conference’s opening panel not only saw leading events operators discuss the key pain points that arose in the 2023 season but also what is required to resolve them. Association of Intendent Festivals (AIF) CEO John Rostron, Boomtown Fair head of production Lana Elworthy, We Group CEO Nick Morgan and Wild Paths & Wild Fields festivals director Ben Street spoke of the urgent need for a reduced VAT rate on tickets.

Rostron gave an update on the AIF’s 5% For Festivals and called on everyone to write to their MP to highlight the need for the urgent reduction in the VAT rate on tickets.

Elworthy said pre-event comms and education around managing customer expectations was key in terms of informing the public about the challenges festivals face, while Morgan called on UK events professionals to copy their peers in the US and be move outspoken about the hugely positive impact the festival sector has, not only economically but also socially and culturally.

Other industry executives to take to the stage today included Edinburgh International Festival director of audiences Kate Carter, P&J Live MD Rob Wicks, Watchtower Group festivals director Sam Joss, Association For Electronic Music COO Finlay Johnson, Polygon Productions founder Eloise Angeles, L’Acoustics director of creative partnerships Julie Blore-Bizot, Live Nation Entertainment UK & Ireland head of sustainability Victoria Chapman and Music Declares Emergency co-founder Lewis Jamieson.

Among the topics tackled on day two of the EPS Conference, 29 February, will be event design, brand partnerships, carbon removed events and mental health resources. It will also see the presentation of the AAA 30 under 30 Awards.

Register here.