As a 25-year-old, Access All Areas and EPS marketing executive, Gus Agostini can relate to a young generation that research has shown to be reluctant to return to major live events post-pandemic. He provides his perspective on the reasons why, and calls on the industry to take action to address the issue.

With recent data from LIVE showing a shocking reluctance among 18–24-year-olds to attend events post-pandemic, and with major shows becoming increasingly unaffordable to many, the festival industry faces a critical challenge in engaging and attracting young people.

For a generation where the majority are struggling with student loans and rising living expenses, the myriad costs associated with attending a festival, including travel, accommodation, on site F&B and the ticket itself, can present significant obstacles. This challenge is further exacerbated by the fact that several UK festivals have raised their prices post-Brexit and the pandemic. Drawing from personal experience, managing finances was not my strong suit during my teenage years. While initially, the idea of attending a festival with friends may sound appealing, I can understand how the reality may sound less appealing to the younger generation.

Perhaps this is just the grumpy old man in me talking, but I also believe that the type of music, and specifically the acts, play a significant role in the declining interest amongst the younger generation. I struggle to think of any artists with an exclusively teenage fanbase who have a reputation for delivering outstanding live performances or possessing a unique stage presence. Accessing alternative ways to experience live music, and more crucially, finding alternative forms of entertainment, has never been easier for the youth of today. If the artist in question doesn’t offer a special live experience, why bother?

“I deeply sympathise with the generation that had their first festival experience taken away by Covid.”

I deeply sympathise with the generation that had their first festival experience taken away by Covid. I wonder if many have never been to a festival as a result, maybe they feel as though the moment has passed. As the saying goes, “ignorance is bliss.”

Thankfully, there has been some recognition and action to combat this problem. An example is the AIF’s First Festival Campaign, which has been initiated to offer festival tickets to those who missed out on these vibrant experiences during the pandemic. This campaign is open to anyone in the UK who was or will be 18 years of age between 1 September 2019, and 31 August 31 2023. It represents a much-needed lifeline for young festival enthusiasts who may have had their dreams of attending these events dashed by the uncertainties of the past few years.

If you’re interested in delving deeper into this topic with insights from industry experts, consider attending the ‘Regaining Our Youth’ panel discussion, featuring AIF CEO John Rostron, the driving force behind the First Festival Campaign, at the Access All Areas Conference & Awards. He will be accompanied during the panel session by speakers including AEG Presents director of marketing European Festivals Preeti Rajan and S&C Productions head of marketing Sam Mellor.

Further details of the Access All Areas Conference & Awards on 16 November are available here.