Exhibition venue NEC Birmingham, part of the NEC Group, has joined the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) and the Association of Festival Organisers (AFO), as part of its events diversification strategy.

Since the pandemic, the team at the NEC Campus, which has 387 acres of hard-standing ground and 59 acres of woodland, said it has had a greater focus on its festival offering within its outdoor and indoor space.

The NEC hosted Festival Republic’s Wireless Festival (pictured) outdoors in July 2022 over three days, with a capacity of 45,000. This was the first outdoor festival the venue had hosted since Slam Dunk (cap. 15,000) in 2014.

The NEC, Birmingham new business director Richard Mann said, “We work closely with many trade bodies across the live music and events industry, contributing to policies, key initiatives and lobbying activity. It is important that we listen to the wants and needs of more event genres as we diversify our offer.

“We’re a large site with big ambitions to bring a greater mix of events to the Midlands. As an established operator used to bringing hundreds of thousands of people onto the NEC Campus for a range of shows and arena events, we believe we can offer a strong proposition to festival organisers.”

The NEC Group also owns The Ticket Factory, which sells tickets for its shows across the NEC, Resorts World Arena and Utilita Arena Birmingham, alongside ticketing for other events and festivals across UK venues.

“We are in discussions with festival organisers about events for this year and beyond. Our audience database for the NEC and our arenas is comprehensive,” said Mann. “The challenge for us is bringing new events to the region which can revitalise the local festival and events landscape.”

AIF CEO John Rostron said NEC Birmingham is a major addition to the AIF membership: “Not only does it demonstrate creative thinking from NEC Group, it also points to the value of AIF as a resource to businesses connected to the festival industry, alongside the promoters themselves.

“We look forward to working closely with the NEC, carving new opportunities for both the venue and our festival members, and promoting the interests of the sector more broadly.”

The AFO general secretary Steve Heap said, “AFO’s credibility has built gradually since we formed in 1987, and we now have more than 150 grassroots festivals, many of whom move sites from year-to-year, that would welcome engagement with the venue. We look forward to working more closely with the NEC as the year progresses and beyond.”