By Josephine Burns, chair, Without Walls

The final episode in this season’s The Bottom Line was on festivals. For those who don’t tune in to Radio 4, it’s a programme about business from all angles presented by Evan Davis (who’s rather good). The three guests represented distinct types – Bradford Literature Festival, the Bath Festivals, and the End of the Road.

So, what did we learn? That there’s been a massive increase in festivals of all kinds and across every landscape, there is a host of complicated and varying business models, and the high-risk factors, like the weather, are always looming.

But audiences love festivals! There’s good evidence that it’s how people want to spend their money and time. The way festivals ‘cluster’, experiences – watching and listening along with, eating, drinking, participating, learning etc.- offers a cocktail that stretches over time, place and generations too.

All eighteen Without Walls festivals are committed to new work and mostly free access – both risky. The festival sector manages risk and knows it’s integral to our work – there was good chat about that..

Towards the end, there was something that struck me and Evan – you must be mad to do this! Or rather possessed by a passionate commitment to artists and audiences, to weave magic through this shared experience which transcends the normal laws of business. How transgressional is that?! Respect and blessings to us all.

The Bottom Line – The Festival Business –