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Access talked to Tom Paine, organiser of the festival Love Saves The Day, Bristol, about licensing, as part of our White Paper, produced with We Are The Fair and the NTIA…

Paine says: “It’s Glastonbury that really established the West of England as a location for music festivals. Talent settled in Bristol because of Glastonbury. Unlike the big corporations that do events, myself and others were festivalgoers who ended up in the festivals business, not leisure multinationals that one day decided to go into festivals.

“To their credit, the big guys tend to professionalise things, and have the clout to animate whole cities. They often let independents establish a new market before they take advantage of our groundwork. We’ve done that in Bristol city centre, where we’ve experimented with Simple Things, a festival with six day-time stages and five night-time ones – all of them just 10 minutes away from each other.

“In fact it’s urban outdoor events and metropolitan festivals that have really boomed for the past five years, especially as outdoor, campsite-based festivals have been saturated for a while now. We’ll probably see new kinds of events created to serve markets that aren’t being catered for: at the moment big technology companies, for instance, don’t quite know how to showcase themselves to the wider public. But if independents can say to widget-makers: ‘we’ll get you a Bjork for a music-meets-tech showcase,’ the proposition starts to look interesting.

“The UK licensing system is markedly less liberal than Europe’s. In village squares all over the continent you
can dance with old women till 5am. OK, so family and kinship structures aren’t quite the same in the UK.
But consistent and regularly updated guidelines on best practice and acceptability – particularly in relation to noise – could allow towns and cities to smooth processes and cool tempers.”

The Political Economy of Informal Events, 2030 was commissioned and published by Mash Media. Foreword by: Julian Agostini, (MD, Mash Media), Alan D Miller, (chairman, The Night Time Industries Association) Nick Morgan (CEO, We Are The Fair). It was written and edited by James Woudhuysen, visiting professor, forecasting & innovation, London South Bank University. (Advisory team: Tom Hall and Paul Colston).

The print version of report is available for £7.99, but it can be viewed for free online now.