AIFFour members of the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) have taken to the stage at Live Experience Expo to present and discuss their roles as independent festival organisers and how they launched and developed their events.  Oliver Jones from the Deer Shed Festival chaired the panel, which comprised Will Brown (In the Woods), Lee Denny (LeeFest) and  Eleanor Mottram (Greenbelt Festival).

Opening the session, Will told the audience that it can be quite isolating when organising your own festival and that his involvement with the AIF has helped to open avenues of support that were previously unavailable.

Asking the panel what they found difficult when starting out, Will said that budgets were the main issue, and that costs seem to be going up steadily despite them not really increasing what they are putting on.

Lee Denny highlighted that when it comes to dealing with local councils, it is difficult to share best practices as every authority seems to handle it slightly differently. “It’s a subject that crops up regularly at AIF meetings and one that is always tough to tackle.  It can be really tough to maintain a ‘can-do’ attitude when you have a great idea and your first instinct is ‘why shouldn’t I do it?”

A major topic of discussion was the booking of artists, with independent festivals often suffering from the contractual clauses placed upon bands by bigger festival organisers.  Highlighting this, Lee gave a recent example of a band who were unable to headline his event due to their appearance at Lattitude the following week, despite being so low down on the bill that he was unable to read their name clearly on the Lattitude poster.

“I think it’s important for artists, agents and bigger events to put things in perspective.  There’s no way that having this band headlining at LeeFest would have impacted on ticket sales for Lattitude.  Equally, I’m not sure how good it is for the band to be playing so far down the bill at a big festival as opposed to the bigger exposure of headline a smaller one.”

Staffing is one of the big issues going forward according to Will, who was answering a question about relationships with contractors, whilst Lee said that he would value advice and support on issues relating to licenses and the red-tape aspects of his events.

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