With the news mostly a bit bleak on the festival scene, The Association of Festival Organisers’ team decided to start early in promoting its member festivals for what is hoped to be a bumper season in 2021.
“The virus has certainly taken its toll in 2020” said Steve Heap Gen. Sec. of AFO, “with 87% of our member festivals cancelling and moving over to their 2021 dates”. The economic impact of that alone will be felt in the communities where the festivals are both a respected arts and major contributing factor.
The average size of an AFO festival is in the order of 3 – 5000 visitors so lost to the season is approx. 348,800 visits. From research conducted by EIF and others it is known that people spend around £320 per head at each festival.
With an average of approximately 3200 ticket holders visiting each festival in this AFO list the spend reaches a total of at least £111,616,000 of gross takings lost to the industry, the UK and local economies.
This is calculated at 4/05/2020 with several other festivals yet to declare their plans.
Steve, who is also Chairman of EIF (The Events Industry Forum), said “Of course there will be casualties both in festival terms and the enormous band of contractors and suppliers to this very busy seasonal industry. Government financial support in the main has not recognised the impact of a lost festival season on the communities in which they are held, nor the damage done to the charities which so many festivals support. This, quite apart from the livelihoods of mainly self-employed festival organisers and back up teams.”
However, survive to present their festivals another day they certainly will and to help promote those dates AFO has produced a members and friends festival list for 2021 (with one or two still hanging in there for 2020). This list, posted on the AFO website (festivalorganisers.org) will be updated as new information comes in.
For now, please support what is left of the current season and plan now by booking tickets for 2021. As a festival goer (you must be!) your support will be much appreciated as AFO festivals recover.
The Association of Festival Organisers (AFO) is a membership group of like-minded festival and event managers who believe in learning and teaching, sharing, and networking to continuously improve the festival scene. Created in 1987 with a small gathering of people working in the community festival business, AFO now has over 250 members who exchange ideas and support one another to help develop our sector.