Underneath The Stars Fest_Credit Bryan Ledgard

Organiser of Underneath the Stars reveals 2024 event will be festival's last outing

The organiser of Underneath the Stars festival has revealed that this year's festival, taking place from August 2-4, will be its last.

The festival, which celebrates its tenth anniversary in 2024, issued the following statement: "It is with heavy hearts that we announce this year’s festival will be our last for now and that we have decided to take a break on our festival journey. Worry not though, all is on track to ensure that 2024 will be our best yet and a fitting celebration of ten stellar years, join us if you are able!"

The three-day event takes place near Barnsley.

Emma Holling, festival director, said: “We never imagined that a wild idea conceived around our dining room table, overlooking the hills near Cawthorne, would blossom into the amazing festival it is today. When we started a decade ago, we were driven, as now, by passion and a sense of adventure. Now, we find ourselves in different places, both personally and professionally and operating in different times. We can’t believe this will be our tenth event - it is an amazing achievement and now our adventures are leading us in different directions.

“This decision, though difficult, feels right as we embrace these new chapters in our lives. Looking back, we are overwhelmed with pride and joy. From our humble beginnings to welcoming a beautiful, ever-growing audience, every moment has been a dream come true. The laughter, music, and unforgettable memories we’ve shared together have exceeded our wildest expectations. Those we have worked with and who have supported us, together with our incredible audience and volunteer team, have been the heart and soul of this festival. Your involvement, energy, love, and unwavering support turned our little dream into a phenomenal and award-winning success. Each year, you’ve brought magic, transforming our event into a celebration of community, creativity, and pure joy.

“We do know that the festival landscape is challenging at the moment and our hearts and minds are with all our festival friends and family. If you are thinking at all about supporting Underneath the Stars or any independent event or festival this year, now more than ever is the time to and we would urge you to do just that.”

Image: Bryan Ledgard


Jisc tender

Jisc: Build contractor

Budget: £150,000

Deadline: 12pm on July 22

Contact: procurement@jisc.ac.uk

Info: Jisc, a not-for-profit organisation, has issued a tender for contractor services for Digifest, taking place at ICC Birmingham's hall 3. Jisc requires the main hall to include a main stage, an exhibition area, stands and catering spaces and therefore, is in need of a build contractor.

For full details, click here.

 


Jisc tender

London Borough of Lewisham: Concession event

Budget: N/A

Deadline: July 3

Contact: arjun.mattathilanilan@lewisham.gov.uk

Info: The London Borough of Lewisham runs several events in Beckenham Place Park. It is looking to review its events programme and is inviting expressions of interest from new event providers. The council would like to hear from organisers of music festivals, wellness events, food festivals, winter attractions, cultural and sporting events.

For full details, click here.


David Tite, new manager of Yorkshire Agricultural Society

New manager at Yorkshire Agricultural Society, organiser of the Great Yorkshire Show

David Tite, CEO of the Driffield Agricultural Society, is to become the new society manager of the Yorkshire Agricultural Society, organiser of the four-day Great Yorkshire Show.

Tite will take over from the society's current manager Mark Stoddart, who is moving on to become the secretary of the Royal Cornwall Agricultural Association.

After this year’s Great Yorkshire Show, Tite will join CEO Allister Nixon and new show director Rachel Coates to ensure the Great Yorkshire Show remains a mainstay in the national events calendar. Tite will work closely with Nixon on new opportunities and initiatives to drive the organisation forward.

Tite has worked at the Driffield Showground for more than 30 years, after starting off clearing the site as a 13-year-old.

He said: “This is a fantastic next step for me and whilst I’m saddened to leave Driffield this was an opportunity not to be missed and I’m looking forward to joining a great team and working on the Great Yorkshire Show amongst the other events held on the showground.”

Nixon said: “Mark and David are hugely passionate about the agricultural show industry having both been past national chairs of the Association of Show and Agricultural Organisations. We thank Mark for his passion and commitment to the Yorkshire Agricultural Society and the Great Yorkshire Show over the last 20 years and we are delighted to welcome David with his wealth of show experience from another highly respected agricultural society.

“It is a testament to both Mark and David that they are deeply committed to delivering the Great Yorkshire Show (July 9 – 12) and the Driffield Show (July 17) before moving into their new roles.”

 


D-Day 80 UK MOD © Crown copyright 2024/Sgt Jimmy Wise/Sgt Cathy Sharples

Fitting tribute: Behind the scenes of the special commemorative events to mark D-Day 80

Experienced event professionals worked in collaboration to produce two special commemorative events on the eve of D-Day...

On June 5, D-Day veterans, Armed Forces personnel and special guests gathered at Southsea Common to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the Normandy Landings and pay tribute to the veterans of World War II. They were joined in Portsmouth by thousands of members of the public to hear powerful testimonies from military personnel and D-Day veterans as well as readings and performances from actresses Helen Mirren and Helen George.

On behalf of the Ministry of Defence, BBC Studios produced two ticketed commemorative outdoor events, enlisting the expertise of Chromatic’s Steve Nolan, who led on the event’s production, and a huge roster of event suppliers – including Star Live, SKYMAGIC, Qdos Event Hire and The Event Technology Group – to deliver the vital infrastructure needed.

D-Day UK MOD © Crown copyright 2024/Sgt Jimmy Wise/Sgt Cathy Sharples

EFFICIENT APPROACH

Star Live was contracted to create a large-scale intimate arena comprised of a main stage, 4,500 seats, a Royal box capable of holding 180 VVIPS, and various platforms for veterans and BBC camera crews. The arena was to be used for two events; a daytime event attended by members of the Royal family and political dignitaries and an evening event that paid a poignant tribute to those who fought in the war and lost their lives.

Star Live had a very short lead time so it relied on tried and tested tech and equipment to achieve the event’s look, feel and aims. “For projects such as this, typically show designers are the first to be hired,” explained Grahame Muir, chief executive officer of Star Live: “However, in this case, we designed the stage before the BBC tendered for designers, which was an unusual but efficient approach.

“The BBC went through the tender process to select designers, but given the predetermined stage structure, the focus was on how the design would look, rather than changing the fundamental physics of the structure. This was all predicated on the key factor that there would always be a substantial screen with the sea as the backdrop.”

CHALLENGES

Gavin Scott, project director at Star Live, led an on-site team, which installed more than 2,000 square metres of stage decking and support for more than 700 square metres of screen with none of it flown.

“Waterlogged ground conditions and the need to preserve the grass in the audience area for the TV coverage were just some of the challenges we faced,” Scott commented. “Unhelpful weather conditions for rigging, given the scale of the infrastructure, made things challenging.

“In addition to this, the original scenic facade was replaced with an LED screen, a late design decision that significantly increased the weight on the cantilever from approximately 4kg to 4 tonnes. The stage cantilever was a critical element to avoid any metalwork being visible in the camera's sightlines. This design change made things tricky (but not impossible!)”

TEAMWORK

Star Live worked with CT, providing the screen supplier with all the facilities to fix its screens into position and it worked with Black Out and Four Square, which clad the staging to make it look “spectacular”.

“On-site, it was all about cooperation between suppliers,” Scott continued. “Everyone worked together rather than independently.

“One of Star Live’s USPs is the ability to have a proper understanding of what all the other contractors need. We must have a deep understanding of what they need from us in terms of facilities and a safe working environment. For example, we provided staircase access and hand railed walkways to all video screen locations to allow the video crew to safely rig their screens without having to climb up scaffolding.

“This job was all about on-site collaboration.”

D-Day drone show UK MOD © Crown copyright 2024/Sgt Jimmy Wise/Sgt Cathy Sharples
Pictured: Illuminated drones form a Spitfire during a spectacular display over Southsea Common at the end of national 80th anniversary of D-Day event.

FOCUS AND RESPECT

The event highlighted the value of strong partnerships and showcased how technology used on major rock and roll shows is now deployed on ceremonial occasions. For example, SKYMAGIC, which has produced drone shows at Coachella and Wilderness, worked with the BBC and Star Live in 2023 on the King’s Coronation Concert. The use of drones was such a success that BBC Studios once again called on SKYMAGIC to produce a drone show for the commemorative evening event called Tribute to the Fallen. It featured 500 drones and was a poignant tribute televised on BBC One.

Muir concluded: “There was a great deal of respect for the occasion. The focus of any event is usually on the main performer. In this case, it was all about marking the occasion and had little to do with who was on stage.”

Images: UK MOD © Crown copyright 2024/Sgt Jimmy Wise/Sgt Cathy Sharples


Brighton Pride

Brighton and Hove City Council open survey on future of Brighton Pride

More than 900 people have so far shared their views on the future of Brighton and Hove Pride.

Brighton and Hove City Council is surveying residents, businesses and visitors on the Pride events in the area in 2025 and beyond.

In December 2023, the local authority consented for Brighton and Hove Pride CIC to deliver the three key Pride events for the next five years. As part of this agreement, the council said it would reach out to residents to gain an understanding of how the Pride weekend is perceived in the city.

The council wishes to support Brighton and Hove Pride to be as inclusive, accessible and successful as it can be while balancing the impact and benefits for residents, visitors and businesses in the city.

Therefore, it is asking people to take place in a short survey so that it can develop future Pride celebrations.

While the main questions are open for everyone to answer, residents who live close to the major ticketed events at Preston Park and Kemptown are being asked additional questions regarding proposed changes.

People have until June 30 to have their say.

 


Slam Dunk Ben Ray credit Eddy Maynard

Slam Dunk: Festival director Ben Ray on torrential rain and how teamwork made a "miracle" happen

Ben Ray, festival director of Slam Dunk, on torrential rain and traffic management plans and how incredible teamwork made a “miracle” happen...

It’s great to have a plan but until you test any plan, that’s all it ever is. A piece of paper with detailed instructions that you hope will resolve a problem should you face a particular scenario on-site.

Slam Dunk – the UK pop-punk, emo, metal, and alternative music festival held in Hatfield and Leeds – has always been lucky with the weather, until this year. The organising team has always had a wet weather plan but this May, that plan finally got fully tested.

“The event happened and customers went away happy but what customers didn't see or realise is what went on behind the scenes to achieve that,” explained Ben Ray, festival director. “Believe me, it was an absolute miracle.”

Ray is talking to StandOut just days after Slam Dunk has taken place. We had been together just six days earlier, sitting in crew catering, chatting over a drink as the operations and production team put the finishing touches to a sunny Hatfield site. But when we catch up, on the other side of two crazy days of music, joy, and mud, Ray is keen to acknowledge the site challenges that made life a little more difficult than he had hoped and praise the team for their hard work, steadfastness and tenacity.

Slam Dunk credit Soph Ditchfield

CONSTANTLY CHANGING PLANS

Slam Dunk is a large-scale 30,000-capacity festival that takes place in Hatfield on one day (May 25) before the entire production team jumps on a bus and travels overnight to do it all again the next day (May 26) in Leeds.

The Hatfield event – which benefited from a revised site layout, new traffic management measures, increased toilet provision and more traders and drinking water points – ran smoothly. Yet with fewer than 24 hours to go, Ray and his team knew they were not in for an easy ride in Leeds.

“There had been some rain earlier in the week on both sites,” continued Ray. “In Leeds, the site was in good condition and we didn’t think there were going to be any issues but on Saturday, we were made aware that the car parks were not looking good. They had not dried out as we had hoped and we were concerned.

“We started coming up with some plans but every time, we were given a different issue. The team came up with a solution and different scenarios were projected. Ultimately, it got to a point late on the Saturday, that we had to come up with different solutions for pick up and drop off, changing where we parked some people, and come up with different hard standing areas.”

Luke Fitzmaurice

A CLEAR PICTURE

At the 2023 event, the festival’s car parks came under scrutiny. This year, the organising team – led by Ray and LFX Events’ Luke Fitzmaurice, Slam Dunk’s event director – worked hard to rectify the issues experienced by customers in 2023.

Speaking from the Hatfield site, Fitzmaurice (pictured above) explained: “The challenge that we had in 2023 was the line-up attracted a significantly increased number of people. Some of them were not our usual Slam Dunk fans.

“The festival has always offered the ability to pay for parking on the door but because we had such a difference in our arrival profile – going from 10 per cent on the door to closer to 50 per cent – it meant that our plans for the number of vehicles we were expecting were out by about 30 per cent. We had planned to receive 4,500 cars and we got 6,500. It just took longer to get them in and longer to get them out than we'd planned so this year, we've introduced advance parking only, with no availability to pay on the day, giving us a very clear picture of who's arriving.”

GET A FEEL FOR SALES

Changes to the traffic management plan were not the only development at Slam Dunk 2024.

Fitzmaurice continued: “We’ve had a lot of site changes in terms of layout. We’ve redesigned the site so that we don’t have bar queues overlapping and we have worked with D&J, our catering provider, on that. Plus, we’ve massively increased the number of toilets on site, and that was a public pledge that we have fulfilled.”

He added: “We have also changed a couple of the stages, moving from a big top to a trailer stage, and changed our security provider in Hatfield to NDST.”

Ray stated that several site changes made this year were “cost driven” and there are several things on site that the team would not have done if the festival had sold out.

Ray explained: “The site [Hatfield] was designed for 30,000 people like we sold last year. One of the things that I didn't like about this year was that it was quite obvious from early sales that we weren't going to get to the 30,000 mark but still, we ploughed ahead with the design and the procurement for a 30,000-capacity site.

“Ultimately, we should have changed certain designs a lot earlier on. I have to take full responsibility because I was there going ‘Don't worry, we're going sell those tickets’ like every promoter does. But yeah, I should have made the call a lot earlier and asked people to wind back.

“We need to get some initial feel on sales before we go what are we designing? Are we designing a 20,000-capacity site or a 30,000-capacity site or anything in between?”

COMMS

Ray and the Slam Dunk team must get site infrastructure, facilities and operational movements spot on. Hardcore Slam Dunk fans come for the bands and the line-up and might grab something to eat and drink. Therefore, how they get to the site, exit the site and queue for essential amenities is vital.

In Hatfield, the new traffic management plans worked “like a dream”, cars flowed quickly both on the ingress and egress and customer feedback was ‘great”.

“It was a massive success,” Ray commented. “The annoying thing was that we didn't get to run that operation in Leeds and show people that we solved the traffic problems.

“On the Saturday night, in Hatfield, we knew we would have to change things [in Leeds] dramatically. But we didn’t want to issue any instructions to our customers the night before because we knew there was a good chance on Sunday morning, that we would have to change them again. We decided not to put out any comms on the Saturday, because we wanted to make sure when the comms went out, they were the final, definite plans.”

James Crute

DEBRIEFS AND TEAMWORK

The Slam Dunk team received some criticism for communicating the new parking plans on Sunday morning. Ray and Fitzmaurice closed some of the festival’s car parks in Leeds, refunded anyone who had purchased advance parking and laid on additional, and free shuttle buses. Slam Dunk also moved the festival’s pedestrian ingress route.

The rain continued throughout the day and some areas of the festival site did become a mud bath.

“We did get the site open and we did make the event happen because of the staff. It’s a big thank you to them and I want to give them the recognition they deserve,” said Ray.

“We’ve not been affected by that much rain before. It was a challenge but Luke Fitzmaurice, LFX Events, and his team really made the event happen.”

Fitzmaurice was assisted in Leeds by Timm Cleasby, operations manager, and Eddie Grant, health and safety officer while the Hatfield site featured the site management expertise of James Crute (pictured above) and Will Hodgson, safety consultant.

According to Ray, ultimately, there was a lot that couldn’t be helped. Now that the festival is over, the team will have a debrief and make better fallback plans for 2025 in case the site is waterlogged and the car parks become inoperable.

Ray concluded: "I cannot thank them [the teams] enough for their hard work and their determination. There were problems thrown at us and he [Luke] was coming up with solutions to those problems when they appeared. If Luke and the rest of them weren't as good as they were, the event probably wouldn’t have happened.”

Images: Eddy Maynard/ Soph Ditchfield/Alex Wilkinson

Suppliers list - Slam Dunk South, Hatfield Park, Hatfield

Site, production and event management: LFX Events
Security: NDST
Medical: Events Medical
Health and safety: LFX Safety
Traffic management: The Traffic Management Company
Staging: SRG
Trailer stages: Hire-A-Stage
Screens: AV Matrix
Lighting: Zig Zag Lighting
PA: SAS Audio
Crew and artist catering: Flying Trestles
Catering/concessions management: D&J
Bars: Futuresound Group
Portable buildings: Qdos Event Hire
Toilets: Fortis Hire
Big tops: A&J Big Tops and Carlinden
Marquees: Strawberry Marquees
Fencing: GAP Group
Event safety barrier: Arena Group
Accreditation: Eventree
Power: Flying Hire
Wi-Fi: Lets Tech
Water: H2O
Trackway: Sunbelt Rentals
Buggies: Enterprise Flex-E-Rent
Plant: Charles Wilson and Ardent Hire
PR: Gala PR
Suppliers list - Slam Dunk North, Temple Newsam, Leeds:
Site, production and event management: LFX Events
Security: Advantage Crowd Management and Titan Risk Management
Medical: Trinity Medical
Health and Safety: LFX Safety
Traffic Management: The Traffic Management Company
Staging: Acorn Event Structures
Trailer stages: 3D Productions
Screens: AV Matrix
Lighting: Zig Zag Lighting
PA: SAS Audio and 3D Productions
Crew & Artist Catering: Flying Trestles
Catering/concessions management: D&J
Bars: Futuresound Group
Portable buildings: W G Search
Toilets: UK Loos
Big tops: A&J Big Tops and Carlinden
Marquees: Nationwide Marquees
Fencing and event safety barrier: Arena Group
Accreditation: Eventree
Power: Innovation
Wi-Fi: Lets Tech
Water: H2O
Trackway: Sunbelt Rentals
Buggies: Enterprise Flex-E-Rent
Plant: Charles Wilson
PR: Gala PR

 

 


NPSA

Mitigation of Terrorist Threats at Venues during Ingress and Egress guidance published

The National Protective Security Authority (NPSA) has published new guidance to help security managers and crowd management professionals help keep people visiting venues and attending events safe.

Mitigation of Terrorist Threats at Venues during Ingress and Egress aims to provide advice to event professionals, who are responsible for keeping people safe during the ingress and egress phase of an event, or during venue operation.

Crowds can become targets of terrorist attacks, especially during events at popular venues. Entry and exit points are particularly vulnerable because the start and finish times of events are usually predictable, as are the locations in the vicinity of the venue where there will be increased crowds due to people entering and leaving.

The NPSA guidance provides pointers to help keep people safe and secure, from basic changes to the venue operation, through to more complex security-led design approaches.


Coventry University PhD student undertakes live music event safety study

A PhD researcher from Coventry University has embarked on a groundbreaking study that seeks to fill a significant gap in research within security and events and ultimately aims to make the live music industry a safer environment.

Several independent venues and festivals have signed up to take part in the research being undertaken by KT Sonnen, who has almost two decades of experience in the security sector. She hopes the new study will provide actionable insights for the live music industry.
Sonnen said: "The research is exciting for me but it's also exciting for the industry to have a crossover between what we're doing operationally and being able to provide the academic back-up as well. 

"Hopefully, we’ll be able to take some of the lessons learned from the results and translate that into actionable best practice to ensure the attendees and workers are feeling as safe as possible during events. It will also provide a time-stamped benchmark of where the events industry is as a whole right now and will give future research something to build on."

Sonnen's research asks are people at large music events as safe as they think they are and are these concerns consistent across genre, size and type of event? Additional questions look at the expectation of security measure deployment and whether security knowledge/experience is a significant factor.

Sonnen continued: "It's really nice to be able to contribute to the industry that I have worked in since 2007 as it has given me so much. I hope that the results I get will give an insight into not only how we can enhance safety measures, but how to improve attendee retention and improve employee satisfaction."

The study gatheres the opinions of workers (both security and non-security roles) as well as attendees, involve contacting attendees well in advance of the event and collecting ground-level data at the time, rather than relying on memory and/or police records.

Sonnen studies at the university’s Research Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations. She is also a member of the UK Crowd Management Association (UKCMA) and the Global Crowd Management Alliance (GCMA) and was an editor on the recently released "Safer Crowds Safer Venues: Good Practice for Crowd Management in UK Performance and Licensed Spaces".

The study welcomes a diverse range of music events that meet specific criteria, including being located in England, a capacity of 800 or more and a focus on music as the main attraction. Events of all genres, sizes and settings are encouraged to participate.

For more details or to arrange a conversation with Sonnen, email sonnenk@uni.coventry.ac.uk

Watch the introductory video to the study.


Lambeth Country Show

Four treated in hospital after funfair ride malfunctions at Lambeth Country Show

Four people were taken to hospital on Saturday (June 8) following a serious incident at Lambeth Country Show.

A man and a woman in their 40s, a man in his 50s and an 11-year-old girl were treated by local emergency services and then transferred to hospital after a fairground ride malfunctioned on Saturday evening.

Emergency services responded at around 6.20pm on Saturday after receiving information that a fairground ride failed at the 50th anniversary edition of Lambeth Country Show, held in Brockwell Park.

A spokesperson for Lambeth Council said: “The incident was report at around 6.20pm today (June 8) and emergency services were quickly on the scene to treat four people who were injured.

“Paramedics and on-site teams cordoned off the area and those who were injured have been taken to nearby hospitals for further treatment.

“The situation is being closely monitored. The area around the ride is secure and the funfair has been closed.

“A thorough investigation is being conducted to determine the cause of the malfunction.

“Additional safety inspections are being carried out on all rides and attractions at the show

“We thank the emergency services for their swift response and dedication. The safety and well-being of our visitors remain our top priority.”

Image: Wallflower Collective

 


Live at The Piece Hall

Live at The Piece Hall smashes box office records with more than 170,000 ticket sales

TK Maxx presents Live at The Piece Hall 2024 has smashed box office records with more than 170,000 tickets already sold for this summer’s shows.

The 34-night concert series at the historic Halifax venue now attracts more people than most of the UK’s biggest music festivals and is well on its way to a 200,000 sell-out.

Outside of events in London and the south coast, only Glastonbury and Liverpool’s Anfield stadium will welcome more gig goers to outdoor shows in England between June and August.

Series co-promoters The Piece Hall Trust and Cuffe and Taylor has confirmed this year’s sales had smashed the previous box office record of 125,000 tickets – set in 2023 – as the venue gears up to stage its biggest and most diverse summer series to date.

 Peter Taylor, co-founder of Cuffe and Taylor part of Live Nation, said: “TK Maxx presents Live at The Piece Hall continues to go from strength to strength and this summer is going to be simply sensational.

“To have already sold in excess of 170,000 tickets – smashing the previous box office record by almost 50,000 tickets – cements The Piece Hall’s growing reputation as one of the UK’s best outdoor venues, one that is loved equally by audiences and artists.

“The series has grown from half a dozen shows just a few years ago to 34 this year. With attendance figures set to eclipse virtually every concert series and major festival in the UK – and with a rich and diverse programme of shows – The Piece Hall is truly one hottest tickets of the summer.”

The series will again deliver a multi-million pound boost for the local economy with many thousands of concert goers coming to the shows from outside Yorkshire.

Nicky Chance-Thompson MBE DL, CEO of The Piece Hall Charitable Trust, said: “I can't wait to welcome so many iconic artists to our unique heritage site for the first time and welcome back some performers who loved it so much the first time they simply had to come and play here again!

“It's wonderful to see Calderdale so full of life, energy and excitement during the gigs.

“People are rightly incredibly proud of The Piece Hall and its growing reputation as a premiere music and events venue, not just nationally but internationally.”

The Piece Hall is a unique architectural and cultural wonder. Grade I listed, it originally opened in 1779 for the trading of ‘pieces’ of cloth produced by Yorkshire’s famous woollen mills and is the only remaining Georgian cloth hall in the world.

Cuffe and Taylor, which entered into a co-promoter partnership with The Piece Hall Trust in 2022, has extensive experience in staging major concerts across the UK.

This year, the Olivier Award-winning promoters will present almost 150 outdoor shows at venues and events including Lytham Festival, Scarborough Open Air Theatre, Cardiff Castle, Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod, Summer Sessions in Bedford, Chepstow, Derby, Plymouth and Southampton, and the Forest Live series of concerts in Staffordshire, North Yorkshire, Cheshire, Suffolk, Nottinghamshire and Gloucestershire.

For the first time, TK Maxx join The Piece Hall and Cuffe and Taylor as presenting partner underscoring TK Maxx's continued support of the arts and local communities.

 

 


CTS Eventim, Love Supreme, Vivendi

CTS Eventim completes €300m acquisition of Vivendi

CTS Eventim has revealed that its acquisition of Vivendi’s festival and international ticketing activities, including See Tickets, Love Supreme, Junction 2 and Kite Festival, is complete.

The total enterprise value of the transaction is approximately €300 million.

Vivendi’s ticketing and festival activities acquired by CTS Eventim collectively produced €137 million in revenues in 2023. The ticketing business generated roughly €105 million of that, with an earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortisation (EBITDA) of €26 million.

This transaction offers new development opportunities to Vivendi’s festival portfolio and See Tickets' international activities while ensuring maximum continuity for all their partners.

Vivendi's performance hall activities, including L'Olympia in Paris, as well as See Tickets France and Brive Festival, are not part of the agreement.

 


Edinburgh International Festival

New appointments at Edinburgh International Festival

Two new appointments have been made to the management team of the Edinburgh International Festival. Creative producer and former artistic director of the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland Nicolas Zekulin (pictured left) takes the role of head of music programme. Also, joining the festival’s team as head of artistic management is Paul Sharp, the former director of Licensing at Directors UK.

Since moving to the UK from Canada, Zekulin has worked across the Scottish arts landscape with organisations including the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Scottish Opera and the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. Most recently, Zekulin has been leading the award-winning chamber music collective Hebrides Ensemble as their general manager. From 2017 to 2021, Zekulin worked as the chief executive and artistic director of the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland.

Sharp joins the Edinburgh International Festival from Directors UK, where he represented the creative, economic and contractual interests of UK screen directors. Prior to this, Sharp worked with the Royal Opera House for a decade, most recently overseeing the delivery of more than 150 performances each year with The Royal Opera as its contracts manager.

This year the Edinburgh International Festival takes place from August 2-25 and is set to see more than 2,085 artists from over 42 countries around the world taking to stages across the city in August.

Sharp said: “I am delighted to be joining the Edinburgh International Festival and to work alongside the team in delivering and celebrating some of the world’s most exciting talent and artistic programming. I’m already so impressed by the festival’s ability to look inwards as well as outwards, putting its audience at the core of what it does, seeking deeper connections and remaining committed to an international outlook.”

Images: Nadine Boyd 2024 / Lucy Webb 2024


Splendour Festival

DHP Family's Splendour Festival set to return in five-year deal

Nottingham City Council’s Commissioning and Procurement Executive Committee is preparing to decide on the future of Splendour Festival.

On June 11, the committee will meet and discuss a five-year concession contract, which will see DHP Family deliver Splendour Festival at Wollaton Park from 2025 until 2029.

In January, DHP Family, the organiser of Splendour Festival, announced that the festival would take a break in 2024.

In May 2023, Nottingham City Council initiated a festival tender process for Wollaton Park, the location for the two-day event. However, the tender process encountered numerous delays. These delays meant there was not enough time to organise the festival. DHP Family was forced to announce its postponement.

Now, the council has revised the original contract to cover the period 2025-2029 and on June 11, the council is expected to rubber-stamp an agreement valued at £11,788,000.

Built into the contract specification is the need for Splendour Festival to deliver social value for the residents of Nottingham. DHP Family must programme local artists, use local suppliers (where possible) increase local employment and make Splendour a destination event.

The council has stated: "This is a popular attraction as part of Nottingham’s annual events and entertainment programme and has created positive recognition, economic and social benefit for the city. This would be lost or put at risk if these were discontinued. The cancellation of the event in 2024 has already seen a detrimental reputational impact on the city alongside a loss of income to the council."


Jisc tender

DCMS: Event management

Budget: Up to £105,000,000

Deadline: 12pm on July 5

Contact: dcms-emc-procurement@dcms.gov.uk

Info: Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) is looking to appoint a suitably experienced Event Management Company (EMC) to plan and deliver Major Royal Ceremonial Event(s) in London.

For full details, click here.


Askern Music Festival

Askern Music Festival forced to postpone following council's venue licence rejection

The organiser of Askern Music Festival has been forced to postpone the festival because its licence application has been denied by Doncaster Council.

Doncaster Council's licensing sub-committee would not issue the licence over public safety concerns. This has forced the organising team to move Askern Music Festival to June 2025 and find a new venue, The Eco Power Stadium.

Askern Music Festival was set to take place on July 13.

A statement read: "The decision to postpone comes after extensive work from the team to explore alternative venues within the area, all of which failed to meet the stringent safety requirements imposed by the council. Despite our team’s intensive efforts to keep the festival in Askern, we have outgrown the town and can no longer feasibly hold the event here.

"Our preparations for a return to Askern involved developing a comprehensive Event Safety Management plan, spanning 154 pages, with an additional road traffic management Plan. This work covered various aspects including event organisation, site and crowd management, and emergency response.

"We exhausted every possible avenue to address all aspects of safety, but unfortunately, our efforts fell short. The site’s limitations combined with the rigorous safety standards set by the council presented a challenge that was just too much for us to overcome."

The organising team is now collaborating with Club Doncaster to secure The Eco Power Stadium for June 7, 2025 with the main stage located on the pitch, and the surrounding areas of the stadium also being used for further performances and entertainment.

 


UCI Cycling World Championships

2023 UCI Cycling World Championships publishes sustainability report

The organiser of the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships has published a Sustainability Report, bringing together the various activities and impacts achieved by the inaugural event, which took place in Glasgow and across Scotland last year.

The 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships were committed to embedding sustainability into the organisation, collaborating with partners to create a greener and more sustainable future for both cycling events as well as for Scotland.

The report builds on the independent Ernst nad Young socio-economic impact evaluation report published in February 2024

Sustainability was a core objective in delivering an innovative, world-class event that would provide a model for the future. The Championship’s Sustainability Framework and its ten high-level commitments were put in place, outlining core values and guiding principles mapped against the pillars of People, Place and Planet in alignment with and to drive progress towards the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs).

The 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships also signed the United Nations Sport for Climate Action Framework and was one of the founding signatories of the UCI’s Climate Action Charter, further cementing its ambitions to reduce cycling’s environmental impacts.

As part of its commitment to sustainability, the event undertook a voluntary Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) assessment mapped against the UN SDGs and using the UCI’s new Sustainability Impact Tracker. The report showed the championships contributed to 14 out of 17 UN SDGs, demonstrating the wide range of sustainable activities undertaken, highlighting the commitment to a sustainable approach to event delivery.

The championships were also the first event to use the UCI’s Sustainability Impact Tracker to measure its carbon emissions, with the report showing the total carbon footprint of the event calculated as 61.1ktCO2e. Most of these emissions fall within Scope 3 “Other indirect emissions” with the biggest contributing factors being in the "travel" category. This benchmark data will benefit future combined UCI Cycling World Championships and other major sporting events in Scotland and the UK.

Other achievements highlighted in the report include:

  • 86 per cent of stakeholders felt the Championships were delivered in an environmentally responsible way.
  • Appointment of EDP (Event Delivery Partners) Sustainability Champions to implement and drive sustainability measures within each individual event.
  • Development of a ‘Good Food Charter’ and the establishment of the Event Delivery Partners Sustainability Champions network, with learning and best practice captured to provide a blueprint for future events.
  • The creation of a Sustainable Procurement Code, which provided a link across the Championship’s Hub and Spoke delivery model, raising awareness of the minimum standards expected to support sustainability, EDI (Equality, Diversity and Inclusion) and low carbon emissions ambitions.

The championships’ commitment to sustainability also included social responsibility, with the report highlighted:

  • 97 per cent of people who attended the event felt it was inclusive.
  • 93 per cent of spectators with a disability found the event to be accessible.
  • Over 90 per cent of attendance at events were non-ticketed, facilitating greater access to watch and take part.

The Sustainability Report, along with other reports produced by the 2023 UCI Cycling Worlds Championships, will provide a baseline and a blueprint for future events.

David Lappartient, UCI President, said: “Tackling climate change is one of the priorities of the UCI’s Agenda 2030, with one of our aims being to make our UCI World Championships carbon neutral or negative. To do this, we need a base to work from, and I am delighted that we have a solid Sustainability Report from the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships. The local organisers of last year’s inaugural UCI Cycling World Championships made great headway when it comes to sustainability and social responsibility, and I look forward to this momentum being continued at future UCI events.”

Paul Bush OBE, 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships chairman, said: “The 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships aimed to champion sustainability in the world of sport, and we are proud of the effort we have made to drive meaningful change.

“The Sustainability Report provides useful insight, learnings and recommendations that will help deliver sustainable events and encourage innovation in the future.

“Collaboration and partnership working were vital to achieving our sustainability objectives and I thank everyone, from our funding partners, event delivery partners and local authority hosts to the athletes and spectators, for all their help in delivering on our ambitions.”

The inaugural 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships brought together 13 individual UCI Cycling World Championships, welcoming more than 7,000 elite and amateur cyclists from 131 countries, with around 1 million spectators attending over the 11 days of the event.

Image: Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com


Beck Stevens event manager Big Church Festival

Behind the scenes: Big Church Festival's Becky Stevens on clear briefs and green hydrogen

Becky Stevens, event manager of Big Church Festival, talks about the importance of clear briefs, growing demands for accessible facilities, and powering a main stage with green hydrogen…

“My first year as event manager was horrendous,” says Becky Stevens, event manager of Big Church Festival. Stevens sits opposite StandOut with a brew. She is being brutally honest as we look out the window at some big black clouds and shelter from an impending downpour.

“This is my sixth event, working on Big Church,” she continues, chatting honestly, dressed head to toe in waterproof gear. “Before COVID, I was the festival’s safety manager when Big Church had about 10,000 attendees. When we came back from COVID, I came in as event manager and because we had postponed the event, we ended up with 35,000 people. Ticket sales spiked just before the event, we had planned for 28,000 but ended up with 35,000.

“The problem we also had, like everyone that year, was that we couldn’t find suppliers, and we’d lost people but people with historical knowledge.”

Stevens soon discovered that not every aspect of the event – what goes where and who does what – was well documented. She entrenched herself in her new role and quickly ensured that everyone had a clear job description, and a clear brief and knew exactly what they had to do and what was expected of them. Now, in her third year as the event manager, Stevens and the Big Church Festival team are reaping the benefits that come with adopting sound processes, and now that everyone knows their parameters, the organising team has the time and head space to make positive changes to the event management plan; for 2024 that includes more weather planning, enhanced accessibility facilities and the introduction of green hydrogen power.

“I think it’s important to look at where you can be more efficient and make sure you’re more resilient as an organisation,” Stevens adds. “The event is always more than just one person, and I want to make sure that if I get run over by a bus tomorrow, someone can step in and the plans are not in one person's head.”

Robbie Thomson and Becky Stevens

TEAM WORK

At Big Church Festival 2023, it rained and rained and rained. Much of the site was waterlogged but the festival team was lucky that the rain stopped before the gates opened and hot weather followed. During the build, it was soon obvious that some areas of the event site were not fit for purpose. Therefore, more resilient weather plans have been a focus for 2024.

Stevens explains: “We've worked a lot with the estate to look at drainage and grounds maintenance. We moved some things to higher ground so that it won't be so bad if it rains like it is now. And that's been a key thing.”

Stevens is joined on-site by Robbie Thomson, production manager (pictured above with Stevens), Georgia Bond, volunteer manager, Gemma Manvell, logistics manager, Ian Money, who is leading the safety team, and Mary Corfield, access manager. Together, they oversee the delivery and operations of Big Church Festival, the Christian music festival that takes place within the beautiful – but rather hilly – grounds of the Wiston Estate, West Sussex.

Stevens continues: “We’ve looked at accessibility this year. We’ve increased the accessibility team to meet a growing demand for our access facilities, including accessible showers and toilets.

“We also have a very big and hilly site, so there’s an access bus that takes people with mobility issues around the site because it can be difficult to get from A to B.”

But that’s not all. Big Church Festival has a mammoth team of volunteers who have all been briefed on accessibility. They understand how to respond to a customer if they are asked a question about accessibility facilities. It is not just the job of the access team to make customers with accessibility needs feel comfortable and welcome. It’s the job of everyone on site.

Alan Radband Pearce Hire and Alan Hobbs GeoPura

POWER TO THE PEOPLE

Over the last 12 months, the organising team has surveyed customers. The results have led to several event developments, including the movement of some children’s activities and the development of the festival’s main avenue area. Again, it’s not the only change. This year, sustainability is a big focus too. For example, everyone who has gone through the accreditation process has been asked about their mode of transport and mileage so that the event’s carbon footprint can be reduced. But what’s more, Big Church Festival has opted to use green hydrogen to power the main stage.

Pearce Hire, the event power specialist, and GeoPura, the renewable energy provider, are working together to power the main stage [20m x 44m] and surrounding services – including a bar area – entirely from hydrogen.

GeoPura's hydrogen-powered generators harness green hydrogen to deliver power – 750kW – with no emissions other than water. On-site, there are three huge hydrogen power units (HPU). Each HPU is comprised of a shipping container, fuel cell, cooling fans, battery storage and a whole heap of control panels that baffle StandOut’s tiny brain.

“They [the HPUs] have the most amazing and complex RAMs I've ever looked at,” comments Stevens, as she walks StandOut around the units alongside Alan Hobbs, field engineer and manager at GeoPura (pictured above, right), and Alan Radband (pictured above, left), team lead at Pearce Hire.

As we sample the tepid water that is produced by the unit, we soon realise that if you had enough of it, you could technically make your own gin, but that’s another story. The use of green hydrogen will help the festival to reduce its emissions [5.8 tonnes of CO2 we’re informed, post-festival] and it didn’t cost a great deal more than any standard traditional diesel generator solution.

Stevens continued: “Myself and Robbie were keen to improve sustainability on site. We have been looking at lots of different things that we can do. We were really pleased when we were approached by Pearce Hire and we were really happy to trial the units this year. Eventually, it would be fantastic if we could have all our areas powered by hydrogen.”

GeoPura Hydrogen Power Unit

BIG CHANGES

Stevens and the team have an eye on the future and hope to build on the sustainability initiatives that have been introduced this year. Already, the team are planning for 2025 with big changes on the horizon. The event is moving from May Bank Holiday to August Bank Holiday weekend in direct response to artist availability and the event will become a three-day event.

“Luckily, I have 15 months to plan it,” Stevens concludes, laughing. “It definitely keeps you on your toes this job and it would be boring if it was the same every year.”

SUPPLIERS LIST

Power – Pearce Hire and GeoPura

Marquees and structures – Brooks Marquees, ABC Marquees, Intents, A&J Big Tops, Marquee2Hire and Microspan

Staging – Star Live, Alistage and Bullet Stage

Health and safety – Hybred Events

Water – MTD

Accommodation – Bunkabin

Security – Vespasian

Toilets – GigLoo, Zoo Loos, and Mobiloo,

Sound, light and AV – MTS Live, Solotech, and ADI

Vehicles – OBH and Bradshaw Event Vehicles

Radios – DCRS

Portable buildings – Wernick Events

Event medical – Event Medic Services

 


YOUROPE

YOUROPE releases free-to-use diversity and inclusion toolset for festival sector

YOUROPE, the European Festival Association, has developed and released the 3F Diversity and Inclusion Toolset for the European festival sector.
The toolset is full of resources that can help festival organisers create more inclusive and diverse festivals – for the audience, artists and their own team. Resources include guides, tests, checklists, interviews, databases, other toolkits, roadmaps, reports, games and action plans. Most were created by different expert organisations all across Europe and sometimes even beyond. The toolset is public and free to use for any festival or cultural event.
The toolset comes as a PDF and an online version. In the PDF, each resource and story is introduced with a few key facts, a teaser of the contents, and a link. There, readers will find full texts explaining the tools and the good-practice examples in detail, as well as download links of the resources.
Chapters are dedicated to: Accessibility and Inclusion, Anti-Racism Work and Diversity, Gender and Sexual Equity, Consciousness and Responsibility, Allyship, and good-practice stories. Plus, there's a glossary and a Diversity Mission Statement that festivals are free to copy and adapt to their own event.
The toolset is the result of a collaboration of experts from the YOUROPE network, including Roskilde Festival (DK), Primavera Sound (ES), and Flow Festival (FI). They were supported by an advisory board of external experts from different countries and backgrounds. Their tasks were to check the team’s unconscious biases and to ensure that the texts are representative of the groups of people this toolset is dedicated to.
Katharina Weber, YOUROPE project management; contributor and editor of the Toolset, said: “When we talk to festival organisers about diversity at their events, we sometimes hear that they would like to do more, but they don’t know where to start. They’re afraid of doing something wrong, saying the wrong thing, and the potential backlash that might cause, so they don’t touch the topic.

"With this toolset, we give festival organisers a chance to fight this insecurity. It’s a place to start their diversity journey. Our project team did the research and assessed many resources on accessible, diverse, and equal events, so festival organisers don’t have to do it. On top, we hope to inspire them with our stories about good-practice examples from festivals that show how more diversity and inclusion can be achieved.”


Jisc tender

Home Office: Stand design and build

Budget: N/A

Deadline: 12pm on June 25

Contact: dawn.groves@homeoffice.gov.uk

Info: The Home Office has issued a tender notice as it requires stand design and build services for International Security Exhibition.

For full details, click here.


Sacha Lord on lessons learned, event freelancers and helping young people to enter our industry

Tales from the Dancefloor is the new book from Sacha Lord, co-founder of Parklife and The Warehouse Project. Here, he reveals his biggest lessons learned, why freelancers are more important than customers and how the events industry can help with his latest project, The Sacha Lord Foundation...

"I’ve been asked a couple of times to write a book, but it’s never felt right,” explains Sacha Lord, co-founder of Parklife and The Warehouse Project.

Lord is reflecting on life, as he promotes Tales from the Dancefloor, his new book. It’s a love letter to Manchester and a must-read for anyone looking to enter the events industry or recall the heady days of “Madchester”.

“This time, the stars aligned,” he continues. “When the book came out, it was 30 years since the first event I had ever done and when I was writing it, it was exactly 20 years since the first warehouse party I’d ever put on.”

Published exactly 30 years after Lord produced his first event at The Hacienda nightclub, the book is one of Lord’s latest projects. All proceeds from Tales from the Dancefloor will go to The Sacha Lord Foundation, launching this summer, a charity that will support young people from Greater Manchester, who like Lord, did not or could not go down the conventional education route. The foundation will support people who wish to carve out a career in the events or hospitality sector. A sector that Lord staunchly supports.

“I’ve spoken about this before but when I was at school and everybody was going off to university, I was going off to work in a clothes shop. At the age of 16, 17 and 18, I had real anxiety about what I was going to do with the rest of my life.

“This industry has allowed me to succeed, to the extent that I don’t have to worry about paying the mortgage or putting food on
the table or anything like that. So I’m at the stage now in my life where I can help kids in Greater Manchester between the ages of 18 and 25, who are in a similar position to me. I can get them into events and hospitality and that’s what the foundation is going to do,” Lord comments.

Sacha Lord

NO BARRIERS

Lord found writing the book a cathartic experience, an opportunity to get stuff off his chest and pour over memories with the book’s co-author Luke Bainbridge, who also wrote Shaun Ryder’s autobiography.

“I’ve kept most of the flyers and press cuttings over the years, so the book was easy to write,” Lord continues. “Luke and I would drag them all out and start to have conversations.

“But what did those early days teach me? I had two bits of luck in my life. The first one was being born in Manchester and the second one was being born in the year that I was because that coincided with when I was in the sixth form with Madchester and The Stone Roses, Happy Mondays, New Order, Factory Records and The Hacienda. But I think it taught me that every time you fail, just brush yourself down and just keep going again,” he says.

“If anyone reads the book, I think that they will learn that if somebody who failed school, failed his A Levels, can go on to co-found the biggest metropolitan festival in the UK, be night time economy advisor of Greater Manchester and now a Sunday Times bestseller, there are absolutely no barriers whatsoever to entering this sector.”

BIGGEST HIGH

Now a successful businessman, Lord is also night time economy adviser for Greater Manchester, chair of the Night Time Industries Association and chair of Wythenshawe F.C. In his role as Greater Manchester’s first-ever night time economy adviser, he works with Mayor Andy Burnham and the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, consulting on all issues relating to the night time economy and providing a voice for workers, operators and the industry at large.

“If I look back, I think the high for me has not been The Warehouse Project or Parklife,” he adds. “It was when we went into lockdown. Andy [Burnham] tasked me with entertaining people. It was tricky because we were in full lockdown, so I Googled a few things. Three days later, I came across something in Berlin called United We Stream. Basically, it was a techno club that was closed but streaming techno music acts every Friday and Saturday night. I found Andy and said: ‘Look, we can do this in Greater Manchester but
on steroids’. Over 10 weeks, we had David Guetta, Calvin Harris and Fatboy Slim play and they didn’t charge a penny. We asked everyone if they could afford it, to donate a pound or two and that money went to the freelancers that the Government forgot. We had 20.4 million viewers and raised £612,000 for freelancers. So that was probably my biggest high.”

Sacha Lord credit Greater Mancunians Project

ENGINE FORCE

As we chat, Lord will soon get the keys to Heaton Park and the Parklife build will begin. Engine No. 4 will deliver all on-
site infrastructure and a team of event freelancers will come together to deliver the live event on June 8 and 9.

According to Lord, freelancers are the “engine force of any festival”. Without freelancers, you don’t have a festival.

“They are probably more important than the customer,” Lord comments. “In fact, they are more important because there’d be nothing to go to without freelancers.”

Lord continues: “If people picked up the book, and our industry was still like it was in the 90s, it would definitely discourage people from entering the industry. But I think one thing that people in our industry and freelancers enjoy is work. We get a buzz off it and it’s far more exciting than a nine-to-five job, sitting behind a desk.”

SUPPORT

Lord is a huge supporter of the events and hospitality industry and says that the secret to success is having the right team around you. He wants the events industry to contact him and support The Sacha Lord Foundation so that young people can get a shot at a career in live events and festivals, and he wants the next Government [Labour, he says] to pledge that if COVID ever happened again, freelancers would get the same support as furloughed employees.

But what one track would get Lord on the dancefloor? “It’s changed for me actually, over the last few years. It probably would have been Voodoo Ray but now after the attack on Manchester Arena, I think the unofficial track for Manchester is Don’t Look Back in Anger. Now that would be the one that gets me on the dancefloor.”

 Images: Greater Mancunians Project/Darren Robinson Photography

 


The Loop drug testing

Home Office approves "life saving" licensed drug testing at festivals

Confiscated and surrendered drugs will be tested at music festivals this summer to identify toxic substances in circulation and help prevent drug-related overdoses.

A continuation of long-standing government policy, licences have been issued under strict conditions to drug testing organisations to operate at some festivals in the UK.

Confiscated or surrendered drugs will be tested on-site and public alerts will be cascaded to festivalgoers if extremely potent drugs are detected to protect the public as much as possible and help prevent drug-related harm.

Supporters say these warnings save lives and give medical teams a better idea of how to treat anyone who becomes seriously ill after taking drugs, as well as tracking the prevalence of emerging threats, such as synthetic opioids, so that police and health support services can take swift action to contain the problem should any be identified.

Licences are expected to be issued in the coming weeks and as in previous years, organisations wishing to deliver back-of-house drug testing must apply for a Home Office licence to operate.

The decision to continue providing licenses to allow festivals to undertake back-of-house drug testing has been described as "life-saving" by Sacha Lord (pictured), Manchester’s night time economy advisor.

The decision means major drug testing providers such as The Loop can now test drugs on-site at festivals.

Lord said: "Drug testing at festivals is undeniably critical, and I am extremely pleased that the Home Office has approved their ongoing use. There is no safe way to take drugs, and so testing quite literally saves lives, and can help uncover new and potentially lethal drugs which may be new to the market.

"I would like to thank the cross-party MPs who have supported this move, and those behind the scenes at the Home Office who have worked so hard to ensure we have these licenses in place ahead of this year's festival season."


Event freelancer Sarah Spurgeon

A Freelancer's Life: Sarah Spurgeon on autism, ADHD and advocating for yourself

Autism, ADHD and advocating for yourself. Sarah Spurgeon talks about her experiences as a disabled freelancer and why open discussions can make positive changes for everyone attending or working on an event...

I was a late bloomer to festivals but when I finally experienced the music, culture and energy they had to offer, it changed everything.I remember attending Outlook Festival in 2010, taking in the experience and realising I needed to work in events. I couldn’t let it go. I took the first opportunity I could, interning at The Warehouse Project and never looked back.

Fifteen years later, festivals still light a spark in me, and freelancing has been key to keeping that fire burning. My time as a festival operations and event manager has opened doors to different types of locations and events I could have only dreamed of when I started.

PROS AND CONS OF BEING A FREELANCER

When you work as a freelancer, you run a one-person show in charge of your own sales, marketing and networking. While
it offers a unique freedom, it can also be isolating, especially when starting out. At times, I found myself looking in from the outside, wondering how I could get in the room with the people giving out the work or not feeling confident enough to send that email that might lead to something new. Even now, I sometimes find myself still feeling like an outsider, but over time, I have built the confidence to send that email and put myself out there.

Despite its challenges, there is a magic to freelancing that makes it worth it! The autonomy and flexibility paired with the variation and creativity in events are second to none. Most importantly, I’m surrounded by people who want to make things better. From Boomtown to Balter Festival and my Greenpeace team, there’s a moment at each festival where I’ve looked around and am amazed by what I am part of.

FREELANCING, DISABILITY AND BREAKING IN
Freelancing is a lonely world, but being a disabled freelancer can often feel like being planets apart. I found that to be especially so returning from the pandemic – how do you get back in after being out so long? It was a challenge for everyone; however, for neurodiverse freelancers, there is the extra challenge of not always knowing how to engage or re-adapt to the industry pace.

I was diagnosed with Autism and ADHD during the pandemic, and while it helped me understand myself better, the barriers remained. I still felt vulnerable and could never fully shake off the fear of being demanding when asking for help or accommodations. And honestly? Advocating for yourself all the time is exhausting!

I have been in the events space for 15 years and still find it challenging; imagine what it is like for neurodiverse talent trying to break in. I see a lot of organisations that do want to be more accessible, but they do not always know how. There is a heavy focus on individual practice when it should be a team effort. Through education and creating a defined strategy for the whole industry, we can create spaces for neurodiverse people to safely and confidently network that will follow them into the workplace.

Freelancer Sarah Spurgeon

SAFEGUARDING, FREELANCING AND EVENTS
Being freelance and neurodivergent is hard, but being able to give back to the industry helps. At each event, I meet people with different lived experiences than mine, and learn about the barriers they face and the support they need. I take what I learn to the next event and, hopefully, use that insight to help make the experience better for someone else.

Some of the more common topics I hear are:

DOMESTIC ABUSE GUIDELINES

Everyone wants to do right by victims, but there is a stigma, and I think that shakes the confidence of organisers and teams when deciding on affirmative action. It is an area in which we do not have a universal approach. When left to the discretion of individual teams, there is always a risk of victims being put in vulnerable positions or leaving the event space completely. We need to do more as an industry to create environments where survivors feel safe.

CASUAL SEXISM IN EVENTS

While often not intentional, being repeatedly asked for the “actual boss” when leading a project weighs you down, no matter how experienced you are. For new talent and freelancers who already feel like outsiders, the invalidation creates extra barriers and highlights feelings of isolation. It is something we need to challenge as an industry.

MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS

A lot of young people do not know it is OK to be struggling; they see events go bust or projects not go as planned and feel they have to carry the stress. They do not reach out for help. It is a sure-fire road to burnout, especially when you add in factors such as general life stressors and loneliness.

Education, awareness, signposting and open discussion are key to making positive changes – and lasting change – for live event freelancers, in-house teams and attendees alike. We are an amazing and supportive industry, and we have already made
good progress, but we need to keep that momentum going.

FINDING YOUR TRIBE

What is the most important thing I can suggest to anyone considering freelance? Find your tribe and build support networks as early as you can. Whether that is in the form of dedicated networking groups or teams that make you feel safe and comfortable being yourself.

Sarah Spurgeon and Helen Moon

EVENTWELL

By the nature of roles that involve safeguarding, it can be heavy at times; you never know who will walk through the door and what story they may share. Some events are spent basking in the community feel, while others are spent on high alert. Both feelings follow you home and when you work freelance, those are the moments you feel isolated most.

I recently joined EventWell as a freelance event host, and what stood out was the amount of support from the team. When hosting a quiet room, my wellbeing and safety are treated with the same amount of care as attendees. The support doesn’t end when the event does; from calls on the way home, and decompression appointments to regular chat messages, there is always someone checking in. It makes hard days much easier, and I hope to see more event organisations integrate similar systems.

NETWORK OF WOMEN IN EVENTS (NOWIE)
If you want to find your tribe, I recommend joining an organisation like NOWIE! Breaking into and maintaining a client base in the events industry can be daunting for freelancers, but joining networking and mentorship groups opens doors to new connections, work opportunities and projects. Most importantly, being part of a community helps you create consistency and routines outside of freelancing, which goes a long way in maintaining your wellbeing.

NOWIE has been a huge support network for me. There is something uniquely empowering about being surrounded by women who want to uplift each other. In this space, I have been encouraged to feel comfortable with being myself and asking for help when I need it. Being a freelancer still has its challenges and bad days, but I do not have to face them alone.

WHAT’S NEXT?

2024 is the year of career progression! A lot has changed in the past 15 years, and I want to take this opportunity to figure out who I am, and where I fit into this new landscape and add new clients to my roster, which I have already made a start. Having recently passed the first exam towards my NEBOSH qualification, my goal is to complete my studies and continue developing my skills through training.

Staying connected with others in the industry is another big priority. Networking and mentorship programmes have been a big part of helping build confidence, support networks and an expanded client base. I want to keep building those relationships and be a part of empowering others.

Images: © Mads Pierce/Samantha Corocan


Towersey Festival

Towersey Festival to bow out after 60 years – 2024 festival will be the last

The organiser of Towersey Festival has revealed that this year's event will be its last. The independent music festival will bow out after its 60th anniversary this August.

Increasing financial and economic challenges have been cited by the organising team for this decision. The festival team say they can no longer run a sustainable festival.

Towersey was originally founded by Denis Manners MBE in 1965, five years before Glastonbury opened its gates.

Joe Heap and Mary Hodson, festival co-directors and two of Manners' grandchildren, now run the event. They said: “Firstly, we want you to know – Towersey 2024 will be one hell of a party! We are excited to bring you our best and most eclectic line-up of artists ever.

“However, it is with the heaviest of hearts that we also deliver this message. Like so many other independent and grassroots festivals, Towersey is facing the very sad prospect of ending after this year’s festival, our 60th year.

“We have worked incredibly hard over the last few years to try to bring Towersey back to financial stability. The pandemic wiped all our back up and changed the face of festivals across the industry. Coming back from this and the economic challenges we’ve all felt since then has been all but impossible. Without investment partnerships or a fundamental change to the character of the festival, we have concluded that we will have to bow out after this year.

“We are proud of what we’ve achieved with Towersey and the massive contributions we’ve made over the years to charities, local causes, tourism, and emerging artists. More importantly, we believe festivals like Towersey are crucial for creating better communities and societies and for finding hope and humanity in an otherwise challenging world.

“We will continue to fight, and endeavour to find a way of continuing to realise the hopes and dreams of our grandparents and founders, but it will not be through Towersey Festival anymore.”

Over the August bank holiday, the Towersey stage will be graced by an eclectic line-up to date including Billy Bragg, Seth Lakeman, The Staves, and Pokey Lafarge.

Held at the 5,000 capacity Claydon Estate in Buckingham (August 23-26 ), Towersey is packed with opportunities to learn, make, watch and be inspired, including 48 hours of Ceilidh, silent discos, comedy, and circus skills.