Weathering The Storm

After one of the most challenging summers ever for European festivals, when scores of events were canceled and countless others ran up substantial financial losses, this year’s UK Festival Conference will attempt to put the recent outdoor season under the microscope and analyse what went wrong.

One panel chaired by IQ editor Gordon Masson is called “The Festivals Emergency Board Meeting.” It will have key players in the live music industry discussing how – or if – the outdoor events business can prevent similar situations from arising in the future.

Stuart Galbraith and his Kilimanjaro Live colleague Zac Fox, who is on another panel headed “When Lightning Strikes,” will do well to get through the day without hearing someone point out that there’s not much that can be done about the vagaries of English weather.
Even that premise may be challenged during “The Power Behind Festivals,” a panel put together by Green Alliance, another organisation that believes we should all try to spew less carbon into the atmosphere.
Green Alliance has just undertaken a research project called Powerful Thinking, which has resulted in an industry tool kit for promoting energy efficiency and renewable power solutions. 
Green Alliance and research partner DeMontford University say the early signs suggest the project’s findings will be invaluable to promoters looking to innovate, reduce carbon, and even reduce fuel bills.
Those looking for more practical solutions than banning the kids in the moshpit from doing anything that even vaguely resembles a rain dance should try the “When Lightning Strikes” session, which will examine how to plan for the worst weather and limit the damage it does.
It will also look at managing onsite emergencies and evacuation procedures, dealing with artists whose appearances are affected as well as the inevitable PR, legal and contractual issues arising post-event.
However, not all of last year’s festival failures can be laid at the door of the English weather and other sessions will likely examine some of the reasons that things went horribly wrong.
“How To Capture And Retain An Audience,” chaired by Henry Erskine Crumb, co-founder of event marketing company Evently, will look at how filling up festival fields has become a much more complex and high-maintenance endeavour.
“Get it right and you can achieve the Holy Grail in building a festival brand that trades successfully on its own name before its lineup,” claims the pre-conference blurb.
If Erskine Crum has discovered The Grail, then he deserves to fill the room to capacity.
The UK Festival Conference and the UK Festival Awards are at London Roundhouse Dec. 3.