AIF Launches Crowfunder To Give The Young Their First Festival Experience

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The audience at Rock Oyster 2022, one of many AIF members, who signed up for the First Festival Campaign. (Picture by Caitlin Mogridge)

One of the saddest aspects of roughly two years of lockdowns in Europe and the UK is the well-reported and much talked-about fact that an entire generations of adolescents got deprived of their first live event experiences during that time in their lives when there’s nothing better than meeting their peers outside in a field, listening to their favorite bands and getting their first taste of freedom.

To address this issue, the UK’s Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) has launched the First Festival campaign, a crowdfunder designed to raise money for tickets, which will go straight to those whose first festival experience is long-overdue.

While not completely free, the raised money will allow eligible 18-year-olds on the waiting list to buy a ticket for their chosen festival for just £18 ($22).

As AIF states, “the First Festival Campaign has been built on the belief that, upon turning 18, everyone should be able to access the pivotal cultural moment that festivals provide. But, in recent years, many have not had that opportunity.

“The Covid-19 pandemic saw most people who were turning 18 at the time miss out on their first festival experience due to lockdown. Even in 2022, lots of festivals rolled tickets over from 2019, meaning that hundreds of thousands of young people missed out on this key moment again.”

Add the high costs of living, which has placed festival tickets even further out of reach for many, the campaign couldn’t come at a better time.

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Nozstock: The Hidden Valley, a thoroughly family-friendly festival, is also part of the campaign.

Anyone in the UK who was/is 18 years of age between Sept. 1, 2019, and Aug. 31, 2023, can register interest in attending one of AIF’s member festivals via the First Festival website.

Festivals that have already signed up to the new AIF initiative include: 110 Above Presents: OTHR Festival; Above & Beyond Brighton Beach; Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival; BlueDot Festival; British Country Music Festival; Camp Wildfire Festival; Chase & Status Brighton Beach; Deva Fest; El Dorado; End of The Road Festival; Green Belt; Green Gathering; Kendal Calling; NASS Festival; Noisily; Nozstock: The Hidden Valley; PennFest; Readipop Festival; Rock Oyster; Shambala; Takedown Festival; UK Tech-Fest; Underneath The Stars Festival; Valley Fest; and We Out Here.

The crowdfunder is aimed at individuals and organizations, who are able to make donations the First Festival Campaign here. As Pollstar was told upon request, AIF has been briefing the UK government on the initiative, and is hoping it will contribute to the campaign.

“Tickets will be released as funding targets are met, with eligible 18-year-olds on the waiting list able to buy a ticket for their chosen festival for just £18,” according to AIF, which adds that it took inspiration from other European countries such as Germany, France, and Italy, “where those turning 18 are given a voucher by their government with a value of between €200 and €500 to be spent on cultural events and activities.”

AIF CEO John Rostron commented, “I was speaking to some students recently who are set to graduate this year, and it became apparent that none of them had ever attended a festival. It really hit me just what an impact Covid had on their lives. So we decided to do something about it. Everyone should have a first festival experience, and it should be a thrilling and vital part of every person’s journey into adulthood. So many of us have wonderful festival memories to share, and brilliant festival stories to tell. We’re hoping that there’ll be individuals and organisations who are able to spare some money to put into the fund to help people attend their first festivals this year.”

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