With over 170 delegates attending the annual AFO Conference the event was declared a great success in its 32nd year.
Held at Stratford Manor, Stratford upon Avon, 9-11 November, the Conference attracted festival organisers from all over the UK and of many styles and skills.
The agenda was packed with 26 subjects presented by 37 panellists and speakers, ranging from Site Planning to Security, from Economic Value of Festivals to Waste Management, from Marketing to a Beginners Guide.
The keynote session was focussed on “Sustainability” – (Green issues and saving the planet from further pollution), a subject dear to the hearts of most delegates. Festivals were invited to lead the way in their communities in raising the profile of these vital issues. Presentations were well received when A Greener Festival, Smart Power, RAW Foundation, 8th Plate and others delivered a hard -hitting message of hope for the future.
The Conference theme was ‘change’ and General Secretary of AFO, Steve Heap, opened with a message of ‘Embrace change but don’t lose sight of your values’. He encouraged delegates to have an eye on 21stC ideas, new audiences and, when the time comes, a succession plan.
This year’s AFO awards were given to Chris Johnson of Kambe Events for his heroic work in sustainability, and to Sarah Bird and Rowan Hoban of Wild Rumpus for their unique and imaginative work on festivals like Just So, Timber and Chester Zoo Lanterns.
Saturday evening saw delegates entertained by four acts in a showcase format, all looking for gigs on the festival scene. Then during tea and coffee breaks, Dan the Hat and Two Cows displayed street theatre shows for delegates enjoyment.
With 14 Trade and Supplier stands, the best networking opportunity for festival organisers this year and a warm feeling of camaraderie amongst those attending, the AFO Conference marks up another successful event.
“We will be at the AFO Conference every year as we learn so much”, Ian Pease, (National Trust).
“Thrilled, surprised and quite emotional with the AFO Award”, Sarah Bird and Rowan Hoban, (Wild Rumpus).
“A really relaxed and professional atmosphere”, Fiona Goh (BAFA)
Next year’s AFO Conference dates are 8-10 November 2019. Venue TBA