The NEC joins festival associations to explore further opportunities

Featured image credit: Joey Thompson on Unsplash

The NEC has joined two festival organisations to continue its exploration of opportunities within the events industry. 

Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre (NEC) has joined the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) and the Association of Festival Organisers (AFO) to aid its events diversification strategy. 

The NEC Campus boasts 387 acres of hard-standing ground and 59 acres of woodland, and is adapting its offering following the COVID-19 pandemic to include festivals and events. 

In July last year, The NEC hosted Wireless Festival outdoors with promoter Festival Republic. The festival welcomed 45,000 ticket-holders a day over the three-day event with headliners including Dave, Cardi B and J. Cole. The NEC also hosted pop-punk, rock and alternative music festival Slam Dunk in 2018, which was headlined by rock band Good Charlotte. 

Richard Mann, new business director for the NEC, said: “We work closely with many trade bodies across the live music and events industry, contributing to policies, key initiatives and lobbying activity. It is important that we listen to the wants and needs of more event genres as we diversify our offer.

“We’re a large site with big ambitions to bring a greater mix of events to the Midlands. As an established operator used to bringing hundreds of thousands of people onto the NEC Campus for a range of shows and arena events, we believe we can offer a strong proposition to festival organisers.”

The NEC Group also owns ticket agency The Ticket Factory, which sells tickets for events across the NEC, Resorts World Arena and Utilita Arena Birmingham, alongside over events and festivals across UK venues.  

Mann added: “We are in discussions with festival organisers about events for this year and beyond. Our audience database for the NEC and our arenas is comprehensive. The challenge for us is bringing new events to the region which can revitalise the local festival and events landscape.”

John Rostron, chief executive for the AIF, said: “This is a big addition to the AIF membership. Not only does it demonstrate creative thinking from NEC Group, it also points to the value of AIF as a resource to businesses connected to the festival industry, alongside the promoters themselves.

“We look forward to working closely with the NEC, carving new opportunities for both the venue and our festival members, and promoting the interests of the sector more broadly.”

Steve Heap, general secretary of the AFO, added: “We are delighted that the NEC has joined us. AFO’s credibility has built gradually since we formed in 1987, and we now have more than 150 grassroots festivals, many of whom move sites from year-to-year, that would welcome engagement with the venue. We look forward to working more closely with the NEC as the year progresses and beyond.”