UK Parliamentary group formed to represent festivals

A new UK Parliamentary group focussed on the festivals sector has been backed by the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF).

The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) has been set up to represent independent festivals, looking at the unique value they bring and the pressures that they face. It will include conversations with the suppliers who work with the festival sector, and the landowners who support festivals across the UK.

During its first year, the APPG will look into various topics and issues the sector has faced in recent years. Initially, these topics will include environmental impacts and solutions and women’s safety as well as crime and drug use and touring visas for musicians.

The APPG will initially look into the challenges that the sector has faced over the summer, and reflect on any solutions that may help toward next year’s season.

John Rostron, chief executive of the AIF, said: “It’s been a very busy summer this year and I’ve met with a number of MPs as I’ve visited festivals across the UK. Whether they are attending and supporting festivals in their constituency, speaking at events, or enjoying festivals for fun, we’ve had some great conversations about the importance and vibrancy of the independent festival sector, as well as the challenges that festivals are currently facing.

“The Festivals APPG will enable us to carry these conversations into Westminster and enable dialogue between MPs and festivals all year round.”

Britain’s cultural offer

The cross-party APPG will be chaired by Conservative MP Giles Watling, who has a background in theatre and television. Other member MPs include Kevin Brennan, Alex Davies Jones, Pete Wishart, Damian Green, Karen Bradley and Mark Fletcher.

Secretariat services will be provided by political consultancy Pepper Shackleton Wellard, which will organise the APPG events, as well as co-ordinating with supporters and officers to ensure smooth running.

AIF is also in conversation with the British Arts Festivals Association (BAFA), the leading network and development agency for UK arts festivals and AFO (Association of Festival Organisers) to support the APPG.

Watling said: “I am delighted and honoured to be elected as chairman of the APPG for Festivals. Globally, Britain leads the way in celebrating humanity through festivals, as people come together to enjoy their passions. This APPG will be open to any and all forms of festival, from rock and pop to classical to literary. There are wellness festivals, food festivals, and so many more – it will be a privilege to represent all of them and highlight their importance to Britain’s cultural offer.”