BAFA Conference 2021

Welcome to the 2021 BAFA conference for festivals: Rewind, Play, Forward

Here you will find more information about the conference programme, which is taking place online from Wednesday 24 – Friday 26 February 2021.  We’re really delighted that you can join us!  Just to remind you that your ticket enables you to participate live online but also to watch back any sessions post-conference.  All live and post-conference links will be on this page when they become available, after 22 February.  Up to 10 members of your organisation can join the live sessions per organisation ticket.

A list of attending delegates is available here.

Speakers’ biographies and photos are available here.

What can I expect?

Most panel sessions will be in Zoom Webinar format, which means that you won’t be able to see other delegates on screen – you’ll just see the session chair and speakers.  There will always be opportunities to raise any issues in the chat function, and if you’re struggling at any point to access a session, please call Alice, the BAFA Administrator on 07751 008456 and she’ll be able to help.

You’ll be able to ask questions using the Q&A function in Webinar, and to upvote a question to increase its popularity.  We’ll be monitoring the chat for any questions but where possible, please use the Q&A for anything you’d like us to ask the speakers. It would be really helpful if you can make sure that we see your name and organisation for any questions you ask, please – thanks!

The events will be using a live captioning facility to aid accessibility – as ever, this won’t capture everything 100% accurately but will hopefully help make the events more accessible.  You will have the option to see subtitling and the event transcript during the event, or have this switched off.

For more interactive sessions – for example, the workshops – these will be in Zoom Meeting format, which means you’ll be on screen and not muted, unless you choose to turn your camera off.

We’ll be using the platform as a space for delegates to chat informally at specified points in the programme, although the space will be open throughout the conference if you want to arrange to meet other delegates there during the three days.  You can access the page here.

Each session in the programme is marked with the format so that you know what to expect as you arrive, and we’ll talk through the key points of this at the beginning of each day too.

Wednesday 24th February

10am – 11am
Welcome! and Pandemic Purge
BAFA Director Fiona Goh and BAFA Chair Alexis Paterson welcome you to the Conference and encourage you to participate in a Pandemic Purge. We will encourage delegates to share the worst and best parts of 2020, using Mentimeter and the Zoom Webinar chat functions.  We’ll also hear a range of festivals describe their Year in 3 minutes, including Jack Whitewood (Ventnor Fringe and Exchange), Sharon Canavar (Harrogate International Festivals), Amanda MacLeod (St Andrews Voices) and Andrew Wood (Between the Trees)

11am – 11.15am: Pre-record: Libby Percival in conversation with Fiona Goh about Live From London – this will be streamed or you can watch in advance here

11.15am – 12.15pm
Artists, Streaming, Money 
Sonia Stevenson chairs a panel featuring Lyndsey Fineran (Cheltenham Literature Festival), Sholto Kynoch (Oxford Lieder Festival), Robert Hollingworth (Stour Music/I Fagiolini) and Paul Smith (Voces 8 Foundation/Live from London) about their experiences of working with artists to create digital festival content, how they have reached audiences and met the challenges of monetising online content.

12.15pm – 1pm: Break

1pm – 2pm
Keynote Speaker: Martin Green
Martin Green, Chief Creative Officer for Festival UK 2022 and the Birmingham Commonwealth Games and formerly Director and CEO of Hull City of Culture and Head of Ceremonies for London 2012, will talk to Jack Whitewood (Ventnor Fringe and Exchange) about the process and vision for Festival UK 2022, before taking Q&As

2pm – 3pm
Break or Social Hangout
Come and meet delegates informally at BAFA’s space, where we’ll have dedicated areas for festivals wanting to meet by artform or month, as well as open spaces for general chats

3pm – 4pm
Attitude is Everything – Opening Doors
Alison Giles (Presteigne Festival) introduces Gideon Feldman, of Attitude is Everything, to talk through the key concepts of ensuring your event is accessible for Deaf and disabled people and to answer your questions about how to make your festival more accessible.


3pm – 4pm
Workshop – Putting Content Online: Challenges & Solutions
What challenges do you see in creating and monetising digital content? This workshop invites members to discuss those challenges and ideate around potential solutions to them. Throughout the session, a map of all the discussed challenges and solutions will be created, and at the session’s end, a copy of this map will be given to each session participant.Leading this workshop is Drake Deaton, the founder of StageUp – a live-streaming website for performing arts communities. StageUp is based at a business incubator in South Wales called The Alacrity Foundation. Kenneth Richardson (Oundle International Festival) will chair.


3pm – 4pm
Insurance 1:1s
BAFA partners Nick Smith of Graham Sykes Insurance and Darren Vickery of EVS Insurance are available to book 1:1 slots with delegates.

4.30pm – 8pm: Break

8pm – 9pm
Pub Quiz 
You supply the pub, we supply the quiz!

Thursday 25th February

10am – 11am
Focus on Event Management 
Professor Jane Ali-Knight chairs a discussion about the challenges of delivering Covid-secure physical events, and sharing experiences of how to make this happen. Health & safety advisor and presenter Matthew Tosh, freelance event manager Natasha Russell and Wimbledon BookFest Director Fiona Razvi share their experiences

11am – 11.30am: Break

11.30am – 12.30pm
After the Interval
How and when will audiences return post-Covid? What’s important to them? What are different types of audiences looking for? What does this mean for festivals?  In a session chaired by Professor Jane Ali-Knight, Katy Raines of Indigo-Ltd will give an overview of the largest study of audience sentiment around Covid in the world – involving almost 300K audience responses and 600 cultural organisations. Her research has tracked audience sentiment from April 2020 and continues to do so every month – so she can give an up to date view on audience confidence levels and what are the most important safety issues for them.

12.30pm – 1.30pm: Break

1.30pm – 2.30pm
Extended Reality – Making the Future Real
Chaired by Erica Smith (Ports Fest), Dr Adrian Hull, Professor Trevor Keeble and Pippa Bostock from the University of Portsmouth discuss the work they are doing in extended reality, and what this could mean for the future of arts events

2.30pm – 3pm
Break or Social Hangout
Come and meet delegates informally at BAFA’s space, where we’ll have dedicated areas for festivals wanting to meet by artform or month, as well as open spaces for general chats

3pm – 3.30pm
Not a Crystal Ball, but a Hot Air Balloon
Introduced by Stewart Collins (Petworth and Henley Festivals), Brad Carlin from TRG Arts discusses 5 things we should be elevating for 2021: 
Relevance: what is your ‘Just Cause’, how will you be relevant to your audiences and community in 2021, how will CREATIVITY take the lead?
Relationships: With whom will you gather? What is your promise to them, and how will you (re)engage them in 2021?
Digital shadows: digitally delivered programming’s potential upsides have always been there and they’re not going away. But the economics and audience behaviours are different than our conventional programmes.
Welcome Mats: How will we welcome audiences back? What will they expect and how will we respond?
Smaller is better than gone: Silos are so 2019 and what will we STOP doing to make space for succeeding with likely smaller resources?

3.30pm – 3.45pm: Break

3.45pm – 4.45pm
Creating a To-Don’t List
Brad Carlin of TRG Arts will lead participants through a process of ‘creative destruction’ to essentially develop ‘to-don’t’ lists for achieving their top goals in 2021. Chaired by Stewart Collins.
[Limited spaces – Zoom meeting]


3.45pm – 4.45pm
The B Word
Join Mark Pemberton, Director of the Association of British Orchestras, in conversation with Alexis Paterson, Three Choirs Festival as they discuss what Brexit means for festivals and the arts, and what resources are available to help festivals navigate the post-Brexit world.

Friday 26th February

10am – 11am
Re-Framing Place
Adrian Turpin (Wigtown Book Festival), Manon Rees O’Brien (Tafwyl Festival), Hugo Mintz (Edinburgh International Festival) and Teresa Grøtan (Bergen International Literature Festival/Literature Live around the World) will discuss with Lyndsey Fineran (Cheltenham Literature Festival) how their festivals have re-imagined and re-engaged with their sense of place and their communities during the pandemic

11am – 11.30am: Break

11.30am – 1pm
Choice of breakout sessions:

11.30am – 12.30pm
Focus on Wales
Carys Wynne-Morgan and Suzanne Griffiths-Rees of Arts Council Wales will be talking about Arts Council of Wales’s priorities as we move forward, as well as the Cultural Contract that’s being developed with the sector and Welsh Government. There will be time during the session for reflection on 2020 and a look at the lessons we can learn for the future from a Welsh perspective. Session chaired by Alison Giles (Presteigne Festival) [Zoom meeting]


11.30am – 12.30pm
Focus on Scotland 
Laura Mackenzie-Stuart (Creative Scotland) and James Waters (Lammermuir Festival) discuss the festival climate in Scotland and priorities going forward [Zoom meeting]


12.15pm – 1pm
Focus on England
Tiina Hill from Arts Council England’s Digital Culture Network will talk about digital innovation and inclusion in the context of ACE’s 10 year strategy, and how ACE has supported festivals. She will introduce the DCN support offer, and will be joined by DCN tech champion Dean Shaw, who will cover planning for content creation and how to make engaging content. Session chaired by Ashley Morris (Newbury Spring Festival) [Zoom meeting]

1pm – 2pm: Break

2pm – 3pm
Emily Jones (Sage Gateshead), Sarah Blowers (Strike a Light), beatboxer and artist Conrad Murray, and curator and artist Nii Ayikwei Parkes (Brighton Festival) join Lyndsey Fineran (Cheltenham Literature Festival) to talk about what future festivals might look like as part of the post-pandemic reset and reconfiguration of arts and culture

Closing Remarks