Conference for Festivals

Looking back at the 2022 Conference:

We loved seeing so many BAFA members, festivals, industry speakers and invited guests in the fantastic surroundings of Gloucester’s newly refurbished Guildhall from 22 – 23 November for the 2022 BAFA Conference for Festivals: The Place to Connect. Ticket buyers and BAFA members can log into the private webpage to download event resources, delegate lists and recordings from the event.

We discussed festivals’ contribution to place-making, and how festivals fit in the levelling up agenda; how research and data can support festivals in post-pandemic recovery; we had a special focus on governance and leadership, including a closed session for chairs and board members; and looking at what the future is for festivals. This is the programme (downloadable here):

Tuesday 22 November

1pm: Welcome

1.15pm – 2.30pm: This is the Place 
Speakers including Nick Green from Arts Council England, Ali Mawle from Cheltenham Festivals, Philip Walker from Gloucester City Council, Jack Whitewood from Ventnor Exchange and Nick Morgan from We are the Fairdiscuss the impact of the priority places and levelling up agendas, and how festivals contribute to place-making

2.30pm – 3pm: break

3pm – 3.15pm: provocation: How do you move away from Artistic Director-led programming if you’re an Artistic Director? Emma-Jane Benning, Co-Artistic Director and Halima Malek, Community Producer, Strike a Light

3.15pm – 4.15pm: How was it for you? What 2022 tells us about the future
We’ll be talking about the key themes and trends from this year, how festivals are adapting to meet these and what they tell us for the future, with speakers including James McVeigh from Festivals Edinburgh and David Brownlee from Data Culture Change, chaired by Alison Giles of Presteigne Festival

4.15pm: venue tour of Jolt/The Music Works and wine reception

7.30pm: optional evening meal at Cote, Quayside

Wednesday 23 November

9am: Registration and tea/coffee

9.30am: Welcome followed by creative provocation by Marc Yeats Drawing Music: start your day as a composer with this open, creative, expressive and surprising six-minute guided experience that unleashes your ability to instantly transform listening into a graphic score

9.40am – 10.40am: We need to talk: making the case for festivals
As BAFA launches its four year PhD on arts festivals at a time of crisis, our panel looks at the value of research and explores how festivals can use data to help festival recovery and development. Speakers include Naomi Taylor, BCU/Chiltern Arts, Jonathan Todd of BOP ConsultingFiona Goh of BAFA and chair Professor Nicholas Gebhardt, BCU

10.40am – 10.55am: break

10.55am – 11.05: Provocation by Mark Pemberton: That’s no way to run a business!

11.05am – 12.05pm: Failing Fast: Sonia Stevenson of Music Patron and Sarah Gee of Spitalfields Festival lead a session to help festivals navigate new ways of creative practice, including MPV solutions and agile working

12.05pm – 12.45pm: roundtables – breakout sessions to look at different topics including Research and data; New ticketing models; ; Introducing the European Festival Fund for Emerging Artists (EFFEA); Burnout and recoveryWorking with Composers – times of changes for contemporary music with chairs including Gert Naessens of European Festivals Association and Sonia Stevenson of Music Patron

12.45pm – 1.40pm: lunch

1.40pm – 1.45pm: Creative provocation by Supriya Nagarajan Sound & Silence: An interaction of silence and sound within a melody. Using South Indian vocals, Supriya embellishes and glides across notes to create moments of reflection and joy.

1.45pm – 2.30pm: Taking the lead: new takes on governance and leadership
Jonathan Mayes of Clore Leadership/Cultural Governance Alliance, Naomi Belshaw and Alexis Paterson of Three Choirs Festival discuss trends in governance and explore how festivals can refresh and revitalise their organisations 

2.30pm – 3.30pm: Breakouts: closed sessions for boards/chairs and executive – a chance for delegates to discuss issues in a safe, facilitated space under Chatham House rules 

3.30pm – 3.45pm: break

3.45pm – 4.45pm: Fast forward: future festivals – James McVeigh of Festivals Edinburgh chairs a panel presenting new developments in the sector, including Emma Whittle of Cheltenham Festivals’ VOICEBOXGert Naessens of European Festivals Association and Emma-Jane Benning and Halima Malek of Strike a Light

4.45pm – 5pm: close

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