Indie festivals drive forward in spite of setbacks

The Association of Independent Festivals has reported a surge in ticket sales, despite the recent spate of event cancellations and postponements.

With three festivals selling out in record time and an additional four indie festivals, including Bestival, having sold out entirely, it would certainly appear that independent festivals are mounting something of a fight-back to the bleak forecast predicted by some. Furthermore, although it didn’t sell out this year, the Womad festival saw a sales increase of 30 per cent on its 2010 figures.

AIF co-founder Ben Turner, commented on the promising signs indicated by this surge in sales: “In what is clearly a troublesome year for the UK in general, it is incredible that so many of the independent festivals have sold out or had record years for ticket sales. I think it shows that people are finding warmth and inspiration from the more creative end of the festival sector.” He added: “The love being put in by our promoters is being sent back by consumers voting with their feet.”

Turner also noted that none of the AIF-affiliated festivals had been cancelled this year, of which there are some 33 that include Bestival, Secret Garden Party and Creamfields, each of which soled out completely.

The variety of offerings provided by the AIF-affiliated festivals was cited by Turner as one of the major factors in their success. He said: “People want line-ups that are not just 200 bands and DJs and we deliver a much broader experience. As artist fees rise there are other art forms that are as rewarding to consumers.”

Boutique festivals Kendal Calling and End of the Road also managed to sell out in record time. Ben Robinson, director of Kendal Calling, said the festival grew to 10,000 capacity within six years, following the addition of new stages and entertainment.

In order to assist indie festivals in the future, the AIF has developed a sliding-scale membership fee, allowing festivals to receive comprehensive support from the AIF for as little as £250. Turner added: “We want to support as many small events as possible because they are the next generation.”