Independent Festivals All-Party Parliamentary Group Launched

By Access All Areas - The Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) has set up an All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for independent festivals. The APPG will be chaired by Giles Watling, the Conservative MP for Clacton, who has been a longtime member of the cross-party Culture, Media and Sport Committee.

AIF said the 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.

Among the initial issues the APPG will explore are environmental impacts and solutions, women’s safety, crime and drug use, and touring visas for musicians. The APPG will first look into the challenges that the festival sector has faced this year, and reflect on any solutions that may help toward next year’s season.

The initial APPG members include chair Giles Watling MP (Conservative) and vice chairs Kevin Brennan MP (Labour), Alex Davies Jones MP (Labour), Pete Wishart MP (SNP), Rt Hon Damian Green MP (Conservative), Rt Hon Karen Bradley MP (Conservative), and Mark Fletcher MP (Conservative).

The APPG’s secretariat services will be provided by political consultancy Pepper Shackleton Wellard.

AIF said it is engaging with the British Arts Festivals Association and Association of Festival Organisers to gain their support for the APPG.

AIF CEO John Rostron 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.”

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.”