An introductory blog to The Better Festival Group...
Before I dive into this blog, allow me to introduce myself. My name is Zena and I helped create the Love Not Riots campaign in 2006. The campaign was based around the message that we, as a festival community should enjoy our festival experiences all over the UK without risking the safety and enjoyment of others around us. We hoped to raise awareness of this campaign initially at Reading and Leeds. Following the trend to behave dangerously and go a little bit too crazy, so we dipped our toes into Reading and Leeds 2006 with merchandise promoting our campaign and its message.
Throughout its first 3 years, Love Not Riots made numerous appearances at various festivals including Download, Reading and Leeds. The first years of Love Not Riots were a real learning curve and the longer we were involved with festivals the more we were learning what could make each festival better, from the eyes of the fans we spoke to. We began to become more diverse in our activity and moved away from simply promoting a message through branded merchandise, and moved a little deeper into ways we could work towards getting the views from the fans to people in the right places, to bring about positive and beneficial changes to the events that we flock upon year after year.
We wanted to start to bridge the gap between organisers and fans, bring them together to ensure the real people that keep festivals alive, the attendees, were listened to by the festival decision makers. The first stage of diversifying the campaign came with the opportunity at our stand on site at festivals to have your say. We took comments, complaints and suggestions from during the event, compiled them and passed them onto relevant festival personnel.
For Reading and Leeds, we raised these points at a “fans forum”, which saw Melvin Benn, Festival Director in attendance at what was then Mean Fiddler (now Festival Republic). It was following on from this severely poorly attended fan forum, held in Oxford a couple of years ago, for Reading Festival, that we suggested that the set up of these opportunities for fans were more successful and organised. The hall was laid out for about 50. Only 3 people turned up.
We had compiled all our findings from the questionnaires at Reading and Leeds previously, which was just as well as this formed the agenda for the cosy but echo laden meeting. We then fed back the minutes to the Festival Community.
Shortly after that, we contacted Melvin Benn, with the idea of creating Focus Groups rather than Fan Forums, which would consist of a core group of people who were long term and passionate attendees of Reading and Leeds Festival, who would remain on the focus group on a long term permanent basis. This Focus Group would then form the bridge between organisers and attendees. So successful were the Focus Groups that they have continued for 4 years. Each Festival (Reading and Leeds) has its own focus group and they meet twice a year with Festival Bosses to discuss the event and ways in which is can be improved. So far the Focus Groups have brought around a lot of changes to Reading and Leeds, from arena layout to Over 18 wristbands, and every year we suggest more ways that Organisers can improve their event.
Now Love Not Riots was diversifying and providing successful ways to bring about positive change, our initial message did not encompass everything that we were working towards. In 2009, following weeks of careful planning and preparation Love Not Riots, was rebranded to The Better Festival Group and Love Not Riots became one of its long term campaigns. The re-brand was more successful than we had even hoped for and following some very positive meetings at the beginning of the year, The Better Festival Group secured working relationships with Reading, Leeds, Bloodstock and Sonisphere Festivals.
We also launched a new campaign to petition Number 10 to introduce a capping on tickets being resold, to reduce the number of tout websites, scams and very disappointed festival fans. We now offer a range of improvement services to event’s organisers as well as vast opportunities for festival fans to become a part of The Better Festival Group by way of volunteering to work at the events we are present at.
Reading and Leeds saw a Better Festival Group campaign stand on-site where you could have your say, make official complaints, read all about the Focus Groups and Festival Community as well as sign the Capping The Touts campaign petition.
Sonisphere and Bloodstock
Sonisphere provided us with a fabulous opportunity to bring almost 100 festival fan volunteers to its Hertfordshire debut, to work with the Front of House Manager in areas that were implemented to improve Customer Service throughout the event. The Better Festival Group provided volunteers to assist people in the campsites with things such as putting up tents and directing people who were lost. We manned Campsite Information Hubs, where people could go for help, directions, shelter, bin bags etc. In addition to this we were co-staffing the Main Information Tent in the Bohemia area, where we also provided the opportunity for fans to make comments, suggestions and complaints.
Stuart Galbraith, Festival Director, Kilimanjaro Live, also took advantage of the Focus Group service and introduced this group prior to the event. Sonisphere Focus Groups occur at least twice a year, and the festival community has their chance to put their thoughts on the agenda, which we then feedback.
Bloodstock contracted us to bring 48 volunteers to assist on site with manning of the disabled platform to ensure that everyone on the platform was safe and happy, to greet and direct people from the car park to the site entrance on arrival day, to man 3 Emergency Exits and to maintain the popular communal BBQ pits throughout the weekend. Bloodstock have already confirmed us back in 2010 with the possible addition of Campsite Information Hubs.
You can get involved, join the mailing list, sign the Tout Capping and Shaggy petition and much more at http://thebetterfestivalgroup.co.uk/
Future blogs will give you more insight into festival life and information on the latest campaigns we have.
Thanks for reading!
The Better Festival Group