The Festival Industry Needs More Skilled Professionals Than Ever Before

Teresa Moore is Head of Department at Buckinghamshire New University, in charge of the University’s Music and Event Programmes. She is also a founding member of the European sustainability group GO Europe, with a special interest in Sustainable Event Management. In addition to carrying out a series of festival surveys in the past few years looking at audience attitudes and behaviour in respect of environmental issues at music events, she has initiated the development of a series of conferences and short courses on Sustainable Event Management at Bucks New University. In this article she discusses the growing need for professionalism amongst promoters and staff in the festival industry.

In the past few years we have seen rapid developments in technological applications as well as new innovations and approaches to the festival concept which are transforming the way in which events are marketed, business is conducted, events are managed and audiences are engaged. It is not surprising then that the range of skills and knowledge needed by event staff and managers is also changing as this new era ushers itself in.

In the area of event technology – a term used broadly here – staff are needed with expertise in a range of functions in order to handle and develop the growing impact that technology has on every aspect of running an event. Vital skills to possess include knowledge of web design, social media know-how, and the ability to interpret the plethora of data now available to the event organiser. Which events their audiences attend, what they like and dislike or how and where they spend their money – this is just some of the information that is now available to the event organiser in increasing levels of detail. This data needs to be interpreted by those with expertise in the area so that the event continues to be in tune with its audience.

The rapid development, design and application of the technologies behind RFID and cashless payments are all relatively new areas playing a role in today’s events and need the requisite skills and knowledge in order for these technologies to be employed successfully.

More and more event organisers now recognise that they need staff with qualifications and expertise in environmental science and sustainable event management who can plan and manage the environmental impact of the event as the profile of the issue grows and audiences become more aware.

Increasing amounts of legislation and regulation are also having an impact on events and festivals which need help with IP issues including protecting their festival brands, and understanding the media rights associated with their events, artist contracts and riders, licensing laws and health & safety regulations to name but a few.

Focus on safety, crowd management and security has seen this sector move ahead of some other areas of event management by developing a professional framework for staff training in recognition of the need for managers who have sufficient training and education to handle the important and increasingly complex arrangements around the safety and enjoyment of audiences and staff working onsite.

It’s fair to say that the days of the amateur are over. Events and festivals are now recognised as big business, attracting millions of people every year and insurance costs have rocketed as a result.Even many small traditional events have woken up to the fact that if their event is to survive and thrive they need to professionalise every facet of their operation.