Exhibition venue NEC Birmingham joins festival associations

Wireless 2023 - NEC Group hope that this is the first of many.

The NEC Birmingham, part of the NEC Group, has joined the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) and the Association of Festival Organisers (AFO) to explore new opportunities within its events diversification strategy.

The NEC Campus, which has 387 acres of hard-standing ground and 59 acres of woodland, has adapted its commercial approach post-pandemic to broaden its festival proposition for its outdoor space and within its interior offering.

The NEC hosted Wireless Festival outdoors in July 2022, with Festival Republic. The festival had a capacity of 45,000 ticketholders a day over the three-day event, with headliners including Dave, Cardi B and J. Cole. It also hosted a smaller festival, Slamdunk, in 2014, where Good Charlotte headlined a multi-artist line-up.

“We work closely with many trade bodies across the live music and events industry, contributing to policies, key initiatives and lobbying activity. It is important that we listen to the wants and needs of more event genres as we diversify our offer” said Richard Mann, New Business Director for the NEC.

“We’re a large site with big ambitions to bring a greater mix of events to the Midlands. As an established operator used to bringing hundreds of thousands of people onto the NEC Campus for a range of shows and arena events, we believe we can offer a strong proposition to festival organisers.”

The NEC Group also owns The Ticket Factory, a ticketing agency which sells tickets for its shows across the NEC, Resorts World Arena and Utilita Arena Birmingham, alongside ticketing for other events and festivals across UK venues.

“We are in discussions with festival organisers about events for this year and beyond. Our audience database for the NEC and our arenas is comprehensive,” added Mann. “The challenge for us is bringing new events to the region which can revitalise the local festival and events landscape.”

John Rostron, CEO for the AIF, said: “This is a big addition to the AIF membership. Not only does it demonstrate creative thinking from NEC Group, it also points to the value of AIF as a resource to businesses connected to the festival industry, alongside the promoters themselves.

“We look forward to working closely with the NEC, carving new opportunities for both the venue and our festival members, and promoting the interests of the sector more broadly.”

Steve Heap, General Secretary of the AFO, said: “We are delighted that the NEC has joined us.

“AFO’s credibility has built gradually since we formed in 1987, and we now have more than 150 grassroots festivals, many of whom move sites from year-to-year, that would welcome engagement with the venue. We look forward to working more closely with the NEC as the year progresses and beyond.”

Located in the enviable position at the heart of the UK road network, the NEC Campus is also connected to Birmingham International train station and Birmingham Airport. The Campus and airport boast 12 hotels and offer a wealth of eateries and leisure and entertainment facilities.