Britain's indie music festivals form alliance

New group will be a division of trade body AIM

LONDON -- Britain's vibrant independent festivals business now has its own a trade association.

A new, not-for-profit organization, the Association of Independent Festivals, was unveiled Thursday at the annual general meeting of Britain's independent music companies trade body AIM, from which the new organization will operate as an autonomous division.

AIF is the creation of Rob Da Bank, who is promoter of the Bestival and Camp Bestival events, and the Radio 1 DJ's manager Ben Turner. AIM will lend support on a number of services, and its head Alison Wenham becomes chair of the new organization, which has its own board and structure.

Speaking at Thursday's assembly in London, Da Bank said the new trade body would empower the indie festival community with a collective strength, and establish a forum for the exchange of knowledge and ideas. AIF will enter into dialogue across music business and government, and will consult on factors affecting the business, such as ticket touts. Plans are in the works for collective marketing initiatives for its members.

Da Bank said AIF would appeal to "people of independent spirited festivals," but its selection criteria stipulates that the promoter can't own more than two festivals in the U.K.

"It's not an exclusive organization, its inclusive," he said. "It's for people who run a festival for the love, not the money." Of the estimated 450 festivals in the U.K., it would be relevant to about 435, he added.

Membership charges will be priced in pounds sterling, and will be based on an annual payment of 15% of the equivalent of a festival's licensed capacity from the previous year, meaning a boutique festival of 10,000 guests would pay 1,500 pounds ($2,900).

Wenham told the gathering, "AIF will represent independent British Festivals, another great example of indie culture at work, requiring imagination and hard work. The synergies are undoubtedly there and we hope to provide AIF with a supportive and experienced environment in which they can develop the collective platform for the U.K. independent festival industry."

The inaugural AIF board comprises representatives from the Big Chill, Womad, Beautiful Days, Bloom Festival, Secret Garden Party, Creamfields, Loud Sound, Electric Picnic, Glade, Summer Sundae Weekender and Field Day. Each year, the board will gather for 10 meetings, the first of which will take place at the end of July.

In future, AIF's membership will grow on the basis of invitations from its board members.