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Staffing Up for Music Festivals in 2022.

Andy Robertson

When the entire music festival sector was forced to close between May 2020 and mid 2021 many experienced professionals working in the industry found alternative employment. This may potentially hit the return of music festivals scheduled to run in 2022, what will be the impact on music festivals this year and are there any solutions. 


Working for any large-scale music festival is a desirable career and once somebody finds a festival they enjoy working on they have usually stayed in the role for a number of years. When music festivals get cancelled and these experienced staff were put on furlough or laid off many were forced to find alternative employment. Many found alternative employment that pays well with regular hours and more benefits making it more difficult to tempt them back to work in the festival sector. Indeed, a *survey by the National Outdoor Events Association (NOEA) predicts 83% of organisers think the staff shortage problem will continue throughout 2022.

Tempting Staff Back. 
Although trying to get experienced music festival staff back sounds straightforward there are now certain barriers that make this more challenging. Any alternative employment they found may be paying a higher salary and organisers are going to have to match or better any package they are on. Combine this with an overall shortage of experienced professionals the demand will outstrip supply for the foreseeable future. Other factors to consider are what terms organisers agreed with staff when they were laid off in 2020, if it was supportive and amicable then re-employment will be easier. Organisers are also going to have to introduce other benefits to attract people, whether its increased holiday allowances, flexible working or other tangible benefits.

Training New Staff.
Organisers can consider recruiting inexperienced staff but they may have to invest considerable time in getting them trained up on whatever aspect of the festival they will be working on. Other potential resources can be hired from the numerous schemes where fresh graduates have had practical festival experience as a key element to their course. It's worth exploring the numerous schemes in the UK that offer placements for less experienced staff. As well as finding staff for the current season this route can help to future proof the festival's staffing.

Short-Term Solutions. 
Where a music festival organisation is struggling to fill vacant positions for skilled and experienced staff, they can explore employing independent freelance contractors or looking at one of various agencies that specialise in organising music festivals. This will provide a short-term solution but can be an expensive option to pursue. Many festival organisers still prefer to have a full-time permanent core team to plan and run their festivals.

For festival organisers planning their events using a software management platform like Festival Pro gives them all the functionality they need manage every aspect of their event logistics. The guys who are responsible for this software have been in the front line of event management for many years and the features are built from that experience and are performance artists themselves. The Festival Pro platform is easy to use and has comprehensive features with specific modules for managing artists, contractors, venues/stages, vendors, volunteers, sponsors, guestlists, ticketing, cashless payments and contactless ordering. 

*Research carried out on behalf of the Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS).
Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

Andy Robertson
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