Music festival success story
Lynn Wyatt-Buchan from Kingham Primary School
Association in Oxfordshire was instrumental in setting up a music
festival as a fundraising event, making a profit of around £8,000 a
year (and having a lot of fun in the process!). Since it's launch
in 2005 it has gone from strength-to-strength.
In fact they have merged with 'Harvest', the new festival
organised by Blur's bassist Alex James, who is hosting a 4-day
event on his Oxfordshire estate. We asked Lynn how PTAs can go
about setting up their own music festivals…
How far in advance should you start planning/marketing the
Depends on how brave you are. We used to began preparations in
the January, but then we moved to starting straight after the last
festival had finished! It can be done with concentrated effort in
Is there a particular day, date, time that you found worked
We checked the diaries of local villages so not to clash with
any of their events (if at all possible to avoid). We also looked
at the bigger festivals calendar and tried to avoid them wherever
possible. Our village is located next to a private school so we
tried to avoid end of term of exam time. Early June and July were
the most useable dates for us.
How many PTA committee members and how much time does it take
to organise a music festival from scratch?
We had a key team of 5 people. 2 were particularly hands on with
all pre-event preparation and co-ordination. The other 3 organised
big bands and music performers. On the day the same 2
co-ordinated the 20plus volunteers while the other 3 took care of
all techie organisation. The main PTA members helped to fill rota
slots and organise specific tasks set by the 2 key team
Where do you source the acts and do you pay them (if so how
much), do you supply their refreshments?
Acts are sourced in a number of ways. Our techie team members
work in the music industry and have contacts and know where to
look. Bigger names can be contacted through their myspace pages
etc. Smaller more local bands were contacted by building
relationships with venue owners where they had performed
previously. A more personal relationship was then built and we now
have direct lines of contact with our favourite bands.
Headlining acts performed for greatly reduced fees in support of
the charitable aspect of the festival. One headline act asked that
a small donation be made to a nominated charity personal to them.
Smaller acts have accepted travel reimbursement as their fee.
Where accommodation has been required we have developed a
relationship with a large hotel who offer a heavily discounted room
rate for us which enables us to offer this as a perk for performing
and costs us very little.
We do provide food and it can either be in the form of
redeemable vouchers where a performer can get refreshments from a
PTA organised stall or we provide a bag of goodies that have been
paid for through vouchers from local supermarkets. We write to
supermarkets in advance and ask for this kind of support.
Are the acts all local musicians, or were some made up from
children at school?
Our festival has a strong 'young talent' ethos so we look to
include as many local bands as possible. We do have a larger name
headlining but also have up and coming talent from the Oxfordshire
circuit; Battle of the Bands competition which all schools in local
area are invited to put forward bands for and we work closely with
a local Rock School that has a stage for very young talent and
children who just want to have a go.
What hardware do you need - staging, lighting, amps etc.? How
did you source this (hire or buy)?
Stages and sound techie equipment is sourced through a local
provider who we have worked with since the festival began. We are
fortunate to have 3 music people in our team who always know
someone who can. Other items such as fencing, fire extinguishers,
site lighting, etc. is donated for use at the event by a local
builder's supplier. We pay for the stage and sound equipment and
preferable rates through negotiation and relationship development.
We also offer as much marketing as they would like us to give as a
What legal requirements do you need to meet (licences
For the early events we applied for a Temporary Event Notice
from our local authority; this was needed because we had live music
which is regarded as regulated entertainment. As the festival grew
in size we were legally required to obtain a Premises License, as
more than 499 people would be attending. Our local authority
provided excellent information on the various licences that a PTA
might need, especially when an event features live or recorded
music and the provision of alcohol.
The festival take place about 200 metres from our village pub
and restaurant where the landlady is extremely helpful and
supportive of the PTA activities. We always contact the local
police, have a risk assessment and assessor; we have a PRS license
for a nominal fee because the event is charitable. We have marshals
on site (volunteers who have a relevant background - ex-police
officer for example). We needed public liability insurance and we
ensured that all third party sub-contractors and hired-in equipment
(whether this was charged for or donated to the event), came with
its own public liability cover.
Any other considerations - parking, toilets, noise effect on
Parking needs careful consideration especially because we are
based in a very small rural village. We work with the Parish
Council and have allocated parking on the village football pitch
(another reason for June/July date - end of the football season).
We work hard with the villagers who ensure that they are affected
as little as possible and we have never had a complaint about noise
etc. We hire toilets in at a favourable rate from a recommended
supplier (through the builder's merchants)
How much do you charge for tickets?
This is always a difficult decision to make because, yes we are
looking to raise money, but we are also asking parents of school
children to buy tickets. We ensure that children U12 go free
because it is a family festival and it to raise money for them. We
offer a discounted early bird rate for parents and families in
advance of wider ticket sales. There is then an increase for
those that come from outside the area or buy late. Last year and
early bird family ticket was £25 while in advance (for all) was £20
per adult and £25 on the gate. Concessionary for teens, OAP's and
students was £5. Teaching staff from the school went free.
Organisers and helpers paid early bird prices.
Is there an age restriction on children attending?
No, everyone is welcome!
What refreshments/stands do you have and do you charge for the
pitch or take a profit share of sales?
We organised as many of the stalls as possible. We have had some
outside providers who donated approx. 50% of profit. Some donated
100% after paying staff costs out of goodwill.
Do you have any other advice?
Have a plan and work through it. There is always a plan B option
and a way through all challenges. Have key individuals to
co-ordinate and make sure tasks are done and ticked off as they are
completed. Work closely with the school, parish and local people as
much as possible and HAVE FUN… it will come together on the
Lynn has kindly provided the checklist she used to help organise
the Kingham School music festival - click here to download the PDF
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