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AIF boss Paul Reed to step down

By | Published on Wednesday 24 August 2022

Paul Reed

Paul Reed has announced that he is stepping down as CEO of the UK’s Association Of Independent Festivals, after nine years with the trade body.

“Leading the AIF for nine years has been an incredible journey, and I’m proud to be leaving an organisation with a growing membership that has real influence on government and wider industry”, he says. “AIF has achieved some hugely impactful public campaigns and remains very visible and responsive to the needs of its members”.

Originally joining AIF as General Manager in 2013, Reed was promoted to CEO in 2018, overseeing its transition to becoming a standalone organisation, it having previously basically been a division of the Association Of Independent Music. Since then, AIF’s membership has grown from 40 to 95, and it now represents almost half of the UK festivals that have a 5000+ capacity.

Obviously, in more recent years, AIF and its membership faced some very specific challenges. Reed continues: “The organisation rose to the challenge of representing and supporting members throughout the devastating impacts of COVID. With the first full festival season since the pandemic drawing to a close, it feels like the right time for me to seek new challenges, and an opportune time for AIF to appoint new leadership”.

“Despite the challenges independent festivals continue to face, doing this job has been an enormous privilege and hugely enjoyable”, he concludes. “The contribution that AIF members make to the UK on an economic and cultural level is undeniable, not to mention the immeasurable impact festivals have on well-being and mental health. The sector will remain close to my heart, and I look forward to seeing AIF and its membership continue to thrive”.

The search is now on for a successor, with applications being accepted via the AIF website.

“These are going to be big boots to fill”, says Zac Fox, AIF board member and COO of Kilimanjaro Live. No pressure then. “Paul has done an incredible job for the AIF, raising the profile of independent festivals, and ensuring their voices were heard alongside the global corporations. His work during the pandemic was exemplary and its arguable that the survival of a number of festivals could be attributed entirely to what he achieved on their behalf. He’ll be very much missed by our entire industry, and I envy those who he’ll be fighting for next”.

Is that a hint at what Reed is going on to do next? More fighting? Well, all he’s saying is that he hopes “to share details of my next steps in the music industry soon”. He will actually leave his current post in November.

Reed’s departure from AIF is the latest in something of an exodus of UK music industry trade body CEOs. Both the BPI’s Geoff Taylor and AIM’s Paul Pacifico recently announced plans to leave their respective posts. Maybe they’re all just going to swap jobs.