Step-by-step: music festival
Music festivals on the school field are becoming an
increasingly popular PTA fundraiser - we can see why!
- Agree use of the school grounds/facilities with the Head
teacher and check any stipulations. Form a committee and agree a
date (allowing at least four to six months) and a budget, draw up a
diary of subsequent meetings and a rota of volunteer
responsibilities. These might include: securing acts, organising
food and refreshments, managing health and safety, obtaining
licences, securing sponsorship, hiring equipment, etc. Check your
PTA and school insurance policies.
- Research local bands. Use social media to find contact details
for bigger bands, and ask local venues to put you in touch with
smaller acts. Ask parents whether they're part of a band and would
like to perform. Similarly nearby secondary schools may have
students keen to attend. Agree terms when booking your acts, such
happens in the event of poor weather.
- A Premises Licence is required for live amplified music with an
audience of 500 or more - contact your local licensing officer as
early as possible, allowing at least two months. The cost
depends on the non-domestic rateable value (NDRR) of your
venue (go to 2010.voa.gov.uk). Fees are on a sliding scale
from £100 to £635. An annual fee also applies (between £70-£350). A
condition of obtaining a Premises Licence is that a newspaper
advert be placed - budget around £250 for this. Suitable PPL and
PRS for Music licences are also required - see our guide to music
- Hire any equipment you need such as marquees, lighting,
generators, staging, PA system, etc. If you're using external
caterers, get quotes and start booking. Ask to see copies of public
liability cover from any external contractors.
- Create a floorplan. Music festivals feature multiple areas,
which makes a school the perfect venue. How about one stage in the
main hall with another outdoors? Have a dedicated pathway between
them with plenty of fundraising stalls en route; guests will be
with you for a while, so provide plenty of refreshments and things
to amuse all ages, making sure you have the equipment you need and
enough people to run them safely. Prepare a risk assessment.
- Draw up a rota of volunteers and start to fill in
time slots. It's always good to have some extra people on standby.
The sort of roles you might need to fill include: set up/take down,
cooking and serving food, serving on the bar, running stalls, gate
security, first aiders. Finalise your schedule and let attendees
know what sort of stalls and entertainment to expect.
- Order catering supplies if you are doing your own cooking. If
you have lots of infrastructure like marquees and staging then
stagger the build so that it's not all happening last minute. A few
people may need to camp on site the night before the event to keep
an eye on equipment. Confirm details with any external suppliers,
contractors, performers, etc, making sure that they know where and
when they are expected. Depending on the scale of your event, you
may want to inform the local police and fire service, giving them a
contact number in case of any queries.
- Check that the site and all equipment is safe and that you're
ready to allow people in. If necessary revise your planned
activities based on the weather. Have some large noticeboards
detailing the schedule of activities and entertainment if
appropriate. Organise your cash floats.
Tips and advice for running a music festival
- Wet weather: What will you do if it rains? Can
you move the event indoors or can you provide sufficient cover?
When selling space to stallholders, selling tickets or booking
bands, make your wet weather policy clear. If you plan to go ahead
outdoors whatever the weather, then use wording along the lines of,
'The festival goes ahead no matter what the weather, so come
prepared with rain or sun protection. There will be no refunds made
in the event of inclement weather.' Read our tips for wet
weather contingency plans.
- Boost profits: Compile a programme and sell
advertising space to increase revenue. Seek sponsorship from local
businesses that would benefit from the diverse audience a music
festival attracts. Charge a pitch fee to outside providers (they
will need their own public liability insurance). Offer side stalls
including face painting, temporary tattoos, and a tuck shop.
- Food: Depending on the number of people
attending your event (and the number of volunteers you have at your
disposal), you may decide to run your own food stalls, BBQ and bar.
Think about the length of time people will be there for - inviting
external catering companies in for a pitch fee may be easier, if
not as profitable. Read our guide to catering at
- Safety and security: Carry out a risk
assessment. Consider how stewards will communicate with one
another, and appoint first aiders. Think about any parking issues
that may arise and write to local residents to inform them about
the potential noise.
- Tickets: How much you charge involves
balancing your need to raise money with how much the everyday
family can afford. Offer promotions such as under eights go free
and early bird discounts. As a reference, one PTA charged £25 for
an early bird family ticket before escalating to the full price of
£20 per adult on the gate.
- Marketing: Put up posters in local shops,
supermarkets, GP surgeries, etc. (editable posters are available at
ptaprintshop.co.uk). Display roadside banners a
few weeks before the event - contact your local authority to seek
permissions. Prepare a media release and issue this to local papers
and radio stations.
print-friendly PDF version of our step-by-step guide to running a
Music festival success story
Natalie Hughes, Chair of Friends of Juniper Hill School,
Flackwell Heath, Bucks (421 pupils): 'Our second year of
JuniperFest was held on 21 June 2014, from 11am to 8pm across two
stages. An educational drumming company held workshops with pupils
over the two days beforehand, which were very popular! We required
lots of volunteers: to man the entrance, run stalls and craft
tents, supervise the inflatables and marshal the event, as well as
running the two stages (managing sound equipment, looking after the
bands, etc.). One of our parents is a DJ at a local radio station,
so she organised the ten acts for the main stage. For the orchard
stage we had a variety of acts including pupils and parents, local
musicians and storytellers. The event cost around £6,000 with
licence fees, bands, toilet hire, inflatables, printing of posters
and tickets, storytellers, stage hire and of course the music
workshops. We charged £10 for adults and £7.50 for children aged
4-18. Children's tickets included a free craft tent item, unlimited
inflatables use and three storyteller sessions. We sold 900 tickets
and raised £1,400. To make a bigger profit in 2015 we have reduced
costs and are seeking sponsors. My advice for PTAs is to get your
licence organised early; get as much help and equipment as possible
from people who have experience of similar events; set a budget and
stick to it; try to make it an authentic music festival experience
which stands out from typical school events. JuniperFest is a much
bigger event than a summer fair; it's a lot of work for everyone
involved but it's all worth it on the day! The whole event was held
outside, which gave no problems in itself as the weather was
fantastic. The previous year it did rain, which limited ticket
sales. We have had a few complaints about noise from local
residents, but we do all we can to minimise the impact on our
The above is intended as guidance only. We
recommend that you contact the relevant organisations with specific
reference to insurance, legal, health and safety and child
protection requirements. Community Inspired Ltd cannot be held
responsible for any decisions or actions taken by a PTA based on
the guidance provided.
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