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Music Festival Volunteer Training Challenges.

Andy Robertson

It has been well documented in the media this year that the recruitment of volunteers for music festivals has been a challenge. This can have serious implications for the logistics and safety of any large-scale music festival but for organisers this can be compounded by difficulties in getting volunteers sufficiently trained in a timely manner.


The training of volunteers recruited for any music festival is a key element of the operational efficiency of these events. All volunteers are usually required to attend training sessions and these are run well in advance of the festival dates with regular updates closer to the event along with on-site briefings. Recruitment of volunteers has been challenging this year in part due to economic pressures which have reduced volunteer applications as people seem to be less willing to give up their time for free.

Scheduling Training. 
A large festival that identifies a need for perhaps more than of 100 volunteers will schedule training sessions of 1 or 2 days as far away as 6 months before the event dates with follow up sessions closer to the event probably a few weeks before. Traditionally big music festivals have had relatively few issues recruiting volunteers and applications would be oversubscribed well in advance. With shortfalls now occurring the training schedules will be disrupted as the applications are staggered with many volunteers applying just a few weeks before an event. Volunteer managers may find they have to start running multiple training sessions as new volunteers come onboard requiring the same sessions to be repeated.

Impact on Festival Logistics.
As organisers are forced to stagger their training some late applying volunteers may end up getting only basic training leaving them unprepared for the realities of a live music festival. Even if a music festival manages to recruit 80% of their estimated quota there will still be no shows resulting in the festival site being short staffed and potentially poorly trained. Specific issues that have been seen this year are poor customer service on-site for festival-goers along with some questionable crowd control.

Possible Solutions. 
Festival organisers can try approaching some of the established charity operators like My Cause UK to source volunteers but they will be competing against other festivals facing the same challenges. They can try advertising for volunteer recruitment earlier in the planning process and offering more incentives to attract volunteers. Organisers can consider offering enhanced site access or the provision of accommodation for example. Although many festival organisers insist having in person training it may be prudent to leave this to a week before the event dates and perform multiple online streamed sessions at an earlier stage. Streaming training sessions can be conducted more frequently and are less expensive to run.

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.

Photo by Matheus Bertelli via Pexels

Andy Robertson
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