The music festival scene in the UK is a marvel of the world, with enough variety to suit a myriad of tastes. Since the launch of outdoor music festivals in the swinging 60s they have undergone a metamorphosis, from an underground scene to a widespread phenomenon enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of music fans every summer. In honor of Kendal Calling’s tenth birthday, and featuring top authors and festival experts, this panel discussion hosted by acclaimed researcher Professor George McKay examines how festival culture has evolved while remaining, in some parts at least, true to its roots of experimentation, togetherness and fun in the countryside.


Chair: Professor George McKay

George McKay’s research and teaching interests are in alternative culture and media, the cultural politics of popular music, disability, festivals, and gardening. He has written or edited numerous books and collections in these fields. Among his books are Senseless Acts of Beauty: Cultures of Resistance since the Sixties (Verso, 1996), DiY Culture: Party & Protest in Nineties Britain (ed., Verso, 1998), Glastonbury: A Very English Fair (Gollancz, 2000), Community Music: A Handbook (co-ed. with Pete Moser, Russell House, 2004), Circular Breathing: The Cultural Politics of Jazz in Britain (Duke UP, 2005), Radical Gardening: Politics, Idealism and Rebellion in the Garden (Frances Lincoln, 2011), Shakin’ All Over: Popular Music and Disability (University of Michigan Press, 2013), and The Pop Festival: History, Music, Media, Culture (ed., Bloomsbury, 2015).




Dr Emma Webster, Oxford Brookes University

Emma Webster is an academic expert on live music and festivals and is also a promoter in her spare time. Emma wrote the six-year report of the Association of Independent Festivals in 2014 and an audience survey report for Guilfest in 2012; she has worked at the Big Chill and Truck Festival in the past. For her PhD thesis, Emma Webster wrote the first academic account of what live music promoters do and the contexts within which they work. Emma is currently an Honorary Research Associate at Oxford Brookes University and a Director of Live Music Exchange, an online hub for anyone interested in live music research –http://www.livemusicexchange.org


Rob Scully, Croissant Neuf Festival


Rob Scully has worked in the operational and environmental management of festivals for 18 years. Rob manages on-site logistics and infrastructure at Kendal Calling and Festival No. 6, and is co-promoter and site manager for Croissant Neuf Summer Party & the Castle Sessions https://www.linkedin.com/pub/rob-scully/15/441/a49


Ben Challis, Glastonbury Festival  


Ben is a UK lawyer specialising in music and entertainment law. His clients include the world famous Glastonbury Festival, where Ben is Executive Producer for television and also General Counsel. Ben also acts for Africa Express, Damon Albarn’s eclectic collaboration of African and Western musicians, for the Prince’s Trust for Arcadia Spectacular and for Yourope, the European festivals association.







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