Michael Eavis is an English dairy farmer, and is best known as the founder of Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts, which takes place on his farm in Pilton, Somerset. It all began in the late sixties; after a casual visit to the Bath Blues festival with his girlfriend Jean, Michael decided to have a go himself in 1970. The Festival did not make a profit for several years, but when it did, Michael began to look for good causes to support both locally and internationally. Nowadays, the Festival aims to raise two million pounds each Festival year in aid of Greenpeace, Oxfam and WaterAid, as well as hundreds of local causes.
Harley K. Dubois is the Chief Transition Officer of Burning Man. She is a co-founder of Black Rock City, LLC and founding Board Member of Burning Man Project. Her expertise in project management, art facilitation, and city planning has made her an essential resource for the growth of Burning Man into a worldwide cultural and artistic movement. Currently, Harley oversees the complex transition of BRC into a subsidiary under the nonprofit organization. Harley is also a founding Board member of the Black Rock Arts Foundation, where she created the Grants to Artists program. For eight years, Harley served as City Manager of BRC, overseeing many practical aspects of the establishment and disappearance of the city, including Community Services, Life Safety, City Zoning, Sustainability, and Volunteerism. She has also been deeply involved in the leadership of the fiduciary, legal, and staff development aspects of the entire organization.
Harley speaks extensively on behalf of the organization, including representing Burning Man to numerous regional and international Burning Man events.
Shona McCarthy is the Chief Executive of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society – the charity that organises the structure which underpins the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the largest arts festival in the world. Originally from County Down, Shona has dedicated her career to championing and developing the arts and culture. From 2011 to 2014 she was Chief Executive of the Culture Company, leading on Derry-Londonderry’s transformational year as UK City of Culture, creating and delivering a world-class, citywide cultural programme for 2013. Prior to that she was Director of the British Council Northern Ireland leading a team of 40 to oversee international programmes of work across schools, arts and Higher Education to build positive international cultural relations. She also spent many years as Chief Executive of Cinemagic Film Festival for young people; and the Foyle Film Festival; and was Head of Exhibition at the Northern Ireland Film Council. In 2007 she was the Northern Ireland recipient of a NESTA cultural leadership award which took her to live and work in India with Seagull Foundation for the Arts in Calcutta, and in 2014 she was Northern Ireland’s recipient of the Eisenhower Fellowship. As well as her Fringe commitments, Shona is also Chair of Oh Yeah Music Centre in Belfast, and Walk The Plank, a Salford-based theatre company specialising in outdoor arts and pyrotechnics.
Tom Harfleet has been the show manager of the Royal Horticultural society’s flagship show since 2015. Tom brings a unique approach to the role with a background in conceptual garden design in which he has achieved multiple awards including a Gold medal for a Fresh Garden at the 2013 RHS Chelsea Flower Show. Tom was also part of the team that pioneered the world’s first 3D printed garden Show miNiATURE. During Tom’s time at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show he has worked to implement changes to keep this 103 year old show relevant to the enthusiastic and knowable audience.
Maria has been centrally involved in the festivals and events sector in Ireland since 2000. She began her career in this sector as CEO of Ireland’s St Patrick’s Festival. She has successfully produced and marketed over 15 flagship events with a combined audience estimated at 7 million people and a combined proven economic impact of over €300 million.
Fresh from their roles as Festival Director and Events Manager, respectively, with the Volvo Ocean Race Galway in 2009, Maria, together with Katie Shackleton, founded Milestone Inventive in 2010. Currently Milestone produces the flagship, Galway International Oyster and Seafood Festival which, now in its 63rd year. Maritime events have been a Milestone speciality, including the production of the shore-side programmes for the visits to Ireland of the Clipper Round the World Sailing Race in Cork in 2010 and in Derry in 2012 and delivering the Commercial Agency for the visit to Dublin of the Tall Ships Race in 2012, raising €500,000.
In 2016, acting for the Arts Council, RTE and other partners, Milestone produced the “A Nation’s Voice” 1916 Centenary concert at Collins Barracks involving a choir of 1,000 and the National Symphony Orchestra. Maria and her team at Milestone Inventive also produce a number of markets throughout Ireland, including Christmas Markets in Galway, Kildare and Dublin and the Temple Bar Saturday Markets for Dublin City Council. They further specialise in economic impact evaluation and have project managed initiatives such as National Heritage Week and tourism marketing campaigns. Maria’s other credits include the ‘Day of Welcomes’ to celebrate Ireland’s presidency of the EU in 2004 and the 2004 Bloomsday Centenary.
Ian Renton joined the Jockey Club as Regional Director with responsibility for Cheltenham and the South West in October 2012, inheriting The Festival which that year had attracted an attendance in excess of 230,000. Between March 2014 and November 2015, Ian oversaw a £45m Development at Cheltenham, comprising a new Grandstand and improved space and viewing areas across the site.
In addition to overseeing the development, Ian set himself the task of upgrading the facilities and services at The Festival to ensure that racegoers enjoyed an experience in keeping with the quality of the sport on offer at the 4-day Festival. In the four years that Ian has overseen The Festival, he has increased sponsorship revenue by 25%, attendance revenue by 30%, catering revenue by 50% and hospitality revenue by 75%.
Ian’s desire is to ensure that all those attending The Festival, whether paying for a £25 ticket into the Best Mate enclosure or a £900 Chez Roux hospitality package, leave the racecourse in the belief they received great value, a great experience and wish to return the following year. The Festival is the major jump racing festival in the world and, in 2016, attracted over 260,000 people over the four days in 2016, the fourth highest attended sporting event in the UK.
Founder & Managing Director, Wide Awake Communications Ltd
Justin is the Author and Creator of the highly acclaimed and award-winning document, ‘Let’s Celebrate 2017 – The Cultural and Economic Contribution of Live Entertainment Events in Ireland’ www.letscelebrate2017.ie. For the first time ever, in a ground-breaking independent piece of research, the report quantified the economic and cultural impact of live entertainment events in Ireland.
Previously, Justin researched and wrote the widely acclaimed independent review of the Phoenix Park 2012 concerts. Justin produced and wrote, in conjunction with Ireland’s national police force (An Garda Siochana) the official Protocol document for the policing of outdoor events, which was implemented in 2013.
Justin Green is one of the most experienced Communications Consultants with over 25 years’ experience across the Entertainment, Marketing and Public Relations Industries. During this time Justin has worked with some of the biggest names in the world of entertainment as well as major events including the historic visits of Presidents Obama and Clinton to Ireland, the MTV Europe Music Awards, the Special Olympics World Games held in Dublin and the official Government New Year and Millennium Celebrations. In addition, he has worked with European and International Government Ministers and Departments, European and African Commission representatives and international consumer agencies.
Gary Graham is Show Director for Bloom, Ireland’s largest flower, food and family festival. Run by Bord Bia, Bloom 2016 attracted 115,000 visitors over 5 days, while 500,000 tuned in to watch Bloom Live on national television. As a trained horticulturalist, Gary’s real passion is plants. He is on a personal mission to educate Ireland about the joys and benefits of living, working and playing in a green environment. Gary joined Bord Bia, the government agency with responsibility for promoting Irish food and horticulture, in 2004. From the outset he recognised the need for a world–class event to showcase the best of Ireland’s landscapers, garden designers, indigenous plants and nurseries.
In 2007, Gary secured a 70 acre OPW site in the heart of the world-renowned Phoenix Park. Bord Bia’s Bloom event was borne and a ten year horticultural odyssey began.
Bloom generates over €40 million consumer spend in the gardening category each year and it spawned the highly successful Super Garden TV series, now in its 9th year. The festival appeals to all ages and dispositions and despite its relative youth, its international reputation is already among the best in class like the Chelsea Flower Show, Chaumont sur Loire and The Philadelphia Garden Show.
Willie White has been Artistic Director and Chief Executive of Dublin Theatre Festival since 2011. The festival is a key event in the city’s cultural calendar and celebrates its 60th anniversary in 2017.
Willie has curated the Theatre Tent in the Mindfield Arena at Electric Picnic since 2011. Previously he was Artistic Director of Project Arts Centre for nine years, Artistic Director of Dublin Youth Theatre 2007-2010 and worked on RTÉ television arts programmes for four years.
Willie is a sectoral member of Dublin City Council’s Culture, Recreation and Amenity Strategic Policy Committee and is also involved in advocacy with the National Campaign for the Arts. He was President of IETM, the international performing arts network from 2013-2017. He has been a Council Member of Dublin Chamber of Commerce since 2015 and joined its board earlier this year.
Willie is a graduate of University College Dublin and Trinity College, where he read for Masters degrees in English Literature and Irish Theatre respectively. He is originally from Abbeyleix, Co. Laois, down the road from Stradbally, where he got his start in the performing arts representing his home county with a variety troupe at the Community Games of 1982.
Mark Rowlette has been a key member of the management team in Failte Ireland, the National Tourism Development Authority for a number of years. Currently Mark is leading a programme to heighten the profile of Dublin as a premier tourism destination for international travellers.
Mark has excelled in a variety of diverse roles with the organization including: international publicity, trade marketing, product development, media relations, board relations and governance. Most recently, Mark has been involved in the strategic planning and the implementation of a new direction for National and Regional Festivals , including: New Year’s Festival, St Patricks Festival, Bram Stoker Festival and developing new and off season events, primarily using the company’s new What’s the Big Idea initiative that aligns with Failte Ireland’s corporate strategy.
Mark represented Fáilte Ireland in the delivery of the 2016 Commemorations and has a keen interest in the City. He is also involved in the Dublin Discovery trails in partnership with Dublin City Council which successfully delivered nine new self-guided walking tours for Dublin over the past two years.
Dave has been described as the ultimate fan, who through broadcasting, has been able to make a career out of his many passions in life, chiefly, music and movies! He hosts his show The Dave Fanning show on RTÉ 2FM between 9am-11am on Saturdays and Sundays where he brings the listeners a mix of interviews, newspaper reviews, movies and music.
Over the last couple of decades Dave has presented over twenty different series for RTÉ Television, including Rock Sundown, 2TV, Jobsuss, Visual Eyes, The Arts Show, Music Zone, Number One, a pop quiz which ran for six years, and The Movie Show, a movie review show which ran for ten years where Dave conducted many one-on-one interviews with movie stars.
*Photo by Barry McCall