We talked summer with Bestival and Common People co-founder, Rob da Bank

‘It’s not getting any easier to put festivals on, but it’s been a lot of fun’

Rob da Bank has been in the festival business for well over a decade, so he certainly knows his stuff.  Managing to organise multiple festivals over the season he is a busy man, but he had time to talk to us about his time in the industry and where it is headed.

What can people expect from Common People and Bestival this year?

Different things really, Common People in Oxford is our second year back. It went really well last year and we have sold a lot more this year.  So two days of fun in the sun down at the lovely South Park, lots of bands, DJs and Oxford talent.  A festival that is as much for Oxford as it is for us.

You’ve been doing festivals for a while now, what would you say is your favourite festival moment? 

Well obviously Common People Oxford is up there. Whenever we launch a new festival it is always really exciting. All joking aside, launching Common People in Oxford and Southampton has been really great but obviously my actual favourite moment was probably watching Stevie Wonder play at Bestival a few years ago. He’s an icon.

What do you think is the biggest change between when Bestival started and where it is now? 

Crikey, probably competition. When we started there was only a handful of festivals out there and now there is something like 800. It’s good though, I like the competition. People also expect very high standards from festivals which is good. It means that we have to work harder. It’s not getting any easier to put festivals on, but it’s been a lot of fun.

Where do you see Bestival and Common People going? 

Well I am happy with where they are both at really. It’s not like we want to increase the capacity or anything.  We set up the festival with it possibly growing a bit but we are very happy with the capacity and where they are at. There is a lot of competition out there – most festivals are just happy to sell out. Most festivals aren’t looking to expand just because it is such a competitive market at the moment.  The most important thing is that people have a great time and have a safe time.

On that note, you’re involved in a campaign to tackle sexual assault at festivals. What action will be taken at Bestival and your other festivals this year to help with that?

It’s not just sexual assault, it’s inappropriate behaviour. AIS are focusing on sexual assault but at Bestival and all our other festivals we are determined to have a safe time, male or female or whatever you are people should be able to have a great time. We are stepping it up a bit in terms of stewards and security, who are being briefed on how to deal with these sort of things and spotting inappropriate behaviour.

The important message is that this isn’t something that is a problem at our festivals. Any of it happening is a problem, but not more so on a high street on a Saturday night. We are just trying to keep ahead of the game and make sure that we are prepared for it.

Any final comments?

We would just like to say thank you to the people of Oxford for supporting Common People and making it possible to come back for year two.  That is no mean feat and it is quite hard to get through the first year so thanks to everyone for coming down and we will see you in two weeks in South Park.

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