To celebrate International Women’s Day, we had a chat with a key women in the festival scene, Josie da Bank – Creative Director at Bestival. Here’s what Josie had to say…
The visual creativity and concepts behind Bestival and Camp Bestival are a huge part of their identity. As the women behind this each year, what inspires you?
I studied textiles at Goldsmiths University and this plays a big part in everything I do. Our shows are full of different fabrics, patterns and colours, plus pieces I’ve collected from my travels to countries like India, Marrakesh and Bali. Travel is a huge passion of mine. You can also see it in some of the features like the Temple Stage and Bollywood Tent .
I want people to feel special. I want them to feel like coming to the festival is worth it, and for me how you set the scene is key .
Camp Bestival is a key family event in the summer calendar. What would you say are a three top tips to make a festival or event as family friendly as possible?
Safety is everything at Camp Bestival . Our event team are spot on and put all the children above and beyond everything . The entertainment stops at a reasonable time so parents don’t feel like they are missing out and can fully enjoy the day . I’d like to think our audience recognise this, and allows them to relax and enjoy the event .
It’s key for me to put on as many activities as I can for all ages to keep the children happy all day – activities that can be done without parents to give parents a break and also many that can be done with parents to create a special family moment . Doing and making things that you don’t do in everyday life.
I also think Camp Bestival is enjoyable for families because there’s so much diversity across everything we do; entertainment, food, accommodation, styles of camping, workshops, wellbeing. There’s something for everyone. And most things are free once you arrive .
Festival life can get extremely busy, especially when the summer season arrives. How do you maintain a work life balance?
I do a lot of yoga and breathing which helps keep me calm. Also sharing the business with my husband helps – we both have the same agenda and the children come with us. As soon as they turn 16 they will be working on the show.
There are more awards and recognitions for females across many industries every year. Who are you inspired by?
I’m inspired by my team and the women behind the scenes. Most of my team are women and they make the show happen in the way it does. They get me and my aesthetic and attention to detail. It wouldn’t be the same without this team of strong women that don’t take any S*** . When there is a crisis or we are dealing with bad weather they never give up and are so so driven to problem solve. Most of them have been with me for my whole festival career which really does say something .
In your opinion, what changes are there to be made in the festival industry over the next 5 years, if any?
Obviously all live events need to tackle the environmental issues we are facing. I’m lucky that my audience take home there tents and clear up after themselves – they want to teach there children how to protect the planet. However the bigger festivals have to find away to reduce waste and get people to take there belongings home – it upset me so so much at Bestival .
Events perhaps need to start addressing the amount and quality of meat being sold across food vendors, the same goes for palm oil and other products. Perhaps make artists take smaller riders with less waste and omit the things they just don’t need. It needs to come from everyone, not just the customers.
I think we also need to keep costs down for the customer so festivals can continue to be affordable and creative magical life changing places . But again this needs to come from the top – when artists and agents want to charge millions it makes it impossible to break even.