How to create a realistic budget for your festival

How to create a realistic budget for your festival

To ensure the success of your festival, it is essential to set a realistic budget. Anticipating effectively allows you to plan your spending, avoid financial surprises, and maximise profits.

In this article, we share 5 tips on realistically budgeting your festival.

1. Analyse your target audience and their expectations


Before you even start thinking about the budget for your festival, you need to draw up a profile of your attendees, also known as your ‘buyer persona’. If you imagine precisely who your festival attendees will be and their spending habits, you can assess their expectations more accurately.

Depending on the interests and budget of the attendees, you can offer them different activities, for free or paid. In the case of a music festival, for example, you will not book the same artists if your attendees are young adults or older people. The same goes for the food and drink offered at the festival.

Take the time to analyse your festival attendees and plan the budget to meet their expectations best.

Tip: Discover our 2022 Barometer on festival consumption and audiences.

2. Plan all your expenses


Careful budget planning will avoid unforeseen events that could jeopardise the success of your event. To do this, draw up a detailed programme for your festival and all planning phases and deadlines.

Having an overview of the organisation of your festival allows you to manage your expenses better and spread them over time.

Tip: Discover our article on organising a festival in 8 steps.

Calculate the estimated budget you think you will need to meet your goals. Make a table with the different items of expected costs, such as:

● Artists’ cache
● Copyright
● Rental of space
● Stages, light, sound, decoration
● Suppliers
● Insurance
● Staff
● Marketing and communication
● Accommodation
● Material of all kinds
● …

Then try to go a step further by detailing the costs included in each of these categories. Once you have listed your expenses, do the same for all your expected income.

Plan your cash flow by putting your financial movements on a calendar. This process will allow you to know in advance the state of your cash flow at any given moment and avoid an overdraft that could jeopardise your festival.

Update this document as frequently and thoroughly as possible with all expected inflows and outflows of funds.

3. Leave a safety margin to deal with unforeseen events

As with any budget, leaving a margin to cover unforeseen circumstances is essential.

No matter how well you plan your budget, there is no such thing as zero risk, and last-minute changes or needs may arise. This could be, for example, a performer who cancels and for whom you have to find a replacement with short notice or a malfunctioning infrastructure or equipment that also needs to be replaced quickly.

Whatever the unforeseen event, you will be able to deal with it if you have the budget for it. Therefore, we recommend leaving a safety margin of approximately 15% of the estimated budget.

4. Ask for advice

Although the advice we share with you is valuable, don’t stop at reading this article! To get a realistic view of the budget needed for what you want to do and to gain helpful advice, consult other sources of information.

For example, inform yourself in your area and join a support network, such as a festival organisers association. In addition to budgeting, these resources will help you create your festival.

I’m sure there are organisers with years of experience managing festival budgets who can help you develop a realistic budget and avoid typical mistakes. They can also give you ideas on how to optimise your budget and maximise the benefits of your festival.

5. Fund your festival

Once you have worked out the budget for the organisation of your festival, it is time to find funding.

The costs associated with organising such an event are often considerable. To avoid having to draw on your financial resources, it is essential to plan the financing of your festival well in advance.

If you manage your budget correctly, you can create a sustainable and profitable festival for years!

Take your festival planning one step further by downloading our free white paper, aimed at anyone looking to start and organise their first festival.

A practical guide to organising festivals

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