MPs to examine plight of music festivals amid Covid-19

Alex Green, PA Entertainment Reporter
·3-min read

MPs are to examine the plight of music festivals in the UK after Covid-19 restrictions led to widespread cancellations across the year.

The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee will look at how Government policy could support festivals due to take place in 2021.

Following the cancellations of Glastonbury, Isle of Wight, TRNSMT and smaller grassroots events, the sector has seen revenues fall by 90%.

Some 4.9 million people attended a festival in the UK in 2018, with festivals estimated to have generated £1.76 billion in gross value added last year.

Festivals can currently take place if they are Covid-secure and comply with all relevant legislation.

However, social distancing remains an issue as many events will be unable to break even with substantially reduced ticket sales.

Industry bodies including UK Music and the Help Musicians charity have touted festivals as an essential stepping stone for future stars in developing an audience.

The inquiry will also consider the potential impact of festivals collapsing on local communities, ticket holders and suppliers, as well as the freelance workforce.

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DCMS committee chairman Julian Knight said the collapse of the music festival sector is a ‘real cause for concern’ (Chris McAndrew/UK Parliament/PA)

DCMS committee chairman Julian Knight said: “The collapse of the vibrant music festival sector this year is a real cause for concern. The majority of festivals have been cancelled, with the money they generate down by 90% and real risks surrounding their future viability.

“We have so many legendary festivals that have given the UK a worldwide reputation – it would be devastating if they were unable to come back with a bang, or if smaller festivals that underpin the talent pipeline disappear entirely.

“We want to hear from festival staff as they face huge pressures, fans who’ve missed out, as well as musicians, on the contribution that festivals make to our culture and economy.

“It’s crucial that support to enable music festivals to go ahead in 2021 and beyond is put in place. We’ll be assessing what’s been done so far and what more needs to be done to safeguard the future of festivals.”

It came as the Music Venue Trust launched a “traffic light” system to highlight venues at risk as part of its ongoing Save Our Venues campaign.

The trust, which represents hundreds of UK grassroots music venues, has designated spaces as either green, amber or red based on their financial risk levels.

There are currently 30 venues designated red and therefore at imminent risk of permanent closure.

Mark Davyd, chief executive of the Music Venue Trust, said: “We are now focusing exclusively on those 30 remaining venues which face immediate permanent closure.

“If people want these local venues to still be there when this is over, there is a very clear call to action: choose a venue, get donating, get writing, get calling, get organised. Save them all. Reopen every venue safely.”