UK festivals at risk of ‘widespread collapse’ in 2021 without Government insurance, AIF warns

Jochan Embley
·2-min read
<p>A pilot music festival took place in Liverpool’s Sefton Park on May 2</p> (Getty Images)

A pilot music festival took place in Liverpool’s Sefton Park on May 2

(Getty Images)

More than three quarters of UK music festivals set for July and August are at risk of cancellation unless they are insured by the Government, a leading industry body has predicted.

The stark “red alert” warning comes from the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF), which today reports that 26 per cent of UK festivals with a capacity above 5,000 have already been cancelled “due to Government inaction on insurance”.

According to the AIF, “most” of the large music events that are hoping to run events in July and August, will “need to commit to substantial, non-refundable costs by the end of May”.

According to the Government’s roadmap, all limits on social contact are set to be removed by June 21 at the earliest, seemingly paving a way for large-scale music events to return this summer.

However, without a government-backed cancellation insurance scheme for the sector — such as the ones implemented in Austria, Denmark, Sweden and the Netherlands, and similar to those given to the UK film and television industries — many organisers are reluctant to sink huge costs into the planning of their events.

A significant amount of money has been given to UK festivals as part of the Arts Council’s Culture Recovery Fund, although many events still require the “safety net” of insurance. Boomtown, the multi-day festival which was hoping to host more than 60,000 people this summer, received CRF money but was still forced to cancel its plans last month. Deershed, Bluedot and Beat Herder have also recently cancelled.

Even more worryingly, the AIF warns that 72 per cent of its members have said “that if they do not take place in 2021, they will require financial support to return in 2022”.

Paul Reed, CEO of the AIF, said that the pilot festival that took place in Liverpool last weekend “could be an important milestone in the safe return of festivals. But, without a safety net, independent promoters cannot begin to confidently invest in their events.”

Mr Reed added: “They currently have no protection should a Covid-related issue result in the cancellation of their festival. If Government-backed insurance is off the table, festival organisers deserve to know what Government proposes as an alternative to prevent the widespread collapse of the festival season.”

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