Target date but no insurance: a quarter of UK festivals canceled
More than a quarter of UK festivals with a capacity of more than 5,000 have been canceled due to government inaction on insurance, according to an assessment by the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF).
The association’s research, which tracked the 2021 festival season, indicates that 26% of UK festivals with capacity over 5,000 have already announced that they will not go ahead this year.
This includes independent events like Boomtown, Deershed, Bluedot or Beat Herder, as well as major festivals like Glastonbury.
The AIF predicts that “up to 76% of the remaining festivals (ie those slated to take place in July and August) could quickly be canceled if immediate action is not taken.”
As it stands, it is estimated that 131 festivals of over 5,000 capacities are expected to take place at some point in 2021. The vast majority are scheduled for July (38%) and August (38%), September (16 %) and October (6%).
As AIF points out, “22% of festivals tracked by AIF now take place in September / October – a jump from 10% according to an analysis earlier in the year, illustrating how many organizers have changed plans to avoid complications if the roadmap does not go according to the plan.
“The AIF is once again calling for urgent government intervention to save the remainder of the 2021 festival season and protect the long-term survival of many of the companies behind these events.”
Since most of the events still scheduled for July and August will have to incur substantial, non-refundable costs by the end of May at the latest, the only thing that would really ensure their survival is insurance.
However, no such insurance has yet been seriously considered by the government.
Expecting the remaining festivals to delay their 2021 events becomes increasingly unrealistic as the September / October period becomes more congested, putting pressure on an already strained supply chain.
The cancellation for a second year in a row will make it impossible for some events to return in 2022, at least without substantial financial support.
The UK is the only country to have given its live entertainment professionals a target date for reopening; According to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s roadmap outside of Lockdown, all restrictions on social gatherings will be lifted on June 21, as long as the coronavirus count allows.
At the same time, the government has failed to put in place an insurance scheme that would allow the sector to plan its events without risking bankruptcy. The industry has demanded a program similar to what UK policymakers have offered to the country’s film industry.
The AIF has been insisting on assurances for months and the live music coordination group LIVE has written to the Prime Minister and the Culture Secretary, suggesting that reserve funds in the government’s Culture Recovery Fund could be used to create a contingency fund offering partial protection to promoters. However, the industry has yet to receive a response from politicians.
“Now is the red alert for the UK festival season. By the end of this month, 76% of the remaining festivals planned for 2021 could very quickly disappear from the calendar.
“It is extremely positive that there was a pilot festival as part of the Event Research Program last weekend, and it could be a big step in the safe return of festivals. But, without a net safety, independent promoters cannot confidently start investing in their events.
“They currently have no protection if a Covid-related issue causes their festival to be canceled. If government backed insurance is not being considered, festival organizers deserve to know what the government is proposing as an alternative to prevent the widespread collapse of the festival season. “