Festivals at 'make or break moment' due to lack of government insurance

CANCELLED festivals could leave a significant hole in the pockets of organisers, due to the lack of an insurance scheme.

By David George
Saturday, 29th May 2021, 11:41 am
Updated Sunday, 30th May 2021, 10:22 am

The department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) committee has published a report into the future of the UK’s summer circuit is under threat after the government refused to take multiple opportunities’ to address the concerns of organisers.

The document, the result of consultation with artists, organisers and sector leaders, calls on ministers to introduce a time-limited insurance scheme for events scheduled to take place after June 21 – when social distancing measures are due to end – in case they are disrupted by a return to Covid-19 restrictions.

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Victorious Festival in Southsea, 2019. Picture: Shaun Roster

Boomtown Fair, on the Matterley Estate in Hampshire, is among the events to have cancelled their 2021 editions, blaming pandemic uncertainty and the lack of a government-backed insurance scheme.

MPs involved in the report said: ‘We strongly welcome the decision, following our questioning of the minister, to conduct a festival-type pilot in early May; however a one-day event for 5,000 people does not capture the full range of UK festivals and further pilots may therefore be needed.’

Victorious Festival at Southsea Common and the Isle of Wight Festival are both still slated to go ahead this year, taking place in August and September respectively. Previously the Victorious organisers have urged the government to bring in an insurance scheme, although Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage in her role as culture minister, later said she was not prepared to back an underwriting scheme for live events.

Jamie Njoku-Goodwin, chief executive of industry group UK Music, said the festival circuit was approaching a breaking point, and believes these two festivals could also be under threat without the safety net of government insurance.

He said: ‘If the government does not act on insurance, we will see further cancellations this summer. This is a make or break moment for this year’s summer festival season.

‘We are just a few weeks away from large events potentially being allowed again – but organisers are being expected to plan these events and pay huge upfront costs without any sort of safety net.’

Greg Parmley, chief executive of Live, the representative body for the UK live music industry, added: ‘Without some form of insurance the risk of going ahead will simply be too great for many festivals this year and, whatever happens with the reopening timetable, the vast majority of events could pull the plug in the coming weeks.’

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