Festivals in the UK are hanging in the balance, due to a lack of government-funded insurance to cover last-minute event cancellations due to COVID-19.
The Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) has warned that festivals in the UK are on “red alert,” and more than 25% with a capacity of 5,000 have already cancelled.
It’s feared that up to 76% of the remaining events scheduled for July and August could be forced to follow suit if the UK Government doesn’t act fast.
Festivals in the UK need the protection of insurance underwritten by the government, so unexpected cancellations don’t lead to bankruptcy of festival brands who stake a full year’s income on revenue generated from a single event.
The unpredictable situation of the pandemic, vaccine schemes, and virus mutations, have created uncertainty like never before, and festival organisers need reassurance that their cultural events won’t bring them financial ruin if forced to cancel.
Festival attendees might be able to get refunds, but many festivals organisers have many non-refundable overheads, meaning they give back the ticket money, then pay everything else out of their own pocket.
The government in the UK has outlined plans for staggered reopening, which aims to allow large crowds to gather at public events after the 21st of June 2021. This is an estimated date, and there is no guarantee it won’t get pushed back.
Leading festivals such as Glastonbury and Boomtown Fair have already cancelled their events for this year due to the uncertainty of dates and lack of emergency support that would allow them to refund tickets and pay their non-refundable overheads.
AIF figures show 22% of the festivals monitored have moved dates to late summer and early autumn in an effort to avoid unexpected problems. In a statement, AIF CEO Paul Reed said: “For months now, we have been warning Government that the UK’s 2021 festival season would be quickly eroded if they failed to back their own roadmap out of lockdown and act on COVID-related cancellation insurance. That danger is now coming to pass, with over a quarter of festivals having cancelled already this year.”
He continued: “Without a safety net, independent promoters cannot begin to confidently invest in their events. 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.”
Friday 1st and Saturday 2nd May saw the UK hold its first legal COVID-19 test events to gauge the safety of large gatherings, and there have been some similar trial events in other parts of Europe.
H/T: DJ Mag