UK festivals are selling out, but what if they get cancelled?

Festival organisers are relieved to be selling tickets but worried about COVID related cancellations.

After the UK Government released its roadmap for reopening after the COVID-19 lockdown, festivals and clubs have been announcing dates for planned events.

According to the current schedule, it’s expected that festivals and events can take place after 21st June 2021.

This has been welcome news for many people who have been desperate to get their fix of live music, and as a result, tickets have been quickly selling out.

Paul Reed is chief executive at the Association of Independent Festivals, and in an interview with The Guardian said: “Lots of our members have seen sale spikes since Monday, which has generated lots of consumer confidence. There is a huge appetite for live experiences and I don’t think that is surprising. It’s about communal experiences, being outdoors in groups.

Festivals that have announced tickets have sold out in the last few days including leading events such as Creamfields, Reading and Leeds Festival, Boomtown and Field Day.

Following Monday’s roadmap announcement from the UK government, apparently, leading events retailer Ticketmaster saw a 600% increase in traffic on its UK site.

Andrew Parsons is the UK site director for Ticketmaster, and in a statement said: “We’ve had around 2 million fans on our site with half a million visits to the Ticketmaster Festival Finder guide. It’s a week unlike any we’ve experienced in a typical February. The pent-up demand to get back to live events is undeniable. Fans are ready to make up for lost time and it’s just brilliant to see.

It isn’t all good news though, as a rise in ticket sales could backfire with huge ramifications is another COVID-19 spike means events have to be unexpectedly cancelled at the last minute, and some event organisers are making arrangements at the risk of a financial loss if tickets are to be refunded at the last minute due to factors outside of their control.

This has caused event organisers to put pressure on the government to provide a cancellation fund in place for events that are trying to help kickstart the nightlife and festival business sectors.

Germany has a fund of 2.5 billion euros, and the Dutch government have a similar fund of 300 million euros. This has led to event organisers in the UK calling for government-funded cancellation insurance for anything COVID-19 related.

Jamie Tagg who runs the Mighty Hoopla festival in London, said that festivals have seen a record spike in ticket sales this year, but also stated: “The longer it goes on the more nervous we might get. Insurance would be everything for us right now.

Sacha Lord who founded the Parklife Festival in Manchester has also called for some government insurance, saying: “Let’s follow in the footsteps of other countries, where there is an insurance indemnity policy. We are not expecting a free handout and we will pay a small percentage of the turnover figure. Putting a festival on is hard without insurance in place, that is why Glastonbury cancelled.

Paul Reed (Association of Independent Festivals) said it’s an “enormous risk” for independent festivals to push ahead their planning without cover, before adding: “Insurance is more critical than ever and it is something we have been pushing for as a sector for many months. We welcome the roadmap, but the 2021 festival season is not guaranteed. There is still a chance of cancellations.”

There are essential costs to be met for it to get signed off. It is not just about artist or production deposits, where there may be flexibility, but there are essential costs like medical provision.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has his next budget meeting on March 3rd where it’s hoped announcements will be made for an events cancellation fund.

We are eternally grateful for those who have been optimistic to announce their summers events, and we have our fingers crossed that there will be a summer festival season in 2021!

H/T: Mixmag


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