UK music festivals urge government to act to save summer events

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London (AFP)

Organizers of UK music festivals said on Tuesday the coronavirus pandemic had devastated the industry and warned the events could go away for good without more government support.

Giving evidence to a UK parliamentary committee, organizers and industry representatives of the multi-billion pound summer festivals said a government-backed insurance scheme was essential for events taking place in 2021.

They also encouraged ministers to set a clear decision-making timeline, to give festivals enough time to prepare for this year’s events.

“If we come to Easter (early April) and we still don’t know that crowds can gather at festivals, regardless of their size, then we’re in dire straits,” Steve Heap of the Association of festival organizers, told lawmakers.

He added that a recent membership survey showed almost half needed to know if the events of 2021 could take place in the first three months of the year.

Sacha Lord, co-founder of the annual Parklife festival in Manchester, north-west England, said organizers as well as freelancers and entrepreneurs involved in supply chains could all be ‘wiped out’ without the events of this year.

“If we don’t take place in 2021, I think the vast majority could disappear,” he added.

– ‘Existential crisis’ –

Britain – one of the countries hardest hit by the global health crisis, with more than 75,000 deaths – has seen its music industry worth 5.8 billion pounds ($ 7.9 billion, 6.4 billion dollars). ‘euros) hard hit by the pandemic.

A series of nationwide lockdowns, the most recent of which was announced Monday night, and months of other restrictions to curb the close-contact spread of the virus have closed concert halls.

In July, the music industry received a £ 250m lifeline from the £ 1.6bn government cultural recovery fund to help keep the arts afloat during the outbreak.

But every year thousands of Britons and tourists flock to the country’s summer music festivals, which take months of planning and now appear to be increasingly under threat.

An umbrella organization for the music industry echoed organizers’ concerns in a report released Tuesday, noting that the summer events were in an “existential crisis” due to Covid-19.

“There is a real threat that the vast majority of the 2021 season won’t happen either,” the organization said, noting that they were “the mainstays of our culturally rich live music scene and feature an incredible variety of genres. musical ”.

The famous Glastonbury Music Festival, for example, generates over £ 100million for the economy of the South West of England, UK Music has said.

Music festivals as a whole directly employ 85,000 people each year, he said.

UK Music has joined calls for a rough date for the sites to reopen and for the creation of a government-backed reinsurance program for the industry.

He noted that similar programs had been launched in Germany and Austria.

“Insurance is the most critical factor that will allow us to plan festivals,” added Paul Reed, CEO of the Association of Independent Festivals, to the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

“It’s the key to unlocking everything else. ”

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