MEPs call for action to save UK music festivals from another ‘lost summer’

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Immediate action must be taken to save UK music festivals from yet another ‘lost’ to Covid, an all-party committee of MPs has said.

Ministers must create a government-backed insurance scheme for festivals as soon as possible, given their long lead times, a report by Commons’ Digital, Culture, Media and Sports Committee argued, saying that it would already be too late for many events.

Another summer without income would not only result in the demise of many small festivals, but could also threaten the long-term future of the industry, as companies in the supply chain also close and trained specialist staff move to others. jobs.

The problems were exacerbated by the lack of access to the government’s cultural stimulus fund and by the fact that no festivals were included in the series of pilot programs designed to test the viability of mass events, the said. committee.

Music festivals had been “treated like the poor relation by the government,” said commission chairman, Conservative MP Julian Knight, despite the industry – which in a normal year hosts nearly 1,000 events – contributes to £ 1.76 billion to the UK economy and supports 85,000 jobs.

“It has been very clear to us that the vast majority of music festivals do not have the financial capacity to cover the costs of another year of late cancellations,” he said.

“If the commercial insurance market does not intervene, ministers must do so, and urgently: Events must now know whether the government will support them, or they simply will not take place this year. There is still time to get the music playing, but more room for excuses.

The committee’s report warns that while the government’s plan to emerge from lockdown includes the prospect of most distancing measures being removed in England on June 21, it may not be known whether that will happen for another week. which is far too late for festivals to plan.

With events taking place in early July, they will have paid 40% of their fees by June 14, and more than a quarter of festivals with a capacity of more than 5,000 seats have already been canceled for 2021.

The industry has been clamoring for months for an insurance plan similar to that offered to the film and television industries, which allowed production to restart earlier in the pandemic.

Despite this, the report says, the government “refused to seize multiple opportunities to address the market failure in providing insurance for live events this summer and set the conditions to unlock the important economic contribution and culture provided by festivals and their supply chains. ”.

A long-term impact could be further consolidation in the industry, according to the report, with smaller independent festivals being replaced or bought out by two large companies, Live Nation and AEG Presents, which already host nearly a third of the events with more. 5,000 attendances. This in turn could affect pricing and diversity, he added.

Another ripple effect of most festivals canceled this year could be what the report calls a ‘permanent skills gap’, with many companies providing services to festivals closing and staff or freelancers changing jobs. .

A government spokesperson said: “We continue to work hard to support festivals and live events. Our Events Research Program explored how festivals can safely resume operations and festival organizers have received over £ 34million from our unprecedented Culture Recovery Fund, with additional support in Classes.

“We will continue to examine what assistance may be needed as we move cautiously but irreversibly through the roadmap, including examining the issue of indemnity coverage.

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