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Music festivals call for new government scheme as sector faces ruin

The vast majority of British music festivals will disappear if faced with a second consecutive barren year, according to evidence given at a parliamentary inquiry into their post-pandemic survival.

Following a live music action plan published on Tuesday by industry body UK Music, the cross-party Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) committee inquiry heard a plea from the sector for the government to offer its own insurance scheme to protect festivals from bankruptcy, as the new pandemic lockdown harms consumer confidence ahead of the summer season.

Industry witnesses also asked the government to confirm an indicative date when it anticipated mass gatherings would be possible, to help assess viability for 2021 festivals. “The public target from ministers is 2m vaccines a week,” said Jamie Njoku-Goodwin, chief executive at UK Music. “If you have that information you should be able to calculate some kind of roadmap.”

A smaller festival season was “inevitable” in 2021, said Anna Wade, director of communications and strategy for Hampshire’s Boomtown, but possible with government support along with vaccination and continued mass testing.

A government-backed insurance scheme was the “most critical factor” regarding the planning of festivals, said Paul Reed, chief executive at the Association of Independent Festivals. Event organisers are operating on the understanding that commercial insurance for Covid 19-related cancellations is unlikely to exist until 2022, he said.

Reed outlined to MPs a potential scenario this year whereby festivals cancel “early and en masse” owing to a lack of insurance, yet public health “drastically improves” over the spring, generating “a certain level of confidence” in festivals taking place – resulting in demand without supply.

A government-backed insurance scheme would benefit supply chains, local economies, and British taxpayers, MPs were told. Festivals bring £1.76bn in value to the British economy each year, supporting 85,000 jobs.

“The UK has the biggest festival market globally,” said Sacha Lord, co-creator of Parklife and the Warehouse Project, and night-time economy adviser for Greater Manchester. “We’re proud of that. Music’s one of our biggest exports. If we don’t take place in 2021, I think the vast majority will disappear.” Read from source….