Festival promoters call for government-backed insurance scheme

Event organisers are concerned a lack of communicable disease insurance will prevent them from running festivals

Festival promoters are calling on the Federal Government to provide some form of insurance scheme so festivals can proceed when it is safe to do so.

As the ABC reports, festival promoters are concerned that, as the live entertainment sector recovers, a lack of communicable disease insurance will still prevent them from hosting major events.

When Bluesfest was cancelled earlier this year, the festival’s insurance policy, purchased five years ago, acted somewhat as a safety net, because they had “ticked the communicable disease box”.

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“What in particular caused us to tick that box (was) that there was an outbreak of gastro in the Byron Bay area at the time that we’d bought the policy, and our medical officers had advised it,” director Peter Noble told the ABC.

“All it meant was our ticket buyers were insured. It didn’t cover our profit or creditors. It covered that our ticket buyers would get their money back.”

However, Groovin The Moo’s Kathryn Holloway said promoters expect insurance premiums to jump as soon as festivals are allowed to proceed, with no option for communicable disease cover available.

“Even if we can get a lineup together that is Australian-only, and borders open up and crowd gathering rules permit, there is still the issue of insurance,” she said.

“Insurance companies won’t have COVID-19 or communicable disease as part of their policies. That means there’s a gap and no safety net for the promoter.

“The government needs to step in and provide us with an interruption fund.”

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The Australian Government is currently accepting applications for its $50million temporary interruption fund for film productions. The initiative was announced as part of its $250million relief package for the arts sector.

Speaking to the ABC, specialist insurance broker Ian Stack said it was possible to apply for communicable disease coverage before the pandemic, but it will be far less likely to do so now.

“It was something you could buy out for an extra premium,” he said.

“Unfortunately now that COVID-19 is a known risk, all the insurance companies are actually excluding communicable disease and not allowing it to be bought out.”

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