Deer Shed Festival becomes latest event to cancel after government fails to back insurance

Organisers say the lack of insurance was a "hurdle" they were unable to clear

Yorkshire’s Deer Shed Festival has become the latest outdoor event to announce its cancellation after the government failed to back up festival insurance against coronavirus.

The cancellation comes days after Boomtown and Barn On The Farm confirmed their cancellation in the last week, with both festivals stating that they faced a huge financial risk if COVID was to prevent them from going ahead in any capacity without insurance.

Deer Shed was originally set to welcome the likes of James and Stereolab from July 30 – August 1, but said that the lack of insurance remained a “hurdle” they were unable to clear.

Advertisement

“Earlier in the year, we were hopeful a government backed COVID insurance scheme would be in place, but we now have no reason to believe it will be, despite frantic industry lobbying,” they said in a statement.

The event will now be postponed until 2022, with all ticket-holders invited to hold on to their tickets until then.

Yesterday, the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) and Reading and Leeds Festivals boss Melvin Benn both called on the government to offer festival insurance.

“AIF has been warning and providing evidence to the Government for over six months on the urgent need for intervention on insurance. It is an enormous risk for any independent festival to commit to upfront, non-refundable costs and very difficult to plan with confidence in the absence of insurance. The average cost of staging an independent festival is over £6m,” said AIF CEO Paul Reed.

Benn added: “The worry about insurance is not confined to the smaller festivals, I have that worry too. We’re all working really tightly together on all of this – the big festivals and small festivals are being very collaborative.”

Advertisement

While the UK is yet to lay out insurance, the Dutch government has vowed to back up their festivals as part of a €300m scheme which was confirmed in February.

Responding to the calls, a government spokesperson told NME yesterday: “More than £34 million from our unprecedented Culture Recovery Fund has supported festivals including Boomtown, Shambala, Glastonbury and Deer Shed Festival.

“We are aware of the wider concerns about securing indemnity for live events and are exploring what further support we may provide. Last week, we announced a new event through our Events Research Programme. This event will test how we can reopen festivals, with an outdoor music event at Sefton Park in Liverpool on May 2.

“Our roadmap provides a clear plan for reopening all sectors in a phased, safe way and we are supporting businesses and organisations to prepare for this.”

Advertisement
Advertisement