Festivals face “devastating consequences” without government insurance, report warns

Festivals across the UK have been forced to announce their cancellation after the government failed to back Covid insurance

Festivals face “devastating consequences” unless the government offers more support, a new report has warned.

The Public Accounts Committee has backed calls for live music events to receive greater support, days after Kendal Calling and Truck Festival announced the cancellation of their 2021 events due to the lack of government-backed coronavirus insurance.

The committee praised the government’s £1.57billion bailout scheme for cultural institutions, but also warned that festivals faced a “survival threat” unless ministers establish a fresh insurance scheme.

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However, the government has repeatedly ignored calls to implement an insurance scheme so festivals won’t face financial ruin should they be forced to cancel as a result of the pandemic.

Speaking in Parliament yesterday (March 23), the under-secretary of state for culture, Nigel Huddleston MP, stressed that the government was “aware of wider concerns about the industry, including insurance”.

“We are considering options, and we are taking those issues very seriously,” he added.

But Meg Hillier MP, Chair of the Public Accounts Committee, said the pandemic had “exposed just how poorly departments across Government understand the sectors that they oversee”.

“DCMS was clear that it ‘would not save every organisation’ but we are concerned about the impact of COVID-19 on those organisations vital to the culture sector – sound engineers, lighting and technical support,” she said.

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“The government must urgently consider support other than cash, such as insurance indemnity or parts of the sector risk as second summer of forced inactivity with all the devastating consequences to their survival.”

The new report on the Cultural Recovery Fund also highlighted that some organisations struggled to apply for funds, while many unsuccessful applicants were left in “perilous financial situations”.

Many venues which were successful in securing funding also claimed that the money was not distributed as quickly as the DCMS had previously promised.

Yesterday, (June 22), experts also told NME how the government is “pushing live music off a cliff-edge” and endangering the future of the industry by failing to publish the results of recent COVID event pilots or providing festivals with insurance.

Organisers of Kendal Calling also said their decision to pull the event earlier this week was “Heartbreaking” and “infuriating”.

Two major UK festivals did take place over the weekend, with Download Festival holding a test pilot event and Bigfoot putting on a socially distanced festival.

Latitude Festival, which is due to take place from July 22-25, is also aiming to go ahead as planned next month.

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