UK festivals could be forced to cancel 2021 events without Government insurance

The Association of Independent Festivals warns of a "final countdown" for the beleaguered sector

Independent festivals across the UK have warned that they could be forced to cancel their 2021 events if they fail to receive Government-backed insurance and VAT intervention by the end of March.

Ahead of the Spring Budget this Wednesday (March 3), the Association of Independent Festivals warns that festival organisers face a “final countdown” as they prepare to decide whether to assign significant costs if they are to hold events this year.

But in order to do so, they say that the festival sector still needs Covid-19 cancellation insurance, in the event that the road-map out of lockdown is delayed and prevents them from taking place.

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According to the AIF, a staggering 92.5 percent of its members say that they cannot stage events without insurance – which is described as “vital, not optional”.

Research from the AIF claims that a festival taking place in early July faces the prospect of dishing out 40% of total costs by June 14 – the date when Government will make a final decision on Step 4 of the roadmap.

20 percent of the costs will already be paid in April – including essential infrastructure such as licensing, policing and medical provisions.

Festival crowd
The festival crowd at Lovebox (Picture: Getty)

But, the AIF says, a Government-backed insurance scheme will allow planning to accelerate from the moment it is announced.

AIF CEO Paul Reed said: “The Prime Minister has set out a roadmap and a ‘no earlier than’ date for festivals, and audiences have responded, demonstrating a huge appetite to be back in the fields this summer. But we need Government interventions on insurance and VAT before the end of this month when festivals will need to decide whether they can commit to serious amounts of upfront capital.

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“Now that we have a ‘no earlier than’ date, insurance is the last remaining barrier to planning. We know that Government is aware of the insurance issue and AIF has provided evidence and data to support the case.

“Having injected huge consumer confidence, Government should intervene at this stage and ensure that our culture-defining independent festivals can mobilise and plan for this summer. With the cut-off point for many organisers at the end of the month, this really is the final countdown for many businesses.”

Elsewhere, the AIF is calling on the Government to extend the reduced VAT rate for three years, after it was slashed to 5 percent last year to support the long-term recovery of the sector.

It comes after the government outlined plans for England to gradually exit lockdown by the end of June.

In the wake of the announcement, events such as Reading & Leeds Festival, Parklife Festival and Green Man Festival have all announced plans to go ahead.

Live Nation has sold 170,000 tickets in the wake of the announcement, with Reading selling out entirely for 2021.

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