UK festivals ‘face wave of cancellations without Government insurance backing’

Trade groups for the live music sector said they have started to see a ‘steady stream’ of cancellations for summer events.

UK festivals ‘face wave of cancellations without Government insurance backing’

Music festivals, concerts and events planned for the summer could see “a wave of cancellations” if the Government continues to refuse to back insurance plans for the sector, the industry has warned.

After an almost two-year break since the last summer festival season, operators are witnessing strong demand from customers desperate to snap up tickets for events.

However, trade groups for the live music sector said they have started to see a “steady stream” of cancellations for summer events because of continued uncertainty surrounding the pandemic.

Insurance firms have therefore widely rejected operators looking to hold events this summer.

Live events resumption
Glastonbury is among festivals to postpone their events until 2022 (Yui Mok/PA)

However, despite calls from the sector for the past six months, the UK Government has continued to push back against calls for similar support.

Greg Parmley, chief executive of industry lobby group LIVE, said: “These events take months to plan with large upfront costs, so without the development of a Government-backed insurance scheme now, the summer is going to time out for many organisers.

“With other countries starting to step up and provide these schemes, the UK is getting left behind.

“We are desperate to get back to work safely and provide world-leading music events this summer but this simply won’t be possible without this further, vital financial support from Government.”

He added: “This ongoing uncertainty and lack of clarity is feeding the steady stream of recent cancellations.”

The group pointed to the Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival near Inverness, which announced that plans to host the event in July had been postponed in an update on Thursday.

“We have been working closely with the rest of the UK event industry in lengthy conversations with Westminster Government to provide an insurance policy for our industry,” the festival said in a statement.

Industry bodies have warned that uncertainty over whether distancing restrictions will be in place after the June 21 reopening date for all events is still a cause for concern.

According to the Association of Independent Festivals, the average cost of staging a festival is more than £6 million, with a significant amount of these costs needing to be paid weeks in advance.

UK Music chief executive Jamie Njoku-Goodwin said: “The financial risks involved in planning a major event without proper insurance is too great for the vast majority of organisers to bear.

“The consequences are already playing out.

“Despite the huge success of the vaccine rollout, and the optimism from ministers about a ‘great British summer’, we’ve already seen major festivals that should have taken place this summer cancel.

“Without viable insurance options, I fear we will see a wave of cancellations of festivals in the coming weeks.”

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