Britain’s beloved festivals take a big ol’ blow

Photography Elaine Constantine, taken from The Face August 1996

It’s been announced by the Association of Independent Festivals that a quarter of independent festivals have been cancelled over Covid insurance fears. Booooo!

Listen up, festival eds. More than a quarter of the UK’s music festivals have been cancelled this year, over a lack of Covid-19 insurance to cover them if things go tits up. This is a result of the government’s hesitance to provide a safety net, recent research has found.

The Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) – a non-profit association and the UK’s leading festival representative body – has been tracking festivals supposedly taking place this summer. But they’ve found that 26 per cent of festivals with a capacity of more than 5,000 have been cancelled by their organisers, due to fears of last-minute cancellations caused by changing government guidelines or increased Covid cases. In these instances, the festivals wouldn’t be covered by insurance, even after shelling out big money to put on a big show for us live-music-starved citizens.

The news comes a few weeks after Boomtown Fair and 2000 Trees announced their cancellations, after the AIF predicted an uncertain future for this year’s summer field-frolicking in March.

For months now, we have been warning [the] government that the UK’s 2021 festival season would be quickly eroded if they failed to back their own roadmap out of lockdown and act on Covid-related cancellation insurance,” Paul Reed, the AIF’s chief executive, said in a statement. That danger is now coming to pass, with over a quarter of festivals having cancelled already this year.”

Without a safety net, independent promoters cannot begin to confidently invest in their events. They currently have no protection should a Covid-related issue result in the cancellation of their festival. If government-backed insurance is off the table, festival organisers deserve to know what the government proposes as an alternative to prevent the widespread collapse of the festival season.”

Over the weekend, social distancing was in the bin at a rave with 5000 attendees held in Liverpool. As part of the government’s trial, it monitored the safest and most efficient way to resume mass gatherings come 21st June, when clubs, concerts and large-scale arenas will hopefully reopen after a year of closure. It will be a similar story at the Brit Awards on 11th May, when guests will be asked to provide a negative Covid test prior to entering the arena.

But it’s not all sad. Reading and Leeds, Parklife and Green Man Festival have all announced plans to still go ahead. Getcha tickets and join the end-of-GCSE appenins, you old fart.

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