More than a quarter of UK music festivals cancelled over insurance fears

Independent festivals body says more events could be called off if action on policies is not reviewed

More than a quarter of music festivals due to take place in the UK this year have been cancelled as a result of government inaction on event insurance, research has found.

According to the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF), which has been tracking festivals taking place in Britain this year, 26% of all festivals with a capacity of more than 5,000 people have been cancelled by their organisers.

The AIF has projected that more than three-quarters (76%) of the remaining festivals could be called off imminently if action regarding cancellation insurance policies of large-scale events is not reviewed.

A further 72% of AIF members have also said that if their festivals do not take place this year, they will require financial support if they are to return in 2022.

Music festivals including Boomtown Fair, BST Hyde Park and Glastonbury have all confirmed they will not be taking place this year due to the uncertainty caused by the pandemic, with Boomtown Fair citing concerns regarding insurance in its cancellation announcement.

The AIF had previously warned the government that many festival organisers will need assurances relating to financial help, as events that are due to take place in July and August will need to commit to non-refundable costs by the end of May if they are to go ahead.

Paul Reed, the chief executive of AIF, said: “For months now, we have been warning 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. 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 government proposes as an alternative to prevent the widespread collapse of the festival season.”

Pilot events have been taking place as part of a government trial to gather evidence on how large-scale concerts and festivals can run safely as coronavirus restriction ease, with 5,000 guests attending a concert in Liverpool.

A spokesperson from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said: “More than £34m from our unprecedented culture recovery fund has supported festivals including Glastonbury, Bath international comedy festival, Boomtown and Shambala.

“As part of our roadmap for reopening all sectors in a phased and safe way, we held an outdoor test event for live music at Sefton Park in Liverpool last week to explore how we can reopen festivals.

“We are aware of the wider concerns about securing indemnity for live events and are exploring what further support we may provide.”


Tobi Thomas

The GuardianTramp

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