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STATE OF PLAY: U.K. FESTIVALS
1/6/21

Several U.K. music festivals are considering canceling 2021 events, which could be ruinous in the long term, according to evidence heard at the first parliamentary inquiry into the future of British festivals on Tuesday.

The Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) CEO Paul Reed said festivals are rapidly reaching the point where a concrete decision on whether they can proceed with plans for 2021 will have to be made. With the U.K. in full lockdown now until at least mid-February, the summer season is looking precarious. 

At the inquiry, Boomtown Fair’s Anna Wade said festival organizers will be in “absolutely dire straits” financially should the season be canceled. Sacha Lord, co-founder of Parklife Festival said if the Government doesn’t help with cancellation insurance, “the vast majority” of festivals will disappear. Major festivals—Reading and Leeds, Glastonbury and Wireless among them—have all announced dates for 2021.

Similarly to the UK Music’s call for a Government plan issued Tuesday, AIF is calling for five key interventions from Government to support the festival sector’s safe return this year. The org wants a conditional start date, a reinsurance scheme and an extension to the reduced 5% cultural VAT on tickets. It also wants sector-specific financial support until the industry recovers and premises license fee rollovers from local authorities.

“Given that festivals take at least six months to plan, this is absolutely the right time to be having this conversation,” Reed said. “Key decisions do need to be made now to sustain the prospect of a U.K. festival industry this year and beyond.”

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