INSURANCE ISSUE DOOMS U.K. FESTIVALS

More festival cancellations could be on the horizon this summer in the U.K. due to a lack of government action toward an indemnity scheme, according to speakers at a crisis summit. The Shambala Festival is the latest event to be called off.

Speaking at Wednesday’s online Live Events Crisis Summit, the CEO of the Association of Independent Festivals, Paul Reed, said that the lack of an insurance scheme means this summer’s festival season remains in jeopardy, citing a member survey that said 92.5% of respondents would not go ahead without insurance.

The CEO of UK Music, Jamie Njoku-Goodwin, told the session that the festival sector can’t play its “important role” in post-pandemic recovery without the issue of insurance being resolved. Should no action be taken, he predicted a wave of cancellations in the coming weeks.

The most recent cancellation is the 15k-capacity Shambala Festival, which has announced that it won’t take place this year due to the “uncertainty of the landscape.” A statement reads: “Without government-backed insurance, a last-minute cancellation would risk the very future of Shambala. That’s not a gamble we are willing to take.”

While organizers are "hopeful" that the U.K.'s roadmap out of lockdown will mean restrictions are lifted to enable events by mid-June, they point out that there's "still a very real possibility that social-distancing measures will still be in place," which would prove prohibitive. Other British festivals already called off include Glastonbury, BST Hyde Park and Bluedot.

Julian Knight MP, who led Wednesday’s session, pointed out that the film and TV sector has been offered a government-backed insurance arrangement, while the lack of one for the music industry risks festivals' “disappearing from the cultural landscape for good.”

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