- 15 Jun 21
"Any measures that prevent festivals from operating fully have to be counterbalanced with effective support to ensure businesses can survive," says Paul Reed, CEO of the Association of Independent Festivals.
Following Boris Johnson's decision to delay lifting Covid-19 restrictions – postponing the date from June 21 to July 19 – the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) have issued a statement, calling for "urgent intervention from Government."
The AIF are the UK’s leading national not-for-profit festival trade association, representing over 90 UK music festivals. They state that "without Government action, most of the UK’s remaining 2021 festivals will be cancelled."
"As things stand, more than a third of this year’s festivals have already been cancelled due to the pandemic and the uncertain environment created by the Government’s refusal to back an insurance scheme for the sector," their statement continues.
According to the AIF's research, with the four-week delay of the lifting of restrictions, 93% of remaining UK festivals with a capacity of over 5,000 could still go ahead this summer – "but not without insurance," they say.
They note that the majority of costs for a festival are "incurred a month before the event, and the average cost of staging a festival is over £6 million."
In a recent survey of AIF members, it was found that, "in the event of cancellation, a third (33%) of respondents have no cash reserves to use to survive another lost year of income."
"Those that do have reserves, have an average of £59,909," the statement resumes. "However, individual costs within the financial year average £120,856. Average costs are therefore more than double average reserves. In addition, festival businesses have spent an average of £345,417 on surviving up to this point. If their festivals cannot take place, some respondents will face insolvency within weeks, and 34% of respondents state they would need to make redundancies of 75% or more, starting from mid-July."
In the event of mass cancellations, the AIF state that UK festivals will need a "swift and comprehensive rescue package and targeted contingency fund that can be accessed from July 2021 to save businesses and ensure they can survive until the 2022 sales cycle."
Paul Reed, CEO of the AIF, has noted that the association "fully understands the rationale for delaying Step 4 of the lockdown roadmap" – but adds that "any measures that prevent festivals from operating fully have to be counterbalanced with effective support to ensure businesses can survive."
“For those festival organisers that still have a chance of staging events after July 19, that support is Government-backed insurance, which will give them the confidence to continue planning and commit the significant costs that entails," he continues. "Ultimately, it is a political choice if Government does not support the sector with insurance at this stage, pushing festival businesses towards another cliff edge.
“We also must not forget those festivals that have already been forced to cancel or will do so as a result of the delay – they will need a swift and comprehensive financial package to help them survive until the 2022 sales cycle.
“AIF and its industry partners remain ready and willing to work with the Government on the details of a support package that will save British businesses.”