A report released by the Digital, Culture, Media and Sports Committee (DCMS) recommended that the government put in place a time-limited event cancellation insurance system to avoid a “wasted summer” for UK based music festivals.
The committee’s report, The future of UK music festivals, which was released on Saturday, May 29, 2021, urged ministers to provide a safety net for live events due to take place after June 21 – the latest step in Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s lockdown roadmap .
Currently, the government has refused to support insurance for events at risk of being canceled due to Covid-19 restrictions – so it has ruled out offering any support before all roadmap restrictions are lifted .
However, DCMS committee MPs say it would be “just too late” for festivals attempting to take place this summer and shows ministers have failed to adjust to the long delays involved in making it happen. large-scale events.
The report said: “Government-backed insurance is essential to mitigate Covid-19 risks for festival organizers and enable them to start planning, as the vast majority lack the financial resilience to cover costs. another year late. cancellations.
“Despite the events and insurance industries offering a range of solutions on the operation of such a program, the government has refused to take multiple opportunities to address the market failure in the provision of insurance for events. live this summer and set the conditions to unlock significant economic and cultural contribution from festivals and their supply chains.
“While there remains considerable uncertainty about the risks of new variants of Covid-19, the government’s plan to wait until all restrictions are lifted will simply be too late for festivals this summer.
“With restrictions on reduced capacity and socially distant external events already lifted, the government must act now.”
Treated like ‘poor relatives’
The main conclusions of the committee’s report are as follows:
- Further call on the government to introduce a time-limited insurance system for costs incurred by live events scheduled after June 21 that may need to be canceled if restrictions on Covid-19 persist.
- Despite the first positive data, MPs are not convinced that the events research program will fully provide the necessary evidence on multi-day festivals to lift all restrictions on live events from June 21.
- Ahead of the 2023 festival season, the government, local government associations and representatives of the festival industry should develop standardized environmental goals that local authorities must adopt when licensing festivals.
- Ahead of this summer’s festivals, the Home Secretary is expected to pass regulations under section of the Drug Abuse Act 1971 to allow organizations carrying out drug checks to operate legally.
DCMS committee chairman Julian Knight MP added that “music festivals have been treated like poor relatives by the government”.
He continued: “Despite the enormous economic and cultural contribution they make, few [music festivals] benefited from the Culture Recovery Fund and without our efforts the sector would have been excluded from the Safe Return of Audiences pilot events program.
“We have been told very clearly that the vast majority of music festivals do not have the financial resilience to cover the costs of another year of late cancellations.
“If the commercial insurance market does not step in, ministers must and urgently – events now need to know if the government will support them, or they simply will not take place this year.”
“We reiterate our call on the government to announce an insurance scheme to cover festival organizers if any events need to be canceled due to Covid-19 restrictions that continue beyond June 21. There is still time to get the music playing, but more room for excuses.
While the inclusion of a music festival in the government’s early pilots of the events research program is “strongly welcome,” the committee continued that “this effort would be in vain without an insurance solution for events at the event. – beyond June 21 ”.
The Events Research Program aims to examine the risk of transmission of Covid-19 through attending events and to explore ways to enable people to attend a range of events safely.
The program will explore how a combination of testing and non-pharmaceutical interventions can inform decisions about safely lifting restrictions at events.
The report states: “The lifting of all restrictions on live events remains heavily dependent on the events research program. Despite the initial positive data for some parameters, we are not confident pilots will provide the necessary evidence in time to lift all restrictions on live events from June 21.
“By the minister’s own admission, festivals are unique places and yet they were initially neglected in the first round of pilots. We warmly welcome the decision, following our questioning of the Minister, to conduct a festival-type pilot project at the beginning of May; however, a one-day event for 5,000 people does not cover the full range of UK festivals and therefore further pilot projects may be necessary.
“While our preference remains for a comprehensive sector insurance scheme, we recommend, in the absence of such a scheme, a targeted intervention that expands the research agenda into the events and responsibilities associated with a series of events. additional pilots, including festivals of different sizes. and genres, across the UK for the remainder of 2021. ”
The report found that in 2020, the majority of festivals were canceled due to Covid-19 restrictions, as industry revenues fell by 90%.
This year, more than a quarter of festivals with more than 5,000 seats, including Boomtown in Hampshire and Bluedot in Cheshire, have been canceled for an additional year.
Few festivals have benefited from government support for the creative industries, according to the report – only 8% of festivals applied for the first round of the Culture Recovery Fund, with successful festivals receiving just 1.3% of available grants.
Even so, some people who received assistance were still forced to cancel due to lack of insurance.