UK music festivals could be cancelled this month, promoters tell MPs

This year’s UK music festivals could be cancelled before the end of January, promoters have told MPs.

The UK government’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee began an inquiry into the future of festivals yesterday (5th), alongside the organisers of Parklife and Boomtown, to discuss the likelihood of events going ahead in 2021.

The initial open hearing welcomed the likes of UK Music CEO Jamie Njoku-Goodwin and Sacha Lord, Night Time Economy Adviser for Greater Manchester and Parklife festival founder, who shared that his event has already booked over 250 artists for this summer’s festival. Ahead of the hearing, Njoku-Goodwin shared a UK Music report dubbed Let The Music Play: Save Our Summer, which breaks down the importance of live music, the devestating impact of COVID-19 on the sector, how to recover, and the economic and health risks of getting the sector back up and running.

Lord described this year as “decemating”, for both Parklife and his Manchester rave event Warehouse Project, and when asked what was needed from the government, Anna Wade, Communications & Strategy Director for Boomtown Fair said that it was essential to work alongside the government to make events happen safetly this year.

As part of the hearing, Lord also presented five key measures that festivals would need to take place in 2021, comprised of a target date for finalisation of the event to work toward, a government-backed coronavirus cancellation insurance policy, an extension of VAT continuing for three years, an extension for business relief rates, and more furlough support until events can return to full capacity.

The speakers at the hearing advised MPs that if the above is not implimented, many festivals will be forced to cancel before summer even begins due to losses, with smaller festivals facing even bigger financial pressures. 

You can watch back the full discussion here, and read UK Music’s recent report here.

Elsewhere this week, Glastonbury’s Emily Eavis has denied claims the festival has been cancelled for 2021. Responding to comments made in a BBC Radio 5 Live interview by Spice Girls’ Melanie Brown — AKA Mel B — the festival’s co-organiser, Eavis, jumped onto Twitter to quickly reiterate that a formal decision has yet to be made on whether to pull this year’s weekender.

Glastonbury has been among the most vocal forces calling for UK government support with coronavirus insurance to help protect against cancellations and postponements this summer. As of Tuesday 5th January, the UK has gone back into a national lockdown which will run until mid-February at the earliest in a bid to curb surging COVID-19 infections. Elsewhere, in New Zealand tens of thousands have been attending festivals as life continues to return to something like normality, with new cases of the virus now numbering less than 80 across the country. 

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