MPs and music industry sign letter calling on chancellor to save festivals

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MPs and over 100 music industry voices have put their names to an open letter calling on Chancellor Rishi Sunak to provide a better “safety net” for music festivals to stop them from being lost forever.

This week saw a Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee being told that this summer’s festivals could be cancelled as soon as this month without government support and assurances regarding insurance, funding, the vaccine and mass-testing. It is feared that if festivals suffer another summer of cancellations many of them will collapse and won’t be able to afford to ever return.

Now, the DCMS committee of MPs has written to the Chancellor asking him to extend government-backed coronavirus insurance schemes – which are currently being offered to the film and television industries – to festivals and live music events in order to secure their future. This comes after Glastonbury asked the government for similar support last month.

In the letter, which you can read below, it is argued that “without insurance, the events we know and love simply won’t take place this  year – vaccine or no vaccine”.

“The Government is telling us that life should be getting back to normal by the summer but unless it can provide a safety net, it will be a summer without festivals,” said DCMS Committee Chair Julian Knight MP. “The industry says that without government-backed insurance, many festivals and live music events just won’t happen because organisers can’t risk getting their fingers burnt for a second year.

“The Committee has heard from festival organisers that this is a matter of urgency. Insurance must be the first step in unlocking the huge contribution that festivals make to our economy, protecting not only the supply chains, but the musicians who rely on them for work.”

He added: “The Government already offers a level of cover to the film and television industries, now is the time to extend support to other creative industries or risk losing some of our best loved and world-renowned festivals.”

Foals headline Truck Festival, 2019

Read the full letter below:

“Dear Chancellor,

“Festivals, live performance and live music are the lifeblood of the UK entertainment industry, providing a huge contribution to our cultural landscape  and our economy. In 2019 alone, the gross value added to the economy by  festivals was £1.76 billion, and almost 1 in 3 Britons watched Glastonbury on TV.  Live music is also a major reason why people visit the UK’s nations and regions:  in 2019 music tourists spent £460 million across the Midlands alone and  sustained more than 45,000 jobs nationwide.

“Planning for this year’s festivals, live performances and events is taking place  now, and while the vaccine rollout is cause for optimism, organisers need  confidence that this work and investment will not go to waste. Central to that  confidence is insurance.

“Without insurance, the events we know and love simply won’t take place this  year – vaccine or no vaccine. Sustaining losses like those we’ve seen in 2020 for  another year isn’t an option, and hundreds of businesses in the events supply  chain have already been forced to fold. The Government has backed insurance for  the film and television industry to the tune of £500million. It’s now time to do  this for other creative industries.

“There are a number of forms this could take. One of these requires no upfront  contribution from the Government and utilises the existing Pool Re structure,  developed in response to unpredictable and devastating acts of terrorism. This  would leave Treasury with a maximum liability of £1.5billion and could be  adapted to cover a range of sectors – including hospitality, sports, and leisure, as  well as festivals, live performances and events.

“What’s clear is that insurance is of the utmost importance when it comes to  getting our economy going again across the whole of the UK. Whatever form it  takes, businesses need to be able to access reliable insurance schemes to get back  on track. Government underwriting is the only way this will be possible.

“We call on you to act now and back the UK’s renowned events, music, festivals,  hospitality and theatres, to name but a few, so that livelihoods are saved and  people have something to look forward to in summer 2021 and beyond.”

The letter has been signed by MPs on the DCMS committee, as well as over 100 members and bodies from the music industry including the Music Venue Trust, Association of Festival Organisers, Featured Artists Coalition, Night Time Industries Association, PRS For Music, #WeMakeEvents, UK Music and the Ivors Academy.

UK Music shared a new report, Let the Music Play: Save Our Summer 2021, this week outlining their recommendations for how to restart the UK’s live music industry once it is safe to do so with government support. The hearing also heard of how Brexit is threatening the UK’s “talent pipeline”, as well as the country’s access to European artists.

Meanwhile, Isle Of Wight Festival boss John Giddings has suggested a plan for live crew workers and music venues to come together for a mass roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccine in order to help life return to normality and to allow festivals to take place.

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