Organisers want clarity from the government - and soon.
MPs have been told by industry figures that the ‘the vast majority’ of UK music festivals could ‘disappear’ if they don’t go ahead this year.
The warning came from Sacha Lord, co-founder of Parklife festival, in a hearing with the Commons’ Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee on Tuesday morning.
With many large scale events current banned, festival organisers want a guarantee that the gatherings can go ahead this summer. Many have to book visas for bands months in advance, and secure insurance well ahead.
But Mr Lord also said festivals would not be able to go ahead at reduced capacity: “Social distancing doesn’t work at any of these events – we’re anticipating 80,000 [people]”. He added that the industry had been ‘decimated’ by coronavirus, but said he hoped most people would be vaccinated in time for the September event. One MP responded that this would be ‘highly unlikely’.
Anna Wade from Boomtown festival said that the consequences of festivals not going ahead again this year would be “grave” for the sector: “We only hold one event. That is one opportunity a year. That’s our product….Without that, we don’t have a company, essentially.”
Around three quarters of the employees of festival organisers and gig venues are currently on furlough, making it harder for firms to plan for the future, the i reports.
A spokesperson for UK Music, the industry body representing many festival organisers, said the industry needs notice about whether festivals can go ahead. He added: “The industry is also pioneering innovative techniques to reduce the risk of infection inside gig venues, by using UV light to deactivate airborne pathogens and introduce filters which continuously clean the air in enclosed spaces. These are not currently recognised by the UK Government as effective ways of making a venue “Covid-secure”.
A report last November warned that the UK music industry would halve in size due to Covid.
Meanwhile, tens of thousands of New Zealanders have attended festivals without having to socially distance, after the country successfully shut down the pandemic.
Watch the evidence session here.
Josiah Mortimer is co-editor of Left Foot Forward.
Image credit: CC
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