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MPs urge Rishi Sunak to extend insurance schemes to save summer festivals

The crowd at Glastonbury (Yui Mok/PA)
The crowd at Glastonbury (Yui Mok/PA)

Chancellor Rishi Sunak must act to save summer festivals and live music events or face them disappearing, MPs have warned.

The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee has written to the Chancellor to ask him to extend Government-backed insurance schemes to such events.

MPs cautioned that organisers and investors are unable to risk repeating losses sustained in 2020, unless events can be insured against cancellation and urged the Government to extend the underwriting schemes already offered to the film and television industries.

Live events resumption
Glastonbury in 2019 (Yui Mok/PA)

The call has been supported by more than 100 music industry signatories including the Musicians’ Union, The Ivors Academy and the Music Venue Trust.

The committee is currently holding an inquiry into the future of UK music festivals and examining what support is needed in order for summer festivals to take place.

Earlier this week MPs heard from festival organisers on the need for further support and Government-backed cancellation insurance for events as organisers said the UK’s music festival landscape faces a “grave” future if the 2021 season is cancelled,

Sacha Lord, co-founder of Manchester’s Parklife, said workers would permanently move to other industries and smaller festivals would disappear in the wake of more cancellations amid Covid-19.

Parklife 2015 – Heaton Park Manchester – Day 2
Parklife in Manchester in 2015 (Katja Ogrin/PA)

Anna Wade, communications and strategy director of Boomtown Fair – held on the Matterley Estate near Winchester – told MPs that large and grassroots music events would be in “absolutely dire straits” financially if restrictions remained by the summer.

Julian Knight MP, chair of the committee, said: “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.

“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.

“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.”

In 2019, festivals added £1.76 billion in gross value to the economy, with almost one in three Brits watching Glastonbury on TV.

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