Festivals face 'another lost summer' without government safety net, MPs say

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People at music festivalImage source, Getty Images

UK music festivals face "another lost summer" due to the government's refusal to back insurance for events at risk, a committee of MPs has found.

A report into the sector's future said the government should provide a safety net for live events set to take place after 21 June.

Several major festivals have been axed for the second year running.

The government said it was "continuing to work flat out to support festivals and live events".

Glastonbury and BST Hyde Park will not take place this year, but others, like Latitude and Download, are currently scheduled to go ahead.

The latter was called off in March but has since been resurrected as a government test event, albeit with a significantly reduced capacity.

On 21 June, the government hopes to move to the final stage of its roadmap for lifting lockdown.

Restrictions on large events such as music festivals will be lifted if lockdown relaxations go ahead as planned.

But according to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) committee, the government "has ruled out offering any support before all restrictions on the roadmap are lifted".

This, it said in a 42-page report published on Saturday, "would be simply be too late for festivals this summer" given the long lead-up times involved.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Glastonbury was cancelled this year but streamed artists in a 'Live at Worthy Farm' event instead

Julian Knight MP, chair of the DCMS committee, claimed music festivals had been treated "as the poor relation" by the government.

"Events need to know now whether the government will back them, or they simply won't take place this year," he continued.

Many of the festivals that have already cancelled cited the inability to obtain cancellation insurance as a factor in their decision.

Others have moved to seemingly safer dates later in the summer, with the August bank holiday weekend proving particularly popular.

Glastonbury organisers have secured a licence for a one-off concert in September that up to 50,000 people could attend.

The regular festival normally takes place in June and attracts 200,000 people to Worthy Farm near Pilton, Somerset.

A government spokesperson told BBC News: "We are continuing to work flat out to support festivals and live events.

"Our Events Research Programme has explored how festivals can get back up and running safely and festival organisers have received more than £34 million from our unprecedented Culture Recovery Fund, with more support on the way.

"We will continue to look at what assistance may be required as we move cautiously but irreversibly through the roadmap, including looking at the issue of indemnity cover."

'Fantastic showcase'

Meanwhile, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has launched the competition to find the place that will be the UK's City of Culture in 2025.

The winning city or town will be announced in spring 2022 and will inherit the mantle from Coventry, UK City of Culture 2021.

The title, first held by Derry-Londonderry in 2013, is awarded every four years. Up to six places will be longlisted before the winner is revealed.

Mr Dowden said the contest offered successful entrants "a fantastic showcase" that would "drive economic regeneration and boost local pride".

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