Large-scale live events will begin cancelling within days if the UK government does not agree to underwrite a protective insurance scheme, reports The Times.
The government has been warned by organisers that they will be forced to pull the plug on planned events if no security for covering costs in case of COVID-forced cancellation is offered.
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According to insurance brokers, it would cost the state as little as £250 million to guarantee events such as festivals can plan to go ahead, and these could be worth billions to the UK economy if they do take place.
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The Dutch government has set up a cancellation fund of at least €300 million to allow event organisers to plan for the second half of 2021, and last December Germany announced a similar €2.5 billion event cancellation fund.
The UK music events industry received a major boost when festivals began selling out at record speeds and organisers were hopeful cancellation cover would be included in the recent Spring budget, but this was not forthcoming.
Julian Knight MP, chairman of the Commons digital, culture, media and sport committee, called the UK Treasury’s refusal to back such a scheme “inane”, adding that organisers “need the confidence to put plans in place and go ahead and lead to a summer of fun rather than a summer of none”.
Knight claimed there is “quite a lot of support” for an insurance scheme in government, but “it is the chancellor that has stopped it”.
He also revealed that the government had agreed to insure pilot test events planned to go ahead to test COVID-19 protocols, such as the two club nights planned to take place in Liverpool, which he said evidences a “market failure”, with insurers unwilling to provide COVID-induced cancellation insurance.
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Paul Reed, CEO of the Association of Independent Festivals, said more than 90 per cent of its membership feels it cannot hold events this year without cover, and warned The Times events would begin being cancelled within days due to financial commitments needing to be confirmed far in advance.
Within hours of Reed’s comments, Northamptonshire's Shambala Festival (pictured), which attracts around 15,000 attendees each year, cancelled for the second year running, with organisers stating that a “lack of government-backed insurance leaves us no choice”.
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Jamie Njoku-Goodwin, chief executive of UK Music, said in a seminar hosted by the Let Live Thrive campaign that the “market failure is going to lead to a wave of cancellations”, adding: “It is also bad for the taxpayer. Lots of money has been spent supporting the sector. This is a way of getting away from government support. But the billions of pounds that could be generated for the economy will not happen.”
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden MP said last month that when there is more certainty about reopening of large-scale events, “the more we can have discussions about the insurance point”.
[Via: The Times]
Patrick Hinton is Mixmag's Digital Editor, follow him on Twitter
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