Independent music festivals might never recover from lockdown unless urgent Government action is taken, the sector has warned.
The UK could face a festival “wasteland” in 2021 and beyond, according to its trade body, which says festivals are a “defining part of British culture”.
The call comes after festivals from Glastonbury to LoveBox were axed this year.
The Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) warned that 92% of member festival businesses could collapse under potential refund requests.
It said that the Government is not taking “meaningful action” to protect them and wants it to put in place “measures that could save the independent festival sector”.
It also calls for clear guidance about when festivals will be able to operate, as well as any social distancing measures needed for public safety.
This is not a temporary shutdown of business - it is an entire year of income and trade wiped outPaul Reed, AIF
Chief executive Paul Reed said festivals “need urgent support now and ongoing support after lockdown ends and restrictions are eased.
“This is not a temporary shutdown of business – it is an entire year of income and trade wiped out,” he said.
“If support is not offered throughout the autumn, then the sector will face widespread job losses that will seriously inhibit its ability to deliver events in 2021.
“There is no safety net for independent festivals, many of which have fallen between the cracks of current Government support measures such as loans and grants.
“UK festivals are not only an intrinsic, defining part of British culture, but also an economic powerhouse that generates hundreds of millions for the economy – we urge Government to recognise them as such.
“Next year’s festival season will hopefully offer much-needed relief after a very difficult time for the country. But, for now, these independent businesses need to survive. Otherwise, every year from now could be a fallow year for independent festivals, for the emerging artists they provide a platform for, and the local economies across the UK that they generate income for.”
If large, organised gatherings are going to be last in line as part of a phased re-opening of business, ongoing support must also be phased accordingly, it says.
The festival sector at large could face potential refund requests of up to £800 million this summer, it says.
Many costs are not covered by insurance for cancellation related to Covid-19.
Members of the AIF include Meltdown, Boardmasters, Kendal Calling and One Love. Glastonbury is not a member.