Immediate action must be taken to save UK music festivals from yet another ‘lost’ to Covid, an all-party committee of MPs has said.

Ministers must create a government-backed festival insurance scheme as soon as possible, given their long lead times, a report by the Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee argued, saying that even now it would be too late for many events.

Another summer without income would not only cause many smaller festivals to disappear, but could threaten the long-term future of the industry, as companies in the supply chain also close and skilled specialist staff move on to other jobs. .

The problems were exacerbated by a lack of access to the government culture revival fund and the fact that no festivals were included in the series of pilot projects designed to test the viability of mass events, said the committee.

Music festivals have been “treated like the poor relation by the government,” said committee chair Conservative MP Julian Knight, despite the industry – which in a normal year hosts nearly 1,000 events – contributing to 1 , £ 76 billion to the UK economy and supporting 85,000 jobs.

“It has been very clear to us that the vast majority of music festivals do not have the financial resilience to cover the costs of another year of late cancellations,” he said.

“If the commercial insurance market does not intervene, ministers must do so, and urgently: Events must now know whether the government will support them, or they simply will not take place this year.” There is still time to get the music playing, but more room for excuses. “

The committee report warns that while the government’s plan to emerge from the lockdown includes the prospect of most distancing measures in England being removed on June 21, it is perhaps unclear whether that will happen for up to a week. before, which is far too late for festivals to plan. .

Among the events that will take place in early July, they will have paid 40% of their fees by June 14, and more than a quarter of festivals with a capacity of more than 5,000 have already been canceled for 2021.

The industry has been clamoring for months for an insurance plan similar to that offered to the film and television industries, which allowed production to restart earlier in the pandemic.

Despite this, the report says, the government “refused to take multiple opportunities to address the market failure in providing insurance for live events this summer and set the conditions to release the large contribution. economic and cultural contribution from festivals and their supply chains. “.

One long-term impact could be further industry consolidation, according to the report, with the replacement or buyout of smaller independent festivals by two large companies, Live Nation and AEG Presents, which already run nearly a third of the events with more than 5000 presences. This in turn could affect pricing and diversity, he added.

Another ripple effect of most festivals canceled this year could be what the report calls a ‘permanent skills gap’, with many companies providing services to festivals closing and staff or freelancers changing jobs. .

A government spokesperson said: “We continue to work hard to support festivals and live events. Our Events Research Program explored how festivals can safely get back on track and festival organizers have received over £ 34million from our unprecedented Culture Recovery Fund, with more support along the way.

“We will continue to examine what assistance may be needed as we move cautiously but irreversibly through the roadmap, including examining the issue of indemnity coverage.”

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