In December, British MPs raised concerns that most U.K. festivals would not return in 2021 without underwritten insurance. With the 2020 festival collapse brought on by COVID-19 leaving insurance companies leery of such gatherings, the Parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee (DCMS) has called upon Chancellor Rishi Sunak to offer government-backed insurance to organizers.
In a letter to the Chancellor, the DCMS Committee noted that 2019 saw festivals bring £1.76 billion to the economy. Tourists attending live music events spent £460 million, they said – enough to sustain 46,000 jobs.
“Planning for this year’s festivals, live performances and events is taking place now, and while the vaccine rollout is cause for optimism, organizers need confidence that this work and investment will not go to waste,” the Committee wrote. “Central to that confidence is insurance.”
The letter goes on to point out that the U.K. government has provided £500 million in insurance for the TV and film industries, arguing that the same must be done for festivals. The DCMS Committee suggested adapting the existing Pool Reinsurance scheme established after the 1992 IRA bombing of the Baltic Exchange building, but it didn’t rule out other approaches.
The DCMS Committee is not alone in warning of the dire implications for festivals without government aid. Emily Eavis, the daughter and co-organizer of Glastonbury Founder Michael Eavis, suggested last month that the government provide “direct financial support” to organizers of large-scale cultural gatherings.
The U.K. was the first to distribute COVID-19 vaccines in an attempt to curb the spread of the virus. At the time of writing, the country’s confirmed case total approaches 3 million with over 77,000 resulting deaths.
Image credit: Vishnu R