The Week in Light & Sound
Tuesday, 1 June 2021
Another Lost Summer - 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, but the government claims it is "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. 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 continues.
Download Returns - This summer's Download music festival will take place after all, despite having been called off in March. The three-day event is being resurrected in June as a government test event to examine how COVID-19 transmission takes place in crowds. The capacity will be significantly reduced - down from 111,000 to just 10,000 - but organisers say "moshing will be allowed".
Headliners will include Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes and Enter Shikari. Bullet For My Valentine is also taking top billing, with Frank Turner, Creeper, While She Sleeps, Twin Atlantic, Yonaka, Employed to Serve and Neck Deep also in the line-up.
The Download pilot will take place in Donington Park, Leicestershire, from 18-20 June. There will be no day tickets for the scaled-back event, with all attendees expected to camp for the duration of the event. They will also be required to take COVID-19 tests before and after the festival, and provide proof of a negative test to gain entry. However, they will not be socially distanced or required to wear face coverings once on site.
Live in Wales - Live music can return immediately in Wales, it has been announced. The Welsh government confirmed performances could begin again but the change did not apply to nightclubs. Venues will need risk assessments in line with hospitality and performing guidance. They will need to limit groups to a maximum of six people from six households, use one-way systems and follow ventilation guidelines.
The change brings music performances in line with restaurants and theatres, which were able to open earlier in May. Further activities, such as events and festivals, will be considered in the next review.
Collective Culture - Groups of towns will be eligible to come together and make a collective bid for their area to be named the next UK City of Culture, the government has announced. As it launches the search for the next holder of the title, culture secretary Oliver Dowden confirmed expanded criteria for the 2025 competition, which will be open both to cities and groups of towns entering for their region. This will widen the areas able to benefit from the scheme, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said.
The department has begun the competition for 2025, when a new winner will take over the UK City of Culture title from Coventry 2021. It has also confirmed its continuation for 2029 and for further years. Dowden said: "UK City of Culture is a fantastic showcase of the huge impact culture has in towns and cities across the country. From Derry-Londonderry, to Hull and Coventry, previous winners have shown how the competition can deliver greater cultural participation, drive economic regeneration and boost local pride.
"I encourage towns and cities across the UK to put forward bids for 2025 and champion their local arts and culture scene. I’m also delighted to confirm the competition will run in future years, as a sign of our commitment to levelling up culture across the whole of the UK."
The scheme aims to use culture as a catalyst for "levelling up" areas across the UK and will also focus on using the arts as part of Covid-19 recovery efforts.
(Jim Evans)
1 June 2021

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