Further summer festivals face cancellation
Monday, 21 June 2021
cropredyFairport’s Cropredy Convention is scheduled for 12-14 August
UK -Following the government’s latest decision to delay lifting of restrictions, organisers of the remaining summer festivals have said that cancellation is inevitable unless Covid cancellation insurance is made available.
Several major festivals, including Glastonbury and BST Hyde Park, have already been axed for the second year running. Many more followed suit after the government announced lockdown restrictions would be extended until 19 July. Events like the Boomtown Fair and the Deer Shed festival said the lack of an insurance scheme was a key factor in their decision to cancel.
Peter Gabriel has warned he may have to cancel this year's Womad Festival, unless the government helps organisers get insurance, while Gareth Williams, organiser of Fairport’s Cropredy Convention says festivals have been put in “a very difficult position”.
“The increasing number of cases of the Delta variant and the announcement of a four-week delay to Step 4 has placed all remaining festivals this summer in a very difficult position,” says Williams, “but we are not giving up yet!
“Whilst Her Majesty’s Government say they are confident about removing social distancing restrictions on 19 July, our industry has still been unable to obtain Covid cancellation insurance. This places us at serious risk if we commit to going ahead only to be forced to cancel at a later date. We remain hopeful that the Treasury will step in soon and help rescue the summer for festivals.
“The situation at Cropredy is that we are going to wait a further two weeks before making a final decision on 28 June. We cannot leave it any later than that. For now, we are still moving forward and will continue to monitor the situation. The festival associations such as the AIF and the AFO will continue to lobby HMG on our behalf for cancellation insurance. The work they have done for our industry throughout the pandemic has been extraordinary and we are extremely grateful to them.
“We have always been committed to delivering a safe festival for everyone involved and this remains our priority and while the cases of the Delta variant remain this high, the likelihood of a move to Step 4 remains a hope rather than a certainty. However, HMG are confident which gives us cause for optimism.”
"Commercial insurance has run a mile, effectively, and you can understand why," Peter Gabriel told BBC Radio 4's Today programme, "so if we're trying to restore cultural life and normality we need a bit of help here. There's too much uncertainty for most festival promoters to take the risk." Asked if Womad would have to consider cancelling without insurance, he replied: "I think we have to".
"We've been faced with bankruptcy on two occasions previously and if we're trying to secure the future of the festival, which is very important to us, and our staff, we can't risk sinking it this year,” concluded Gabriel.
The organiser of the Latitude Festival, Melvin Benn said he was "very certain" it would go ahead this summer. The four-day event is due to be held at Henham Park in Suffolk from 23 July - four days after the government expects to lift all limits on social contact.
"I'm very certain that [Latitude] will be going ahead,” said Benn. "We've been given a terminus date by the prime minister and I can see no reason why we shouldn't be planning to go ahead from the 19th onwards. We are now of the view that we need to be told not to go ahead as opposed to where we were, which was waiting to be told that we could go ahead."
(Jim Evans)

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