UK Festivals at serious risk due to COVID-19

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AIF warns of Independent festival wipeout in 2021 without Government help

The future of the vast majority of UK festivals is in serious danger according to The Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) if the Govenment does not take decisive action to support the sector.

According to UK Music’s ‘Music by numbers’ 2019 report, a total of 4.9m people attended a UK festival in 2018 (compared to 2.7m in 2012). The UK live music sector’s contribution to the economy grew to £1.1bn in 2018 (a 10% rise on 2017) and a total of 30,529 people were employed in the live music sector in 2018, a rise of 7% on 2017. 

The festival sector could be facing potential refunds of up to £800m in total this summer. It is predicted that at least 90% of all UK festivals will not take place in 2020.

92% of AIF festival organisers have said that their firms are at risk without Government intervention, with the effects of lockdown and social distancing likely to result in businesses collapsing under refund requests.

A recent member survey has also revealed that the sector could be facing redundancies of 59% on average and will lose over half of its workforce between September 2020 and February 2021 without support.

To date, no AIF members have been able to successfully access the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans Scheme.

AIF’s CEO, Paul Reed, said “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.”

Read the AIF’s full findings and recommendations on how the government can support the UK’s independent festivals here.


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