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Association of Independent Festivals Warns Of A ‘Festival Wasteland’ In The UK

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LONDON (CelebrityAccess) — The Association of Independent Festivals has sounded the alarm, warning that the United Kingdom could face an “independent festival wasteland” in 2021 and beyond without “decisive” help from the government.

According to the AIF, the festival sector at large could be on the hook for refunds up to £800m in total this summer, with more than 90% of the festivals scheduled for 2020 not taking place this year.

As well, festivals are a also grappling with the loss of investments that are not recoupable, with the average independent festival facing average expenses of £375,000, with 98.5% not covered by insurance for cancellation related to Covid-19, the AIF said.

A survey of independent festivals said that 92% of organizers said their firms face risk of dissolution as a result of the pandemic and its resultant shutdown of the live sector.

The survey also suggested that the 59% of the people employed in the festival sector may be out of work between September 2020 and February 2021 as businesses come unraveled amid the financial crisis.

As a result of these dire forecasts, the AIF has lobbied the UK Government for a range of measures to assist the sector, including clarity on eligibility for grants and loans, and rolling premises license fees over to 2021 for events that do not take place this year.

Other measures include continuing continued financial support for employees affected by the shutdowns and business support packages until the festival sector can begin planning for 2021.

AIF also called for clear guidance on when guidance about when festivals will be able to operate, and more details on what sort of social distancing measures will be required when events are allowed to resume.

AIF’s CEO Paul Beard said: “While the Government has been receptive to AIF’s counsel, it has not taken meaningful action to protect our sector. Single event festival companies are seasonal businesses.They need urgent support now and ongoing support after lockdown ends and restrictions are eased.This is not a temporary shutdown of business – it is an entire year of income and trade wiped out. If support is not offered throughout the autumn, then the sector will face widespread job losses that will seriously inhibit its ability to deliver events in 2021.”

“There is no safety net for independent festivals, many of which have fallen between the cracks of current Government support measures such as loans and grants. For example, zero percent of AIF members have been able to successfully access the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans Scheme.”

“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.”

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