The Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) has released a new report that foresees a collapse of 92% of independent UK festivals if the government does not step in to help. As of now, the nation's festival sector will be facing potential refunds of up to £800 million ($977 million) this summer due to the fact that around 90% of all festivals in the region will not take place in 2020 because of COVID-19. The outcome of the pandemic has been devastating across the board for businesses, but the live event industry is seeing an even bigger hit in that it is the last on the totem pole for re-opening and funding.
The AIF reports that their members have already taken a massive loss with average sunk costs of £375,000 ($458,000) that are not recoupable, with 98.5% of those not covered by insurance for cancellation due to the pandemic. The impact of the COVID-19 has been brutal, with UK festivals facing a projected loss of more than half of their workforce between September 2020 and February 2021 without government aid.
However, these festivals have a guardian angel in the form of the AIF. The organization is continuing to lobby the UK government to save the independent sector by pushing for clarity on eligibility for grants and loans, and rolling premises license fees over to 2021 for events that have been postponed or canceled. They are calling for a continuation of furloughing, self-employed schemes, and business support packages until things go back to normal. They also are asking for more transparency as to when festivals will be able to return to operations and the social distancing measures that will be expected to maintain public safety.
“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," said AIF CEO Paul Reed. "This is not a temporary shutdown of business – it is an entire year of income and trade wiped out...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."
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We need to stand behind our music community comrades during this harrowing crisis. It's imperative that we not let these longstanding organizations fade away, as they are a vital part of our culture.