Music festivals in the UK are selling out in record numbers after the country’s government unveiled a timeline for ending lockdown restrictions before the summer. However, festival organizers are still wary of cancellations that could lead to detrimental financial losses without a government-backed insurance policy.
On Monday, Boris Johnson announced his government’s plan to ease out of lockdown, which is set to conclude with the complete removal of social distancing restrictions on June 21st. As The Guardian reports, the news has led to major festivals like Field Day and Reading & Leeds selling out at historic rates, as demonstrated by a 600% rise in Ticketmaster traffic.
“We’ve had around 2 million fans on our site with half a million visits to the Ticketmaster Festival Finder guide,” Ticketmaster’s UK managing director Andrew Parsons told The Guardian. “It’s a week unlike any we’ve experienced in a typical February. The pent-up demand to get back to live events is undeniable.”
Clearly, fans who’ve been cooped up inside for almost a year are hungrier than ever for concerts to resume. However, given the valid uncertainty about whether or not England’s immunity roadmap will actually go as planned, festival organizers are calling on the government to provide some sort of insurance if they decide to reinforce lockdown restrictions before these events can take place.
“Insurance is more critical than ever and it is something we have been pushing for as a sector for many months,” said Paul Reed, chief executive of the Association of Independent Festivals. “We welcome the roadmap, but the 2021 festival season is not guaranteed. There is still a chance of cancellations.”
Reed went on to tell The Guardian that there’s “enormous risk” for these festivals to proceed without insurance, given the amount of investment capital that’s needed just to get one off the ground. “There are essential costs to be met for it to get signed off,” he said. “It is not just about artist or production deposits, where there may be flexibility, but there are essential costs like medical provision.”
According to Sacha Lord, co-founder of Parklife festival and the Warehouse Project, news about the insurance request is set to arrive on March 3rd. “This coming Wednesday is the most critical day of my 26-year career,” Lord said. “For those who work behind the scenes, it will be make or break. They need hope.”
Other festivals like the dance-oriented MADE festival in the West Midlands and the South London festival, Mighty Hoopla, have also experienced titanic ticket sales, so there’s a lot of money riding on this government-backed insurance policy to pull through.
“The longer it goes on the more nervous we might get,” said Mighty Hoopla festival director Jamie Tagg. “Insurance would be everything for us right now.”
Meanwhile in the US, Dr. Fauci said last month that he’s hoping concerts can return once at least 70% of the population is vaccinated. Some reports have estimated that the fall is a reasonable timeline for that, but with a new variant of the virus spreading rapidly in New York, we might have to hold off even longer. Even so, as of now major US festivals including Coachella, Bonnaroo, and Governors Ball are hoping to stage events before year’s end and have dates tentatively set for the fall.
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