Thursday 7 January 2021 9:58 am

MPs urge Rishi Sunak to save music festivals amid threat of collapse

MPs have urged chancellor Rishi Sunak to roll out emergency support for music festivals this summer, warning many events are at risk of permanent collapse.

In a letter today the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) committee asked the chancellor to launch a government-backed insurance scheme to ensure festivals and live music events can go ahead.

Read more: MPs launch inquiry into future of UK music festivals

The letter was signed by more than 100 organisations and individuals in the live music sector, including UK Music and the heads of the Warehouse Project, Parklife and Underbelly festivals.

“Without insurance, the events we know and love simply won’t take place this year — vaccine or no vaccine,” said committee chair Julian Knight.

“Sustaining losses like those we’ve seen in 2020 for another year isn’t an option, and hundreds of businesses in the events supply chain have already been forced to fold.”

It comes after the committee heard that some of the UK’s biggest music festivals could be cancelled this month unless additional measures were put in place.

Read more: UK music industry value set to halve as pandemic derails growth

Industry representatives warned that a failure to provide support could also cause smaller festivals to disappear completely.

The live music industry was ravaged by the outbreak of Covid-19 last year, with almost all festivals and gigs cancelled as a result of the pandemic.

Event organisers are at a critical stage in the planning process, but many are unable to risk proceeding without insurance in place.

With the commercial insurance market not expected to offer Covid-related cover until 2022, events will only go ahead if bosses can access a government-backed scheme.

In July the government launched a £500m insurance scheme for the UK film and TV industry to help restart production after filming was halted during the first lockdown.

The appeal urged ministers to extend this existing support to other creative industries.

Read more: Falling through the cracks: How Covid-19 has put London’s events sector on the brink

Campaigners have highlighted not only the financial benefits of the UK’s thriving festival scene, but also the cultural significance of its most iconic events.

In 2019 festivals added £1.76bn in gross value to the economy, while almost one in three Brits watched TV coverage of Glastonbury.