(Credit: Aranxa Esteve)

Ministers warn government they “must act now to save festivals” following Glastonbury cancellation

Ministers have urged the government that they “must act now to save festivals”. This update arrives in the light of Emily Eavis announcing yesterday that Glastonbury Festival will not be going ahead this year due to the pandemic.

The ongoing health crisis stopped any events going ahead last year, which festivals just about survived through and there is a sense of dread that they won’t be able to survive two years without government intervention. At the start of the year, The Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) select committee heard from festival organisers of events like Parklife and Boomtown. They have warned that events would likely have to be cancelled by the end of the month. They say this is due to insurance issues. If they don’t cancel immediately, the worry is that many festivals won’t have enough finances left to return once it is safe.

“The news that the UK has lost the Glastonbury Festival for a second year running is devastating,” warned DCMS Committee Chair Julian Knight MP. “We have repeatedly called for Ministers to act to protect our world-renowned festivals like this one with a Government-backed insurance scheme. Our plea fell on deaf ears and now the chickens have come home to roost.

“The jewel in the crown will be absent but surely the Government cannot ignore the message any longer – it must act now to save this vibrant and vital festivals sector.”

This sentiment was shared by UK Music Chief Executive Jamie Njoku-Goodwin who said they can’t wait any longer before taking action. “This cancellation is devastating for all of us on both on a personal and professional level,” he said. “It will have a serious impact on thousands of jobs right across the country and many jobs in the supply chains for Glastonbury.

“There is now a huge cloud of uncertainty hanging over the whole summer festival and live music season with the entire industry left in limbo and thousands more jobs in jeopardy. It is absolutely critical that the government look at more financial support for the music industry and those who work in it as a matter of urgency. Without more Government help, there is a real risk that some of our world-leading music scene will disappear forever.

“The music industry is desperate to get back on its feet when we can operate safely. When the time comes for the post-pandemic recovery, we can play our role in our country’s economic and cultural revival. But until that point, we need more financial support to keep us going. If that support is not forthcoming, we will risk losing some of our finest emerging talent with the fear that Covid could rip a giant and permanent hole in the UK’s music scene and our cultural fabric.”

He concluded: “Devastating announcement today from Glastonbury Festival, such an important date within the Festival calendar for many, and will be devastating for festival-goers and businesses looking at the summer season, and the opportunity to trade in 2021. The government must recognise the impact of the negligible levels of support given to the festival and events sector, and work through a solution that will safeguard the sector, and allow the 2021 festival and events season to take place across the UK.”