The UK government has announced a £750 million Covid-19 insurance scheme for live events and festivals, protecting them from any potential cancellation costs stemming from the effects of the pandemic. The live music industry, which has for months called for such a program, has welcomed the announcement.
The news comes after more than half of all scheduled music festivals have been cancelled this summer. Events such as Boomtown and Womad festivals have cited the inability to obtain cancellation insurance as the key factor in their decisions. In May, UK festivals issued a “red alert”, warning that talks with the government over an insurance scheme had hit “a brick wall”.
The new Live Events Reinsurance Scheme will be operated by insurance companies providing cover for live events. The UK government will act as a “reinsurer”, a comfort blanket guaranteeing that all pay-outs will be funded “a guarantee to make sure insurers can offer the products events companies need”. The scheme will run from September 2021 through September 2022.
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has said the scheme is part of the government’s larger plan to “rescue, reopen and recover”, stating: “We’ve been here for live events throughout the pandemic with billions of pounds of rescue funding,” he said. “Today is an important next step as we develop live events insurance to give them the confidence they need to plan for a brighter future.” He concluded: “Our events industries are not just vital for the economy and jobs; they put Britain on the map and, thanks to this extra support, will get people back to the experiences that make life worth living.”
The CEO of the Night Time Industries Association, Michael Kill, was also optimistic for the future. He proclaimed: “I am extremely pleased that the Government has decided to introduce an insurance scheme for the events and festival sector, it stands testament to a Government that is starting to acknowledge the varying issues within the sector and through engagement, take the appropriate action to protect businesses and jobs.”
Kill continued: “Over 700,000 people work within this sector, it will give some comfort and certainty to supply chain and freelancers that heavily rely on this industry for their main source of income, and we would hope that with this news many will feel confident in returning to work within the sector.”
“It is devastating that the timings of this scheme could not have been earlier, as we have already lost many amazing festivals and events to the uncertainty that this pandemic represents, but I feel that this scheme will allow a beleaguered sector to start to rebuild and plan with confidence for the future.”
This is the first positive step in an ever-changing story. The live event industry is not the only one feeling the burden, the travel industry has also recently called for support from the Treasury in extending the furlough scheme.
Watch UK festivals talk about the situation, below.