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UK festival association seeks clarity on inclusion in £1.57bn aid package

The Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) has requested further clarification from the UK government about whether the festival industry will be supported in its recent £1.57bn rescue package.

The UK’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) announced the funding on Sunday and pledged to support “live music” without specific mention of the festival industry.

Thousands of organisations across a range of sectors including the performing arts and theatres, heritage, historic palaces, museums, galleries, live music and independent cinema will be able to access emergency grants and loans.

The package includes funding for national cultural institutions in England and investment in cultural and heritage sites to restart construction work paused as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Assistance has also been announced for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

AIF chief executive Paul Reed said: “The AIF has had close contact with DCMS throughout the lockdown period, helping them to understand the needs of UK festivals during this difficult time. We have urged Government to offer a robust financial package to the sector to ensure its survival.

“The announcement of emergency support for the arts is clearly welcome but it is worrying that there has still been no specific mention of the UK’s festival industry – a sector that contributes so much to the economy and people’s lives, and one that finds itself in a uniquely precarious position during this pandemic.

“The time for lip service is over. UK festivals have, to date, largely fallen through the cracks when it comes to financial aid and business support.

“Boris Johnson has told Parliament that he is doing all he can to support our ‘very, very valuable sector’ but we are yet to see evidence of that. We need the Prime Minister to back this up with meaningful action and confirm that festival organisers will be eligible to access this emergency support package.”

According to AIF’s research, festivals contribute an estimated £1.75bn in Gross Value Added (GVA) to the UK economy annually and support 85,000 jobs across the country.

The organisation expects the UK’s festival sector to miss out on an entire year’s worth of income in 2020 and have lost an average of £375,000 ($470,000) per event.

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