Leaders from UK’s major festivals and events sectors have penned a letter to Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden urging for government-backed insurance to cover losses from COVID-related risks that are currently uninsurable in the commercial market.
More than 70 signatories, including Festival Republic managing director Melvin Benn and London Marathon event director Hugh Brasher, are pushing for the insurance scheme, which it says has already been introduced for the screen industry with the UK Film and Television Production Restart Fund.
The letter states that given the long lead times involved, landmark UK events urgently need to plan for the 2021 season and beyond, adding that without the insurance “it is hard to see how our sector can rebuild and give economic confidence to our participants, our supply chains and our audiences.”
It notes the role that festivals and events play in British culture, but adds that under the current degree of risk, if such events fall in the coming 12 months “they may not return to help us renew national optimism and wellbeing.”
The letter reads: “The UK’s major festivals and events are in danger of being invisible in the current Covid crisis – despite the fact that the Government-backed Business Visits and Events Partnership showed them accounting for over 50% of spend in the UK visitor economy in 2019.
“There is a measure that must be brought in now that would make a huge difference in allowing our sector to rebuild and to play our part in rebooting the economy for the years to come – a Government-backed insurance scheme for major live festivals and events.
“We urge the UK Government to recognise the gap, underwrite an insurance scheme for major events and festivals without delay, and address this time-critical threat to one of the UK’s truly distinctive sectors.”
Other signatories include Nick Dodds, managing director of Festivals and Events International, Geoff Ellis, chief executive of DF Concerts and Charlie Wood and Ed Bartlam, directors of Edinburgh’s Hogmanay.
Tom Clements, the president of the National Outdoor Events Association, also backed the initiative and is encouraging its members and others working in the events industry to forward the letter on to their elected representatives at both local and national level.
The Asociación de Promotores Musicales (APM), the main representative of the live music industry in Spain, has called on the government to develop a plan of concrete measures for the rescue and reactivation of the sector.
The organisation has welcomed the government’s recently announced Recovery, Transformation and Resilience plan, which will be bolstered by £800m. However, it has slated the Ministry for its lack of engagement with the industry ahead of announcing the cultural sector as one of the ten driving policies last week.
APM said in a statement: “The Ministry has the opportunity to make history by recovering and building a sector from the base, with, first, the most urgent measures, to continue with the also important ones. However, time continues to pass, and time is what we no longer have. Professionals keep falling and companies keep closing, we are a sector that no longer has anything to lose.”
It calls for an urgent collaborative rescue and reactivation plan to be laid out for “a sector that has been particularly damaged and affected by the pandemic.”
APM has also pushed the government to execute its #culturasegura campaign, which was launched by the Ministry of Culture and Sports and is aimed at building public confidence in returning to events and shows, and stressed that it should be in collaboration with the sector. It brings special attention to concert halls, which are at risk of disappearing.
The organisation has called for several other measures including better clarity in localised regulations, as well as budget proposals.
During a meeting which took place on October 8, and involved the prime minister, the minister of culture and sports and representatives from the live entertainment sector, the government announced that the cultural sector would be a key pillar in the country’s economic recovery plan.
The meeting marked the first time the government has officially recognised culture and sports as assets to the Spanish economy.