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Glastonbury organisers join calls for government insurance scheme

Organisers of Glastonbury Festival have urged the UK government to provide “direct financial support” due to difficulties in obtaining cancellation insurance.

Emily Eavis, who organises Glastonbury with her father, Michael, joined many across the UK’s live industry in appealing for a government-backed event cancellation fund. She said “it’s already getting tight” to prepare for next year’s festival, with insurers resistant to provide cancellation cover due to Covid-19.

She said Glastonbury had “lost a substantial amount of money” this year, and hopes the government will provide a safety net so that organisers can still make plans for festivals next summer.

Speaking to The Times, Eavis said: “In a usual planning cycle we would already be well into organising the next festival.

“The best solution would be for the government to offer direct financial support in the event of Glastonbury, and other events, being forced to cancel once they’re well into the preparations.

“If the government can share the risk by offering direct financial support, then it gives everyone the opportunity to move forward with the planning in the hope that things will be safe to run in the summer, and in the knowledge that backing is available if we’re simply not in a position to go ahead.”

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) said: “We know these are challenging times for the live events sector and are working flat out to support it. We have invested £1bn so far through the culture recovery fund to protect tens of thousands of creative jobs… with £400m more support still to come.”

Glastonbury has received deposits from 135,000 people already rolled over from 2020.

Last month, the DCMS Committee announced an inquiry to examine government policy to support future music festivals in the face of immediate pressures, and consider the economic and cultural contribution that music festivals make to the UK.

DCMS Committee chair Julian Knight MP said: “The collapse of the vibrant music festival sector this year is a real cause for concern. The majority of festivals have been cancelled with the money they generate down by 90 per cent and real risks surrounding their future viability.”

LIVE (Live music Industry Venues and Entertainment), the umbrella group representing the UK live music industry, has been in conversations with DCMS officials for several months regarding a reinsurance scheme and has submitted its own industry-wide proposal for a scheme.

The body has also backed a proposal from a new campaign group Let Live Thrive (LLT) which comprises MPs, major events organisers and insurers.

In an open letter to Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden, the group warned that major live events across the UK will not go ahead in 2021 unless a government-backed insurance scheme is introduced.

It states: “The planning, insurance buying and decision making is happening now. Though we can’t predict the social distancing requirements for 2021 at this stage, this won’t matter if contingency insurance remains unavailable; live events will simply not take place.”

The news follows the German government last week announcing a €2.5bn cancellation fund to allow event organisers to plan for the second half of 2021 without the financial risk posed by a potential Covid outbreak.

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