The lack of availability of COVID-19 cancellation insurance is the biggest barrier to major events happening in 2021, according to a new report from UK Music.
The Let the Music Play: Save Our Summer 2021 report, published today (Tuesday), lays out a blueprint for reviving live music after COVID-19 forced the effective closure of the sector last March.
The new report, released on the same day as the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Select Committee opened their inquiry into ‘The future of UK music festivals’, urges the government to introduce an insurance scheme, as it did for the film and TV sector, to allow festivals and other large events to continue planning.
While the Government’s £1.57bn Cultural Recovery Fund has supported the sector through the worst of the pandemic, the live music sector urgently needs to be able to plan for the post-pandemic period and the peak summer season.
Speaking to MPs during the DCMS inquiry this morning, the Association of Independent Festivals said events are “rapidly approaching the determination point”, after which they will have to pull the plug.
UK Music said in a statement accompanying the new report: “The music industry has worked hard to make event spaces as safe as they can possibly be. This includes launching testing pilots to be able to hold mass events safely, working with the government to develop guidance for how to hold events safely, and looking at new ventilation and air purification systems that would dramatically reduce the risk of transmission.
“But there is no certainty about when the industry will be allowed to hold mass events once again.”
The report is calling for an indicative date for a full capacity restart as well as targeted support for the sector, an extension to the VAT rate reduction on tickets, a rollover of the paid 2020 Local Authority licence fees for festivals to 2021 and an extension to business rates relief.
UK Music chief executive Jamie Njoku-Goodwin (pictured) said: “While this pandemic is still raging and continues to cause devastation to lives and livelihoods today, there is an endpoint in sight. Government is rolling out the vaccine and is openly speculating about returning to normal by the spring – but there is a serious risk that even if this proves to be a reality, lack of notice and available insurance options will mean much of the 2021 summer music season can’t go ahead.
“With the right support the live music industry can be at the forefront of the post-pandemic recovery and play a key role in our country’s economic and cultural revival – but there will need to be a concerted effort from industry and the government together if we are to let the music play and save our summer.”
The UK Music report also recommended establishing a live events taskforce that can “advise, evaluate and validate the various innovations we are looking at implementing”.