Festivals and events organisers have urged the Scottish government to provide upwards of £9m to provide a cancellation safety net if restrictions are not eased in time for the 2021 events.
The Scotland Event Producers Independent Committee (EPIC), a new industry group formed in the wake of COVID-19, is lobbying for Scotland to create a financial package to allow organisers to continue planning for events this year.
An EPIC spokesman said, according to the Scotsman newspaper: “Events at scale take months to plan and require significant pre-event investment.
“Should events be forcibly cancelled all costs would currently be borne by the organiser and their event supply chain, and the debt would render businesses unrecoverable.
“Coverage against cancellations is not available in the commercial insurance market. A Scottish cancellation fund would immediately address concerns and provide organisers of Scottish events with the confidence to keep planning for outdoor events in summer 2021 in Scotland, and provide job security for thousands across the country.”
Derek Martin, director of Terminal V, a dance music festival due to be held at the Royal Highland Showground in Ingliston in October, also called for a government-backed insurance policy, calling it “essential” to allow organisers to fully plan ahead and start engaging with the event supply industry.
He said: “Without it, we will never be able to fully commit with the risk hanging over us.”
Frodo McDaniel, general manager of the Kelburn Garden Party in Ayrshire, said: “Smaller festivals exist on a financial knife-edge and although we welcome the assistance we’ve received so far, we need to be able to support the vast number of freelancers, suppliers, artists, and tradespeople who make our festival possible. The only way to do this is to go ahead with planning as though the festival is definitely happening.”
The Scottish Government’s own Event Industry Advisory Group is in the process of seeking “clarity” from First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on the criteria for events returning when she provides an update on easing lockdown restrictions next week.
A statement from the taskforce said: “During the latest meeting of the group members outlined the challenges the sector faces and the significant disadvantages Scotland’s event businesses are facing following the publication of indicative dates for the resumption of events in England by the UK Government.”
In England, the UK government has rejected calls for an insurance scheme to help protect event organisers from cancellation. The UK Government told live events operators that it will only consider introducing a public sector-backed insurance scheme if they can demonstrate that a lack of commercially available products is the “only barrier” to them staging events.
However, ticket sales skyrocketed in England after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that social distancing restrictions could be lifted before the end of June.