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Boomtown opts to cancel 2021 event over lack of insurance

Boomtown Fair has become the latest UK festival to succumb to the pressures of planning a major event without COVID-19 specific cancellation insurance.

Organisers of the festival announced today (Tuesday) that it has been forced to cancel its 2021 edition and postpone until August 10-14, 2022.

Boomtown, which was also cancelled in 2020 due to COVID-19, said that without the safety net of an insurance scheme it would be a “huge gamble” to venture any further with planning, predicting it would lose an “eight-figure sum” if COVID-19 forced its cancellation further down the line.

The Hampshire festival, which sold out its 66,000 tickets in February, confirmed all tickets will automatically roll over to the 2022 event, and refunds will be available to those who wish. It said: “We are so grateful to everyone who has kept their ticket with us over the past year, you really did save the festival, and will continue to do so if you are able to roll them over for another year.”

Boomtown’s statement also noted that while it is “incredibly grateful” in being awarded a grant from the Arts Council England, “it represents only a fraction of the costs (under 10%) involved in creating an event to the sheer scale and ambition of Boomtown, and only goes so far to plugging the deficit left from not being able to run our event, now for two years in a row, and most pressingly does not solve the problem of lack of insurance.”

Boomtown joins several festivals, such as Download and Glastonbury, that have opted to cancel their events this year due to a lack of insurance and ongoing uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 restrictions.

The live music industry in the UK has been pushing for a government-back cancellation insurance scheme for months, with industry leaders and speakers from the insurance industries recently meeting online during the Let LIVE Thrive campaign event to discuss proposals of such an initiative.

DCMS Select Committee chair Julian Knight said during the meeting that a Government-backed insurance scheme offered a “sensible solution” to what was a market failure and was needed “now more than ever” to lead to a “summer of fun rather than a summer of none.”

Most festivals, concerts and sporting competitions will not be able to take place if there is no cover available, according to an AIF survey that found that 92.5 per cent of respondents would not go ahead without insurance.

Image: Sam Warrenger / TheFestivals.UK / CC BY 4.0 / Edited for size