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AIF calls for Government-backed support to deal with mounting costs and shortages

Association of Independent Festivals chief executive Paul Reed (pictured) has warned of the “perfect storm” of ending VAT relief, Brexit, the supply chain crisis and worker shortages for UK festival organisers this summer.

Reed has said that while the widespread return of large events this summer is a welcome sight, it will not be a case of returning to business as usual.

He also warned that festivals and events are facing rising costs of around 20-30% across operations and infrastructure, due to increases in labour costs, staffing, materials and transport.

The not-for-profit festivals trade association is calling for more support for live events from the UK Government, including the continued VAT relief on festival tickets and keeping it at the current 12.5% rate. This is set to end in March, and other live performance industry bodies such as UK Music have called for the same.

At the 2022 Festival Congress in Bristol, Reed said: “The UK festival industry is a powerhouse, contributing £1.7bn in GVA to the UK economy and supporting 85,000 jobs. The cultural and wellbeing benefits of festivals cannot be measured.

“We know they are profound, and the absence of festivals has been felt keenly by artists, the wider supply chain and of course audiences.

“We are facing a perfect storm in many ways.”

Reed added: “We may be emerging from the shadow of a pandemic in the UK, but this year will not be a case of back to business as usual, without critical support for festival organisers.

“That’s why we’re calling on the Government to aid our recovery and maintain the current reduced 12.5% rate on tickets beyond the end of March, as well as looking at some form of Government-backed loan scheme for suppliers to alleviate some of these pressures and encourage investment in the festival supply chain.”