Live Music

AIF calls for VAT reduction on festival tickets to prevent closures

Featured Image: Photo by Danny Howe on Unsplash

The Association of Independent Festivals has launched a new campaign for a VAT reduction on festival tickets that it claims would save event promoters from shutting down this year.

The 5% For Festivals campaign aims to raise awareness, inform festival-goers about problems that promoters have faced in recent years and encourage them to contact MPs to lobby for the tax reduction.

Ultimately, it wants the UK Government to lower VAT on ticket sales from 20% to 5% for the next three years.

This comes after 36 festivals were cancelled in the country last year, mainly because of economic pressures between sales and costs.

“We really are at a critical point for the UK’s festival sector,“ said AIF chief executive John Rostron.

“Five years ago, it would have been impossible to imagine that promoters would have to endure something as damaging as the Covid-19 pandemic – but many of them did, without passing the inevitable cost onto the consumer.

“UK festivals need time to recover and rebuild.

“They need help from our Government. A reduction in VAT on festival tickets from 20% to 5% for three years is an evidence-based, simple, sensible remedy that would ease the financial burden on promoters enough for them to return to health.

“We need this action now.”

Further cancellations are looming in 2024 and six UK festivals have already announced some form of cancellation this year.

NASS Festival, Leopollooza, and Long Division all ceased operations after their 2023 editions. Bluedot and Barn On The Farm are not taking place this year but may return in 2025, while Nozstock The Hidden Valley is making its 2024 edition its last.

AIF says the problem stems from the beginning of the COVID-19-induced lockdowns which initially prevented hospitals going ahead.

When festivals returned in 2022, they rolled-over tickets with 2019 prices based upon costs and budgets from that year which caused many to make a financial loss.

Last year, the AIF released a report that forecast festivals to barely breakeven with a collective gross revenue of £195m ($246m/€228m) and gross expenditure of £177m.