Live Music

“100 UK festivals could be lost this year,” says AIF

There are “grave concerns” for the future of the UK’s festival sector after a 21st event planned for this year was called off.

Up to 100 festivals could disappear in 2024 due to rising costs, according to the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF). 21 have already announced a postponement, cancellation or complete closure this year.

Cotswolds-based Nibley Festival has announced that this year’s event will be its last, soon after Bradford’s Bingley Festival announced that its 2024 edition will not go ahead. Promoters of both festivals have cited rapidly rising production costs as the reason why running their event is no longer viable.

AIF said the timing of this milestone suggests that the number of festival cancellations this year will far outstrip 2023, when a total 36 festivals cancelled before they were due to take place, according to research from the AIF.

The trade group reiterated calls for a reduction in VAT on ticket sales to solidify the future of those festivals that remain.

AIF chief executive John Rostron said: “It’s with grave concern that we again sound the alarm to Government upon passing this critical milestone. UK festivals are disappearing at a worrying rate, and we as a nation are witnessing the erosion of one of our most successful and unique cultural industry sectors.

“We have done the research: a reduction of VAT to 5% on festival tickets over the next three years is a conservative, targeted and temporary measure that would save almost all of the festival businesses that are likely to fall by the wayside this year and many more over the years to come. We need this intervention now.”

Festival awareness campaign

At the start of February, the AIF launched a new campaign for a VAT reduction on festival tickets that it said would save many event promoters from closure. However, the UK’s Budget delivered earlier this month did not announce any assistance for the sector.

The 5% For Festivals campaign is an awareness campaign that seeks to inform festival-goers about the problems that music festival promoters have faced over the last five years, encouraging them to contact their MPs to lobby for a much needed VAT reduction on tickets.

The AIF said: “Temporary support from the UK Government – lowering VAT from 20% to 5% on ticket sales for the next three years – is all that’s needed to give festival promoters the space they need to rebuild.”

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