‘Glastonbury at risk’: MPs’ warn of ‘festival free’ summer due to pandemic

GLASTONBURY and other large music festivals could be prevented from going ahead in 2021 unless their insurance is guaranteed in case of Covid-19 disruption, MPs have warned.

While organisers of the event, held at Worthy Farm, Pilton, over the last weekend of June have said they are preparing to host the event in 2021, fears still remain over the live music industry.

As widespread vaccination is not expected to be rolled out to the masses until early next year, decision time for many festivals is fast approaching.

Conservative Julian Knight, chairman of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, warned there could be “no festival season next year” unless help is provided.

Theresa Villiers, a Conservative former Cabinet minister, also said businesses need to be “signing contracts and spending money now” for music festivals and major events from next spring.

Speaking in the Commons, Ms Villiers said: “Will the minister give serious consideration to Government support for an indemnity or insurance scheme so that they can make those decisions in the confidence that if there is a third wave, then their losses are going to be mitigated?”

Culture minister Caroline Dinenage replied: “I’m well aware of the concerns and the challenges of securing insurance for live music events.

“It’s something we’re looking at very carefully but the key really is for the industry to build an evidence base that absolutely demonstrates insurance coverage is the only barrier to events taking place.

“That’s what we managed to prove with the film and TV fund.”

Mr Knight said: “The UK is the leader in the world in terms of music and arts festivals.


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“The sector is worth £12 billion and supports many thousands of highly skilled jobs as well as the financial lifeblood of the nation’s musicians.

“However, there will be no festival season next year unless insurance is underwritten in case of Covid disruption.

“Will the minister firstly meet with me and MPs from across this House to see how this reinsurance can be put in place, and does the minister recognise, noting her answer to the previous question, that with a minimum lead time of six months, the reinsurance needs to be in place now before the likes of Glastonbury commit?”

Ms Dinenage replied: “Festivals are such a vibrant and integral part of our creative community and our economy, and I am well aware that many will take decisions very soon about whether they can go ahead next year, so this is a very urgent situation.

“There is a sub group of my entertainment and events working group looking very specifically about how we can get festivals reopened and in the last few weeks I have met with representatives from festivals in Edinburgh and only yesterday from festivals on the Isle of Wight.”

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