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Speaking at the online Live Events Crisis Summit today, 14 April, Association of Independent Festivals CEO Paul Reed said the lack of a Government-backed insurance scheme for festivals is leading to a growing number of event cancellations.

He said, “The season is ebbing away and with it the vast economic contribution the sector makes.”

The session, organised as part of the Let LIVE Thrive campaign, was held just hours before the news broke that Kambe Events’s 15,000-capacity Shambala festival has been postponed for a second year.

Shambala is the latest in a growing number of 2021 festivals to have been cancelled including Bluedot (cap. 21,000), Download (85,000), BST Hyde Park (65,000), Junction 2 (12,000) and Glastonbury (147,000).

Reed said most festival organisers will not take the risk of putting on events without insurance. He quoted an AIF survey that found that 92.5% of respondents would not go ahead without insurance – describing it as vital not optional.

He said the industry is not looking for a bailout but an investment from Government to backstop an industry that creates thousands of jobs.

The summit was led by Julian Knight MP, who chaired the DCMS Committee’s The Future of UK Music Festivals inquiry. Speakers included UK Music CEO Jamie Njoku-Goodwin, chair of the Great North Run Sir Brendan Foster CBE and Tysers director Tim Thornhill.

Njoku-Goodwin said, “We’ve got a really important role to play in the post-pandemic recovery, a role which Government wants us to play, but we can’t without the issue of insurance being resolved.”

Knight said, “Now more than ever the live events industry needs a Government-back insurance scheme like the one for film and television – to give organisers the confidence to put plans in place to sign on the dotted line and to go ahead and lead to a summer of fun, rather than a summer of none.”

He added, “A Government-backed insurance scheme is key in unlocking the sustainable contribution of festivals to our economy and stopping them from disappearing from the cultural landscape for good.

“Any more cancellations would have tremendous knock-on effects on our local economy, of places that play host to live events. We’ve already seen the high-profile cancellation of Glastonbury, but this is a picture that’s painted across the country.”

 Njoku-Goodwin said the “market failure” in insurance would lead to a wave of cancellations in the coming weeks, which would not only be damaging for business, but also the taxpayer due to the need for ongoing support.

Great North Run’s Foster said his event is facing an “existential crisis” ahead of its 40th anniversary this year.

Made up of MPs, Peers, major events organisers and insurers, Let LIVE Thrive was founded late last year to draw attention to the fact that many of the UK’s household-name events, including festivals and sports competitions, will not be able to secure the insurance they need to plan events this year, despite positive developments with the Covid-19 vaccines rollout.