Culture Minister Caroline Dinenage told the DCMS Committee during its final session of The Future of UK Music Festivals inquiry that she does not intend to make an announcement about a Government-backed festival cancelation insurance scheme until there is much more certainty that events will be able to take place.
She said, “As a minister responsible for this, I would much rather be able to make an announcement when I’m absolutely certain things can go ahead, or at least in a much better sense of predictability that things can go ahead, than announce an indemnity scheme and give people the confidence only to pull the rug out from underneath their feet again.
“I understand the impatience of the sector but we really want to avoid a situation like just before Christmas where we walked all the way up to the hill to be able to get our theatres reopened and then within minutes of them being able to reopen the public health situation meant everything had to shut down again.”
Following similar schemes having been launched in Germany, with a €2.5bn (£2,14bn) fund, Denmark (kr530m/£61m), Norway (€34m/£28.12), The Netherlands (€300m/£257m), Austria (€300m/£257m), Belgium (€60m/€51.4m) and Estonia (€42m/£36m), Dineage said, “Germany is the only one with anything like the sort of comparable size to what we would need and that has now been stalled.”
DCMS Committee chair and Conservative MP for Solihull Julian Knight said, “Germany’s vaccination rate is much lower than the UK’s and therefore they were probably right to pull their scheme however we do have an opportunity to get what is a very crucial industry worth £1.7bn with 975 festivals and events, to capitalise on our faster vaccination rate by at least setting out a proper road map, with insurance in place so that in the second half of the year we can have at least a limited festival season.”
In response Dineage said, “I agree. Actually 80% of multi-day greenfield festivals are below 5,000 attendees and those are the sort of things we want to see back as much as we do the much bigger scale events.”
She added, “[The events industry] is looking for certainty or at least predictability but the only way we can build anything like an amount of predictability is by working through a clear roadmap borne out by the evidence backed up by things like this pilot scheme that we’re doing and the investigation into the Covid passport scheme – these are the only ways that we will be able to get back to something like the kind of predictability that you’re asking for.”