The DCMS Committee has published a report following its The Future of UK Music Festivals inquiry that suggests the festival sector faces another “lost summer” directly as a result of the Government’s refusal to back insurance for events at risk of cancellation due to Covid-19 restrictions.
The report also airs concerns from MPs that the Events Research Programme will not provide the necessary data on multi-day festivals to lift all restrictions on live events from 21 June.
It also states that prior to the 2023 festival season, Government, Local Government Association and representatives from the festival sector should develop standardised environmental objectives that local authorities must adopt when licensing festivals.
It also suggests that before festivals run this summer, the Home Secretary should make regulations under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 to allow organisations conducting drug checking to operate lawfully.
“If the commercial insurance market won’t step in, Ministers must, and urgently: events need to know now whether the Government will back them, or they simply won’t take place this year.”
The report calls on Ministers to act now by providing a safety net for live events scheduled to take place after 21 June by introducing a time-limited insurance scheme.
The Government has ruled out offering any support before all restrictions on the roadmap are lifted which the report says would be too late for festivals this summer.
It suggests that the failure by Ministers to accommodate long lead times involved in delivering large-scale events comes despite consistent and repeated calls by the Committee on the Treasury to provide support that would enable planning to go ahead.
However, MPs involved in the inquiry expressed caution on whether the Government’s roadmap will enable festivals to go ahead this summer, raising doubts about the scope of the Government’s Events Research Programme and uncertainty over the spread of new Covid-19 variants.
DCMS Committee Chair Julian Knight MP said music festivals have been treated as the poor relation by the Government: “Despite the huge economic and cultural contribution they make, few have benefited from the Culture Recovery Fund, and without our efforts the sector would have been left out of the pilot events programme on the safe return of audiences.
“It has been made very clear to us that the vast majority of music festivals do not have the financial resilience to cover the costs of another year of late-notice cancellations. If the commercial insurance market won’t step in, Ministers must, and urgently: events need to know now whether the Government will back them, or they simply won’t take place this year.
“We repeat our call for the Government to announce an insurance scheme to cover festival organisers if events need to be cancelled as a result of Covid-19 restrictions continuing beyond 21 June. There’s still time to get the music playing, but no more room for excuses.”
The DCMS Committee’s inquiry explored the cultural and economic importance of festivals, the immediate pressures the sector was facing due to Covid-19 restrictions, what support was needed for festivals to return in 2021, as well as more long-term challenges around environmental impact and drug safety. It heard from festival organisers, those in the festival supply chain, academics, campaigners, activists and government ministers.
The Committee was made up of Julian Knight MP (Chair) (Conservative, Solihull); Kevin Brennan MP (Labour, Cardiff West); Steve Brine MP (Conservative, Winchester); Alex Davies-Jones MP (Labour, Pontypridd); Clive Efford MP (Labour, Eltham); Julie Elliott MP (Labour, Sunderland Central); Rt Hon Damian Green MP (Conservative, Ashford); Rt Hon Damian Hinds MP (Conservative, East Hampshire); John Nicolson MP (Scottish National Party, Ochil and South Perthshire); Giles Watling MP (Conservative, Clacton); Heather Wheeler (Conservative, South Derbyshire).