DCMS Committee chair Julian Knight MP (pictured), who is leading the inquiry into the future of UK music festivals, said the cancellation of Glastonbury (cap. 147,000) for a second consecutive year is devastating and he has called on the Government to take action to save the sector.
The Conservative MP for Solihull said, “We have repeatedly called for Ministers to act to protect our world-renowned festivals like this one with a Government-backed insurance scheme. Our plea fell on deaf ears and now the chickens have come home to roost.
“The jewel in the crown will be absent but surely the Government cannot ignore the message any longer – it must act now to save this vibrant and vital festivals sector.”
The opening hearing of the DCMS Select Committee inquiry into the future of UK music festivals, on 5 January, saw Association of Independent Festivals CEO Paul Reed warn that many of the organisation’s festival members would face difficulty without insurance support.
It also heard from festival organisers including Parklife (cap, 80,000) co-founder Sacha Lord and Boomtown (66,000) communications & strategy director Anna Wade, who emphasised the challenges faced by the sector.
The day after the first committee meeting, more than a dozen MPs and 100 event industry executives signed a letter to the chancellor of the exchequer Rishi Sunak, copying in prime minister Boris Johnson, calling for him to implement a Government-backed insurance scheme for festivals. No action has yet been taken by Treasury.
However, the culture secretary Oliver Dowden issued a statement that said Government was considering the issue: “We continue to help the arts on recovery, including looking at problems around getting insurance. I’m sure Glastonbury will be back bigger and better next year.”
Jamie Njoku-Goodwin CEO of umbrella music industry lobbying group UK Music said the cancellation is devastating and will have a serious impact on thousands of jobs.
“There is now a huge cloud of uncertainty hanging over the whole summer festival and live music season with the entire industry left in limbo and thousands more jobs in jeopardy.
“It is absolutely critical that the Government look at more financial support for the music industry and those who work in it as a matter of urgency. Without more Government help, there is a real risk that some of our world-leading music scene will disappear forever.
“The music industry is desperate to get back on its feet when we can operate safely. When the time comes for the post-pandemic recovery, we can play our role in our country’s economic and cultural revival. But until that point, we need more financial support to keep us going.
“If that support is not forthcoming, we will risk losing some of our finest emerging talent with the fear that Covid could rip a giant and permanent hole in the UK’s music scene and our cultural fabric.”