The Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) is asking for urgent clarity from the government, to determine whether the festival sector will be receiving any of the £1.57bn aid package announced yesterday, 5 July.
A joint statement from HM Treasury and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said that ‘theatres, heritage, historic palaces, museums, galleries, live music and independent cinema’ will qualify for emergency grants and loans totalling £1.57bn.
However, no specific mention has been made of the UK’s struggling festival sector, which is set to miss out an entire year of income. AIF estimates UK festivals have lost an average of £375,000 per event.
AIF CEO Paul Reed said: “The time for lip service is over. UK festivals have, to date, largely fallen through the cracks when it comes to financial aid and business support. Boris Johnson has told Parliament that he is doing all he can to support our ‘very, very valuable sector’ but we are yet to see evidence of that.
“The time for lip service is over. UK festivals have, to date, largely fallen through the cracks when it comes to financial aid and business support.”
“We need the Prime Minister to back this up with meaningful action and confirm that festival organisers will be eligible to access this emergency support package.”
Festivals support an estimated £1.75bn in gross value added to the UK economy, and support 85,000 jobs across the country. Reed said: “The announcement of emergency support for the arts is clearly welcome but it is worrying that there has still been no specific mention of the UK’s festival industry – a sector that contributes so much to the economy and people’s lives, and one that finds itself in a uniquely precarious position during this pandemic.”
“An invaluable lifeline”
The aid package has been welcomed by UK Music, the association which represents every part of the UK recorded and live music industry.
Vincent Moss, Director of Communications at UK Music, said that financial aid was needed in all corners of the UK music industry: “There is no part of the music industry that has not been hit by coronavirus. It’s impossible to say that it is needed somewhere more urgently that in another part of the music industry.
“Right across the sector people are struggling to make ends meet and businesses face going to the wall. Hopefully, this aid package will help alleviate some of those problems. It will be an invaluable lifeline to many.”
“Right across the sector people are struggling to make ends meet and businesses face going to the wall.”
Moss added that there is “no doubt” that the recent #LetTheMusicPlay campaign, which saw artists and promoters across the industry lobbying for government support, increased pressure on the government and accelerated the announcement of the aid package.
“There was concern within the music industry that other sectors were receiving support and there was a risk that our sector could be left behind,” he said. “The campaign helped to ensure that did not happen.”
When asked if further assistance was needed for the industry, Moss said: “We just don’t know at this stage. We are awaiting the exact details of the support. The package of measures will need to be broad enough and to ensure that those who do not have a track record of receiving public funding can also benefit. Of course, a lot will depend on when the live music industry can get back on its feet.”
Photo credit: Giulia Spadafora / Soul Media