Following Festival Republic’s latest Events Research Programme (ERP) event, the 10,000-capacity Download Pilot festival that took place in Donington Park over the weekend, the Live Nation company’s MD Melvin Benn said it was “100% evidence” that large-scale music gatherings can take place safely amid the pandemic.
Benn said Festival Republic’s Latitude will become the first major festival to take place in the UK this summer. He told Access that despite speculation, the festival has not yet been made part of the Events Research Programme: “Latitude has been put forward for inclusion in the ERP, I talked to [Government] about including every festival in it, but I have no idea if it will be part of it – the one thing you can’t be clear about is how DCMS makes decisions.”
He said he hoped to hear this week whether Latitude’s ERP application had been successful.
The promoter said that while there has been no commitment from Government that Latitude will be able to go ahead, his conversations with Government figures last week have led him to be very confident it can be staged. Benn said he is also hopeful that other events, such as WOMAD, due to take place the same weekend as Latitude are in a similarly strong position.
Despite Festival Republic’s close involvement in the ERP, Benn said that he has been given “zero indication” of when the results will be announced, and that there has been no further news regarding Government providing the festival sector with cancellation insurance support.
Despite the challenges, Benn said he was confident that the festival season would be successful, despite its reduced length and participants: “I am confident about that, and I think the prime minister took the right decision about delaying Step 4 in terms of the long term. It’s not great for the short term, but for the longterm it was the right decision because it significantly reduced the likelihood of a reopening being followed by a re-closing.”
Discussing the Download Pilot, Benn said he was impressed by the “exceptional” level of “compliance” by attendees. All were required to take both a PCR and lateral flow test prior to the event, share details with NHS test and trace and show proof a negative result to enter the festival and are reminded they must submit a second PCR test five days post-event.
“That for me is the most important factor in getting all of this right, if you get a high level of compliance and can work from that, I believe you will also get very good results.”
Latitude is due to take place on 22-25 July at Henham Park in Suffolk, with headliners including Wolf Alice, Chemical Brothers and Bastille