The independent organisers of 17,000-capacity Hertfordshire festival Standon Calling have announced that the event will not take place this year, but the intention is to return in 2025.
The announcement follows complaints from performers and food vendors who claim that they are owed tens of thousands of pounds by the event’s operators following last summer’s event.
According to a BBC report, one anonymous catering business claimed it had not received the £13,000 it made during the Hertfordshire event last July.
Comedian Rhys James, one of Standon Calling’s performers last year, posted on X that he was still owed money. Mark Watson, who also appeared on the comedy stage, replied to say he had also not been paid.
Standon Calling director Alex Trenchard apologised for the “small number” of late payments and promised they are in the process of being fulfilled.
In a statement announcing the postponement of the 18th edition of Standon Calling, Trenchard said, “Over the last few months of hard work planning our return this summer, it has become clear that the costs of running the event, already considerably higher over the last two years, have significantly increased again, making it practically impossible for us to deliver the fully-formed Standon Calling.
“The painful truth is that ploughing on in this very challenging climate could risk the future of the festival. We believe that the only sensible decision is to take a fallow year for the very first time in our history, other than during the height of Covid-19, and use this time to make the 18th Standon Calling one for the ages.”
The postponement has come at a challenging time for the independent festival sector amid a period of rising costs. This year has already seen the cancellation of nine UK festivals, following the closure of 36 in 2023. In response, the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) has launched a 5% For Festivals campaign designed to inform festival-goers about the problems that music festival promoters have faced over the last five years. The aim is to encourage them to contact their MPs to lobby for a much-needed VAT reduction on tickets.
AIF CEO John Rostron said, “Standon Calling is now the ninth UK festival to announce its closure or postponement in 2024, further demonstrating the crisis that our sector is facing and the need for urgent government intervention. Festivals are being squeezed by the rise in supply chain costs, and the effects of closures and debt incurred during Covid, meaning they are in a unique, perilous position that threatens the future of almost all but the very biggest operators in the UK.
“We launched the 5% For Festivals campaign at our Festival Congress this month, urging the Government to reduce VAT on festival ticket sales from 20% to 5% – an evidence-based, simple, sensible remedy that would ease the financial burden on promoters enough for them to return to health. We need this action now, and encourage the public to visit fivepercentforfestivals.com, write to their MPs and support events so their favourite festivals don’t make 2024 their last.”