Association of Festival Organisers General Secretary Steve Heap reacts to Arts Council England’s distribution of Round 1 of the Cultural Recovery Fund.

Congratulations to those who have been successful, commiserations to those who did not get the support they needed.

From what I can see so far not a lot of festivals are in the mix. The rules of application started at £50,000 so a good number of festivals simply did not need that much. Had they have gone for it they would have failed to prove their need.

Then there was the problem that most of them were cancelled in 2020 and having made staff redundant struggled to meet deadlines.

It’s hard to see quite where all the cash has gone, but I’m sure someone at Arts Council England will explain the difference between the original figure and the published amount distributed so far. That could well be good news for even more arts bodies in the future.

With more than 1,300 successful organisations, there is some hope that if the virus can be overcome soon we might just have a festival season in 2021 and a good number of arts venues and practitioners alive and well to perform.

Bearded Theory in Derbyshire, Cropredy in Oxfordshire and more than half dozen other festivals were successful in round one of the CRF. Some of the agencies that supply artists to the festivals got a helping hand too but most exciting of all is the number of performing arts companies in the list. They hopefully will now get through the sleepy winter months and be out there showing their skills next season.

Now we must ask government to understand the number of crew it takes to get an act onto the stage and drive home the point that these skilled workers are on their knees and we cannot afford to lose them and their skills.

We will not walk away from their plight now some of us have our safety net in place.

AFO will fight on for more and improved support for our festivals, our support crews and our culture.