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AIF: 92% of independent festivals could go to the wall unless government take action

(Image credit: Getty)

The Association Of Independent Festivals (AIF) report that 92% of the firms they represent could go to the wall unless the UK government take action to help them financially.

That stark figure is based on impact surveys that have been taken in light of the coronavirus pandemic which has caused chaos in the live music scene, with 90% of all UK festivals predicted to be cancelled this year.

The AIF are calling on government intervention as businesses could collapse due to refund requests from cancelled events, while an average of 59% of staff in the independent festival sector could be facing redundancy without adequate support measures in place.

CEO of the AIF Paul Reed says: “While the government has been receptive to AIF’s counsel, it has not taken meaningful action to protect our sector. 

“Single event festival companies are seasonal businesses. They need urgent support now and ongoing support after lockdown ends and restrictions are eased. This is not a temporary shutdown of business – it is an entire year of income and trade wiped out. 

“If support is not offered throughout the autumn, then the sector will face widespread job losses that will seriously inhibit its ability to deliver events in 2021.

If support is not offered throughout the autumn, then the sector will face widespread job losses

Paul Reed, CEO of the AIF

“There is no safety net for independent festivals, many of which have fallen between the cracks of current government support measures such as loans and grants. For example, 0% of AIF members have been able to successfully access the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans Scheme.”

Reed says that festivals across the UK are not only “an intrinsic, defining part of British culture" but also "an economic powerhouse that generates hundreds of millions for the economy – and we urge government to recognise them as such.”

He adds: “Next year’s festival season will hopefully offer much-needed relief after a very difficult time for the country. But, for now, these independent businesses need to survive. Otherwise, every year from now could be a fallow year for independent festivals, for the emerging artists they provide a platform for, and the local economies across the UK that they generate income for.”

The AIF are calling on the government to put in place a number of measures, including for them to recognise the distinction between retail and seasonal businesses in terms of ongoing business support; a continuation of all furloughing and self-employed schemes and business support packages until festivals can get to the planning and sales stages of 2021, and VAT breaks on ticket sales for a minimum of 18 months.

In April, bioethicist Zeke Emanuel said he didn’t think concerts and sporting events would resume until the autumn of 2021 at the earliest, while last week, Dr Chris Smith said this year “is basically a write-off” for the UK’s live music scene.