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Appeal to extend insurance schemes for live events

The live events industry has hit the news this week following an appeal by The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee to extend government backed insurance schemes to the sector.

The DCMS Committee has warned Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, that the live events industry faces ruin if insurance against cancelled events can’t be guaranteed. It comes after AIF issued a five-point plan this week to MPs as part of an inquiry into the future of UK music festivals.

They are calling for five key interventions from government to support the festival sector’s safe return in 2021:

1. A conditional start date – A clear timeline for ‘Stage 5’ reopening in Spring 2021 outlining exact ‘no earlier than’ dates and the kind of activity that will be permitted.

2. A government backed reinsurance scheme for festivals and other live events.

3. A VAT extension. A three-year extension to the reduced 5% cultural VAT rate on tickets in line with current DCMS Select Committee recommendations. 

4. Sector specific financial support until the industry recovers, and further support if the industry is not able to fully return in 2021.

5. Premises license fee rollovers. AIF urges all local authorities to waive ‘capacity multiplier’ fees for festivals this year, to roll over any fees paid to at least next year, and to remove festivals on agricultural land from the business rates system.

Witnesses at the DCMS hearing included Boomtown’s Anna Wade, Parklife co-founder Sacha Lord,UK Music CEO Jamie Njoku-Goodwin and Steve Heap, general secretary, Association of Festival Organisers.

Parklife co-founder Sacha Lord, commented during a parliamentary interview that “the freelancers and supply chain would be wiped out if we had another year like 2020.”

“Without insurance, the events we know and love simply won’t take place this year,” the DCMS committee said.

“Sustaining losses like those we’ve seen in 2020 for another year isn’t an option, and hundreds of businesses… have already been forced to fold.”

“The government has backed insurance for the film and television industry to the tune of £500 million. It’s now time to do this for other creative industries.”

The live events industry suffered tremendously during 2020, with 90% of the gigs planned for the year cancelled. In 2019, festivals contributed £1.76 billion in gross value to the UK economy.

DCMS Committee Chair Julian Knight MP said:

“The Government is telling us that life should be getting back to normal by the summer but unless it can provide a safety net, it will be a summer without festivals. The industry says that without government-backed insurance, many festivals and live music events just won’t happen because organisers can’t risk getting their fingers burnt for a second year.

“The Committee has heard from festival organisers that this is a matter of urgency. Insurance must be the first step in unlocking the huge contribution that festivals make to our economy, protecting not only the supply chains, but the musicians who rely on them for work.

“The Government already offers a level of cover to the film and television industries, now is the time to extend support to other creative industries or risk losing some of our best loved and world-renowned festivals.”