Some of the UK’s most legendary performers are among those calling on the UK Government to commit to underwrite cancellation costs of events such as music festivals and tours, to enable the restart of the live entertainment sector from this summer. Alongside industry experts and trade associations, Jools Holland, Depeche Mode, Johnny Marr, Sir Cliff Richard, Robert Plant, Roger Daltrey, Amy McDonald, The Chemical Brothers, Frank Turner and Judas Priest have all added their name to the chorus of voices calling for a government-backed scheme.
The news comes as results from a new YouGov survey show that half of the UK population want to go to a live event this summer, while 75% believe live events are critical to British culture. Whilst recent news of mass ticket purchasing following the roadmap announcement is positive, it is even more critical for a government-backed insurance scheme to be in place to safeguard the industry.
Sir Cliff Richard said: “Our business brings inspiration and happiness into people’s lives. We can make them smile when they are sad and help them sing when they have nothing to sing about. We need the government to help us plan for when it is safe to resume.”
Industry experts say that Britain’s live music and events industry can get back to work tomorrow without the government spending one pound – as long as it pledges to meet costs arising from any future cancellations caused by COVID. By making this promise, HM Treasury can bridge the gap for COVID cancellation insurance and support the UK’s live entertainment industries.
Earlier this week the Government published its roadmap out of lockdown, but despite this hugely positive announcement, coverage against COVID is no longer available in the commercial insurance market and is not expected to return for some time. In the interim, it can only be provided by the government acting as a backstop to give event organisers the confidence they need to start booking venues and working with suppliers.
Tim Thornhill, Director of Tysers Entertainment and Sport Division and live entertainment insurance industry veterans Bob Taylor and John Silcock, are working closely with live music industry umbrella organisation LIVE and insurance industry colleagues to urge the government to work with industry to find a solution.
Tim Thornhill commented: “The government has successfully created a scheme that has enabled the film and television industries to get back to work. Now they need to do the same for the live events industry. But the window of opportunity for this summer will slam shut very shortly. The government needs to act now.
“The live events industry is a massive employer and a significant generator of economic activity. Music alone employs over 200,000 people, with music tourism contributing £4.7bn to the UK economy*. The new YouGov survey shows that demand is there – they will buy tickets and spend on accommodation, food and drink. The government can unlock this boost to the economy at no cost to themselves, just a commitment to help underwrite the cost of cancellations should they occur.”
Greg Parmley, CEO of LIVE added: “Governments in Germany, Austria, Norway, the Netherlands and elsewhere are already backing schemes to allow production companies and their staff to plan for a safe return to live events. The UK rollout of the vaccine is cause for optimism in creating events that are safe but the industry will be significantly hampered without COVID event cancellation insurance.”
The industry’s call for action supports the letter to Rishi Sunak, Chancellor of the Exchequer, from Julian Knight, Chair of the DCMS Select Committee, which warned that festival organisers and investors are unable to risk repeating losses sustained in 2020, unless the cost of events can be insured against cancellation.
Schemes in place for film and TV
MPs, backed by 40 industry associations, including industry umbrella groups LIVE (Live music Industry Venues and Entertainment) and UK Music are also urging the Government to extend existing underwriting schemes, such as the £500m fund set up for the film and television sector, to “other creative industries”, including live music, to allow them to get on with organising events.
*All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1,697 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 12–13 February 2021. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).
*Music By Numbers 2020 report.