The Future of UK Music Festivals

I joined Phil Williams on Times Radio last night to speak about the upcoming DCMS inquiry into the festivals sector. Read more here

DCMS have invited the sector to share what is required to get us up and running in 2021, and I shared some of my thoughts.

Listen to the segment here, at the 2-hour mark

We can’t have a ‘one size fits all’ approach to hospitality, and recent months have shown that some of the steps taken by the Government show a lack of understanding of what some specific sectors – like festivals – need to continue operating.

So, what can be done?

I recommended a three-pronged approach:

Extension of the VAT rate cut, or making it permanent.
The VAT rate cut for the hospitality sector to 5% was a good first step, but its initial deadline of January meant it would have little positive effect on our sector. Most festivals make the bulk of their ticket revenue from the end of January onwards, not to mention the vital role played by our bar and merch sales at the festival itself. While I welcome this being extended further, to March 2021, we can do more. By keeping the VAT rate at 5% for the full 2021 financial year, or even making it permanent, we’ll have an easy win to help aid our recovery.

Mass Testing clarity
The Government’s policy on mass testing needs to clear well in advance of the festival season. The infrastructure and planning required to make large-scale events happen means we need to make a call in March (or earlier) as to whether we can go ahead in the summer. By laying out a clear timeline and policy of their stance on mass testing in advance, the Government will help us to make the necessary decisions without incurring unnecessary overheads.

Protecting the CRF Losers and Freelance Workforce
Finding ways to protect those who lost out on the Culture Recovery Fund scheme will allow us to care for all elements of our ecosystem. Staging a major event requires the input of huge agencies and individual freelancers alike, and losing any part of that ecosystem makes events difficult, if not unviable. We still have millions of freelancers and sole traders left behind, and while our industry is paused, without support many talented and vital cogs in our system will leave the industry. We risk a potentially damaging ‘brain drain’ domino effect.

You can find out more about the DCMS inquiry and submit your recommendations here