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MPs urge chancellor to save events

More than a dozen MPs and over 100 event industry executives have signed a letter to the chancellor of the exchequer Rishi Sunak, copying in prime minister Boris Johnson, calling for him to implement a Government-backed insurance scheme for festival, live music and events or face them disappearing from our fields and cities for good.

The letter, written by DCMS Committee chair Julian Knight MP, follows the 5 January opening hearing of the Committee’s inquiry into the future of UK music festivals, during which festival operators emphasised the urgent need for Government support.

At a crucial point in festival planning schedules, MPs warn that organisers and investors are unable to risk repeating losses sustained in 2020 unless events can be insured against cancellation.

With the commercial insurance market not expected to offer Covid-related insurance until 2022, a Government-backed scheme is required for festivals to start planning their events and signing contracts with artists and suppliers.

The letter urges the Government to extend to other creative industries the underwriting schemes already offered to the film and television industries.

While the letter's top line focus is on festivals, other event types such as exhibitions and conferences are included.

Knight 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.”

Read the letter in full below:

Rt Hon Rishi Sunak MP Chancellor of the Exchequer HM Treasury
1 Horse Guards Road London
SW1A 2HQ

By email

Dear Chancellor,

6 January 2021

Festivals, live performance and live music are the lifeblood of the UK entertainment industry, providing a huge contribution to our cultural landscape and our economy. In 2019 alone, the gross value added to the economy by festivals was £1.76 billion, and almost 1 in 3 Britons watched Glastonbury on TV. Live music is also a major reason why people visit the UK’s nations and regions: in 2019 music tourists spent £460m across the Midlands alone and sustained more than 45,000 jobs nationwide.

Planning for this year’s festivals, live performances and events is taking place now, and while the vaccine rollout is cause for optimism, organisers need confidence that this work and investment will not go to waste. Central to that confidence is insurance.

Without insurance, the events we know and love simply won’t take place this year—vaccine or no vaccine. Sustaining losses like those we’ve seen in 2020 for another year isn’t an option, and hundreds of businesses in the events supply chain 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.

There are a number of forms this could take. One of these requires no upfront contribution from the Government and utilises the existing Pool Re structure, developed in response to unpredictable and devastating acts of terrorism. This would leave Treasury with a maximum liability of £1.5 billion and could be adapted to cover a range of sectors – including hospitality, sports, and leisure, as well as festivals, live performances and events.

What’s clear is that insurance is of the utmost importance when it comes to getting our economy going again across the whole of the UK. Whatever form it takes, businesses need to be able to access reliable insurance schemes to get back on track. Government underwriting is the only way this will be possible.

We call on you to act now and back the UK’s renowned events, music, festivals, hospitality and theatres, to name but a few, so that livelihoods are saved and people have something to look forward to in summer 2021 and beyond.

Yours sincerely,

Julian Knight MP, chair of the DCMS Committee

Heather Wheeler MP Giles Watling MP
Steve Brine MP
Rt Hon Damian Green MP John Nicolson MP

Clive Efford MP Kevin Brennan MP Julie Elliott MP

Association of Event Venues
Association of Events Organisers
Event Supplier and Services Association
LIVE (Live music Industry, Venues & Entertainment) The Entertainment Agents’ Association
Association for Electronic Music
Association of Festival Organisers
Association of Independent Festivals
Concert Promoters Association
International Live Music Conference
National Arenas Association
Production Services Association
Music Venue Trust
British Association of Concert Halls
Association of Independent Promoters
Music Managers Forum
Featured Artists Coalition
One Industry One Voice
Professional Lighting and Sound Association
Night Time Industries Association
The Events Industry Forum
Event & Visual Communication Association
Live Comedy Association
Hotel Booking Agents Association (HBAA)
Let Live Thrive
#WeMakeEvents
UK Music
Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society
Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers
DF Concerts & Events
Portsmouth Guildhall
Senbla Ltd
Music Publishers Association
Musicians Union
The Ivors Academy
PRS for Music
Association for Independent Music
BPI
PPL
Music Producers Guild
The Flying Music Company Ltd
Flying Entertainment Ltd
The Flying Music Group Ltd
The Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester Association of Independent Venue Producers Komedia Brighton
Brighton Unitarian Church
Summerhall, Edinburgh

Rt Hon Theresa Villiers MP, Chair of the APPG for Events Barbara Keeley MP, Chair of the APPG for Classical Music Tracy Brabin MP, former Shadow Culture Secretary David Warburton MP, Chair of the APPG for Music Harvey Goldsmith CBE

Simon Miller, Director, Yutree Insurance
Sacha Lord, Co-Founder, Warehouse Project and Parklife, Greater Manchester Night Time Economy Adviser
John Penn, Founder and Strategic Adviser, SSE Audio Group
Dave Crump, CEO Europe and Middle East, Creative Technology Group Ltd
Dave Ridgway, Director, NegEarth Ltd
Bryan Raven, Managing Director, White Light Ltd
Neil Hunt, Managing Director, ZigZag Lighting Ltd
Sean Pagel, Director, Production Services Ireland
Tom Grant, Director, Siyan Limited
Paul Stevart, Viking Audio
Rob Ashworth and Pete Robinson, Directors, dbnAudile
Gary Farrow OBE, Founder and CEO, The Corporation
Toby Leighton-Pope, Chief Executive Officer, AEG Presents
Les Kidger, Director, LCC Live Events
Dan Colman, Managing Director, Dan Colman Creative Ltd
Pablo Janczur, Director, Orchard Live

Geoff Crow, Director, 21CC Group Ltd
Barrie Marshall MBE, Chairman, Marshall Arts Ltd
David Jones, Director, Serious and EFG London Jazz Festival
Philippa Childs, Head of Bectu
Conal Dodds, Director, Crosstown Concerts
Justine Simons OBE, London’s Deputy Mayor for Culture and Creative Industries
Scott Arnold, Managing Director, Autograph Sound Recording Ltd
Mark Bonner, Managing Director, Delta Live Ltd
Bob Angus, Chairman, Metropolis Music
Stella Kanu, Executive Director, LIFT Festival
Bernard Donoghue, Director, Association of Leading Visitor Attractions Charlie Wood, Underbelly
Alex Petty, Laughing Horse Festival
Hartley Kemp, Artistic Director, C venues
James Mackenzie, ZOO Venues
John-David Henshaw, Sweet Venues
Dani Rae, Assembly Festival Ltd
Charles Pamment, theSpaceUK
Darrell Martin for Yippee Productions (Edfringe venues)
Tara Stapleton, Greenside Venues Ltd
Julian Caddy, CEO, Brighton Fringe
Steven Adams, Brighton Little Theatre
Paul Kemp, CEO, Brighton & Hove Pride
Adrian Bristow, MD, Brighton Spiegeltent
Ty Jeffries, Vaudelesque Productions
Jan Etches, General Manager, Brighton Toy and Model Museum
Kat Neeser, Brighton Fringe Venue and Artist
Peter Joannou, Brighton Fringe Venue and Artist
Ross Ericson, Grist to the Mill Productions
Michelle Yim, Red Dragonfly Productions
Nicola Haydn, Otherplace Productions
Paul Musselwhite, Komedia
Andrew Comben, CEO, Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival
Will Mytum, Brighton Open Air Theatre
David Bleese, Monkey Barrel Comedy
Ashleigh Ward, Pop-Up Brighton
Suzanne Ward, Brighton Fringe Venue and Artist
Ian Baird, MD Whiskey Bravo Productions, Brighton EPIC Chair
Karen and Katy Koren, Gilded Balloon
Drs Maddie Blackburn and Paul Dennison, Brighton Fringe, Embassy Court
John Barrow, Acoustic Music Centre, Edinburgh Fringe

cc. Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP, Prime Minister; Rt Hon Oliver Dowden MP, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport