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"A wasteland": UK's festival scene on verge of permanent collapse

(Image credit: LEON NEAL / Getty)

The Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) has warned that the UK could face an independent festival wasteland in 2021, unless the government takes 'decisive' action to support the sector.

This is not a temporary shutdown of business – it is an entire year of income and trade wiped out

Paul Reed, AIF CEO

The AIF estimates that the industry is facing refunds of up to £800m this summer, with more than 90% of festivals now extremely unlikely to take place.

92% of firms surveyed told the AIF that they are under imminent risk of permanent collapse and that the sector could be facing redundancies of 59% of its workforce.

Paul Reed, CEO of AIF said in a statement, “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.

Reed said 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 the AIF has called for a series of government measures to protect and preserve the scene.

The measures called for include 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.

You can read the full statement at the AIF website.