Over half of Britain’s independent music festivals have now cancelled this year. Just let this sink in for a second. A sector that generates an estimated £1.76billion for the U.K. annually continues to decline as its events become financially unviable due to laws and regulations regarding Covid-19. Minimal insurance and minister ineptitude has combined to promote fury in an industry known for celebrating peace and unity.
And over the past year and a half, unity is an endeavour many of us have been trying hard to achieve. The Euros has temporarily consolidated Britain in the name of sport, but beyond July 11, our country has very little in live spectacle to look forward to.
Currently, as we all know, it’s July 19 when clubs and festivals can fully reintegrate into our programming. For many, after months of gruelling isolation, live music will rekindle hedonistic lifestyles and hopefully evoke some much needed happiness.
Since results were released for the Government's first wave of piloted events, the live music industry has demanded reopening on July 19. Across the 9 spectacles, which included 58,000 attendees, 28 cases of positive tests were reported, and only 11 were said to be potentially infectious. However, a mere 15% of participants took PCR tests after the events, meaning most of these findings are based on the more inaccurate lateral flow testing system. The Government, however, did not make it obligatory to perform PCRs.
So, as teens cross their powdery keys and festival organisers pray for their wiggy weekenders to go ahead, will we actually see a return to Britain’s mud-lands this year?
Since Matt Hancock’s scandal splurged across our paper’s front pages, Sajid Javid (the new health secretary) has made some interesting comments in regards to coronavirus. He is adamant that July 19 will go ahead, remarking that we need to learn to live with the virus like we do with the flu. This declaration of pragmatism doesn’t confirm the return for festivals, but it at least shows some initiative that Covid-19 is simply uncontainable.
What has been containable however, is the cancellations of Britain’s live events. A lack of certainty has made it difficult for owners to fully commit to their festivities, which cost an average of £6 million to host. With more guidance, planners could better understand the government’s motifs for July 19. Currently, all restrictions, including the wearing of face-masks in shops, will be lifted, but after the disappointment of June 21, it feels like there could be several more bombshells in this never-ending viral saga.
Between 18th-20th June, 10,000 rockers reunited at Donnington Park for Download Festival, which is owned by Festival Republic - one of the U.K's largest events promoters. Latitude, which is ran by the same organisation, will also take place this month, as part of the Government's 2nd phase of events research. "The additional research collected at Latitude will benefit all festivals and live events moving forward," said festival director Melvin Benn in a statement last week. Independent events, unfortunately, are not experiencing the same opportunities or level of clarification that the likes of Download and Latitude are.
In more positive news, Standon Calling are confident they will be returning on July 22. Considering the comments made by Sajid Javid and the data published after the last round of ERP events, the independent festival is planning to go ahead. This is despite “the lack of clear and timely guidance and the absence of Government backed insurance”, which the Standon Calling team has said to be a “challenge not only to ourselves but to the entire festival industry”.
Tramlines will also return at 40,000 capacity, which will be Europe’s largest festival since the start of the pandemic. It will take place on the same weekend as Standon Calling. This recent accumulation of industry positivity has been contradicted by the cancellation of smaller events like Truck and Kendall Calling, but MP’s like Julian Knight are beginning to realise how poorly the sector has been treated. Cross-party committees have called on the Government to take action “before it’s too late”, but there does remain a severe lack of confidence in the sector regarding this summer’s festivities.
As a publication reliant on live music, we would give an arm, leg, and any other tangible limb to be in a field with everyone this summer. We have thoroughly missed the feeling of togetherness you simply do not get anywhere other than Britain's culture crammed vast-lands. We will be (touch wood) going to We Out Here and Lost Village this year, so check back here for any previews and reviews on them.