Following the announcement of the Treasury’s insurance scheme for events including music festivals, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden writes for Music Week on the government’s support for the return of live music...
Over the last few weekends, tens of thousands of people have packed into fields in Suffolk, Dorset and elsewhere to enjoy the very first full-capacity music festivals since lockdown began.
After 18 months of cancellations, restrictions and disruptions, the return of festivals like Latitude, Bestival, and of packed theatres, music halls and sports stadiums, have felt like more than live events. They have been a long-missed and very welcome taste of the way things used to be. Now it’s time to make them the norm again.
Faced with one of the worst peacetime crises in modern history, our plan for live events has always been to rescue them from disaster, allow them to reopen as soon as possible and then support them to recover.
Having stabilised live events through unprecedented government rescue packages like our £2 billion Culture Recovery Fund, the £600m Sports Survival package and interventions like the furlough scheme, and with the remarkable success of our vaccine rollout and the four steps of our roadmap ticked off, we’re now in a position to look to the future.
So today we’re throwing our full weight behind festivals, shows, business events and others, with a government-backed insurance scheme that allows them to plan with confidence.
I know event organisers are raring to go. But after a year of uncertainty and disruption they’ve understandably questioned whether they have the security needed to put on events months in the planning.
Instead, we made sure that the live events could weather the Covid storm through some of the largest emergency support packages in the world.
The Culture Recovery Fund alone has supported more than 5,000 beloved cultural and heritage organisations, from some of the West End’s biggest producers to local festivals, and historic railways to nightclubs.
The UK’s live events put us on the map, with our festivals watched around the world
But now that audiences can return in full and vaccines have reduced the danger of further restrictions, it’s time to make the most of the UK’s jab bonus. Thanks to our particularly impressive progress, the UK economy is set to grow by 7% this year, according to the IMF - faster than any major economy in Europe.
So let’s get it firing - and let’s do so by powering up our live events industry, which is worth more than £70 billion to the UK economy annually and supports more than 700,000 jobs nationwide.
The UK’s live events put us on the map, with our festivals watched around the world and international conferences like the Southampton Boat Show contributing to a total £165 billion in events-related trade.
Today we’re bridging the gap in the market. Thanks to our government-backed scheme, festivals, trade shows and others will now be able to plan for the next 12 months with confidence.
We’ve worked closely with insurers and the events industry to design a scheme that offers some of the most extensive cover of any country in the world, and I cannot wait to see it put into practice.
Just think how much we have to look forward to when that happens. These are the things that truly make life worth living: the packed-out field of festival goers, the buzzing hum of the audience just before the lights go down.
We’ve so sorely missed these moments - but now it’s time to embrace real life at its fullest once again.
Click here for all the reaction to the government's insurance scheme.