UK Sector Awaiting Clarity On Distribution Of $2Bn Rescue Fund

Mosa Wild at Barn On The Farm
Daniel Alexander Harris
– Mosa Wild at Barn On The Farm
The festival in Gloucester, England, is one of AIF’s 65 member festivals.

The UK government has pledged a £1.57 billion ($1.96 billion) rescue fund for cultural businesses including museums, galleries, theatres, independent cinemas, heritage sites and music venues.
The country’s Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) seeks reassurance that festivals have not been left out.
While the UK’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) stated that “live music” is among the sectors that will benefit, it hasn’t specified whether any of the money will go towards the festival industry.
“We are still yet to see any concrete, financial support for festivals (independent or otherwise) during this crisis,” an AIF statement reads.
AIF CEO Paul Reed commented: “The AIF has had close contact with DCMS throughout the lockdown period, helping them to understand the needs of UK festivals during this difficult time.”
“We have urged government to offer a robust financial package to the sector to ensure its survival,” said Reed.
Paul Reed
– Paul Reed

Festivals contribute an estimated £1.75 billion in Gross Value Added to the UK economy annually and support 85,000 jobs across the country, according to AIF’s own research.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, AIF expects the UK’s festival sector to miss out on an entire year’s worth of income in 2020 and have lost an average of £375,000 ($470,000) per event. 
Many are facing collapse, with redundancies of 59% expected across the sector without urgent government intervention. 
“The time for lip service is over. UK festivals have, to date, largely fallen through the cracks when it comes to financial aid and business support. Boris Johnson has told Parliament that he is doing all he can to support our ‘very, very valuable sector’ but we are yet to see evidence of that. 
“We need the Prime Minister to back this up with meaningful action and confirm that festival organisers will be eligible to access this emergency support package,” said Reed.
AIF is particularly worried, as other vital parts of the UK’s live music sector did get mentioned in the DCMS announcement, including live music venues.
The UK’s Music Venue Trust stated, “The money, which represents the biggest ever one-off investment in UK culture, will provide a lifeline to vital cultural and heritage organisations across the country hit hard by the pandemic. It will help them stay afloat while their doors are closed. Funding to restart paused projects will also help support employment, including freelancers working in these sectors.”
UK Music’s acting CEO Tom Kiehl said, “A £1.57 billion support package for the arts is a huge step forward and should be a lifesaver for many music venues.”
Wireless Festival UK 2020 got cancelled due to the ban on public gatherings.
Luke Dyson
– Wireless Festival UK 2020 got cancelled due to the ban on public gatherings.
It hosted a virtual edition on the festival weekend, July 3-5, in cooperation with MelodyVR. The lineup included Stefflon Don.

He emphasized, that “those that don’t have a track record of public funding must also not be put at a disadvantage. We are seeking urgent talks with Arts Council England to discuss further.”

As the country’s Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) has pointed out, many of the manufacturing, construction and logistics companies, which are directly supporting the creative industry, fear they will not be categorised as “cultural organisations” and therefore not be eligible for government grants and loans.
Theaters were also singled out in the DCMS announcement. Erica Whyman, deputy artistic director at The Royal Shakespeare Company wrote in a post for The Stage: “I’m frightened, too, that the scale of the challenge to distribute these funds equitably and effectively, in ways that protect the most vulnerable and the most needed in the theatre, will be beyond us.”
Whyman also addressed the second of three factors, aside from financial aid and compensation schemes for the sector’s workforce, which will be crucial for business to pick back up: clarity on reopening timelines.
“These challenges require energy and clarity of thought, and must be met while desperately seeking clarity on how to actually open our theatres. But I have hope, and not only because of the scale of this investment. I have hope because collaboration is what we know: safely but courageously speaking truth to one another, making us all sharper and readier,” Whyman wrote.
Last week, more than 1,500 artists and thousands of venues and crew issued an urgent plea for support from the UK government for a sector that contributes £4.5 billion ($5.6 billion) to the country’s economy annually, and is currently paralyzed due to COVID-19 restrictions.
The campaign ran under the hashtag #LetTheMusicPlay and was co-signed by Ed Sheeran, The Rolling Stones, Dua Lipa, Sir Paul McCartney, Skepta, Rita Ora, Coldplay, Dame Shirley Bassey, Eric Clapton, Annie Lennox, Sam Smith, Sir Rod Stewart, Liam Gallagher, Florence + the Machine, George Ezra, Depeche Mode, Iron Maiden, Lewis Capaldi, and Little Mix, to name just a few.
Live Nation’s Phil Bowdery, chair of the UK’s Concert Promoters’ Association, commented: “We asked for three things, and today it looks like the first of those – a financial support package – has been granted. We’re looking forward to clarification that this package safeguards our whole ecosystem – from our artists and crews, to our festivals, venues and many professionals – and working closely with the government to deliver it.”