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UK fests cancel as industry calls for new fund

As more UK festivals cancel, the live industry has written to prime minister Boris Johnson asking for a ring-fenced portion of the Culture Recovery Fund (CRF) to create a new contingency fund for live events.

The email landed in Johnson’s inbox just hours before the 70,000-capacity Boomtown festival became the latest casualty to cancel due an ongoing lack of insurance for events.

The letter, which is signed by all members of LIVE (Live music Industry, Venues and Entertainment), UK Music, as well as Festival Republic’s Melvin Benn, Live Nation UK & Ireland chairman Denis Desmond, and Kilimanjaro’s Stuart Galbraith, references being “at an impasse” with DCMS and Treasury officials, and emphasises “a complete market failure in the insurance market with regards to the provision of Covid-related cancellation cover”.

“There is simply no better or more efficient way to use CRF funds to drive money through the live music ecosystem”

“…we would like to formally propose that a material portion of the remaining fund is used to create a contingency scheme in order to stimulate economic activity in the summer and beyond. This could work by covering a proportion of an organiser’s costs if they were forced to cancel for Public Health grounds.”

It goes on to say “there is simply no better or more efficient way to use CRF funds to drive money through the live music ecosystem – from artists and venues to technical staff and freelance crew – than to enable people to get people back to work.”

Similar compensation schemes have been announced in Germany (€2.5bn), Austria (€300m), the Netherlands (€300m), Belgium (€60m), Norway (€34m), Denmark (DKK 500m) and Estonia (€6m). But while the UK Government is underwriting the cancellation costs of all forthcoming Events Research Programme pilot shows – to a maximum of £300,000 per event – officials are reticent to agree to a scheme more broadly.

“After almost half a year of campaigning, sadly Covid specific cancellation insurance for events simply does not exist”

Independent festival Boomtown had planned to go ahead this year with a scaled-down event but organisers have said that time has run out to find a solution to ‘the mind-boggling conundrum of putting on a safe and well-run event to the sheer scale, complexity and intricate nature’.

“With less than four months to go until the event, and after almost half a year of collective campaigning to the government, sadly Covid specific cancellation insurance for events simply does not exist at this point in time,” reads a statement on the festival’s website.

“This means anyone putting on an event this year, will be doing so without the safety net of insurance to cover them should Covid prevent them from going ahead in any capacity. For an independent event as large and complex as Boomtown, this means a huge gamble into an 8-figure sum to lose if we were to venture much further forward, and then not be able to go ahead due to Covid.”

“It’s unlikely that we’ll be able to weather the storm of no events happening in 2021”

Anna Wade, communications and strategy director at the Winchester-based festival, has been vocal about the need for government-backed insurance and gave evidence at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Select Committee’s inquiry into safeguarding the future of the sector in January.

During the hearing, she said: “It’s unlikely that we’ll be able to weather the storm of no events happening in 2021. Most festival organisers only hold one event and that is the one opportunity in the year. Without that, we don’t have a company essentially.”

Though the festival was awarded £991,000 in the latest round of the CRF, the organisers say “the reality is it represents only a fraction of the costs (under 10%) involved in creating an event to the sheer scale and ambition of Boomtown”.

“The lack of appropriate government backed cancellation insurance, has rendered this year too great a risk”

Boomtown Chapter One: The Gathering will now take place from 10–14 August 2022.

“The cancellation of Boomtown Fair is devastating but not surprising, and further festival cancellations will follow,” says Paul Reed, CEO, Association of Independent Festivals (AIF). “AIF has been warning and providing evidence to the government for over six months on the urgent need for intervention on insurance. It is an enormous risk for any independent festival to commit to upfront, non-refundable costs and very difficult to plan with confidence in the absence of insurance. The average cost of staging an independent festival is over £6m.”

Barn on the Farm, which would have taken place in Gloucestershire between 1–4 July 2021, has also cancelled today as “the potential risk [of going ahead] is too large”.

In a statement on the festival’s website, the organisers write: “Although the government roadmap is running on track, with us falling only 10 days after the end date for restrictions lifting we feel there remains too much uncertainty for us to safely continue this year. This, coupled with the lack of appropriate government backed cancellation insurance, has rendered this year unfortunately too great a risk for us to continue planning in the festival’s current format.”

“The cancellation of Boomtown Fair is devastating but not surprising, and further festival cancellations will follow”

Last week, Shambala, which was slated to celebrate its 20 anniversary from 27–30 August in a secret Northamptonshire location, was called off.

“As a totally independent festival, even with the amazing support you lot have shown us over the last year and the CRF grant we received, without government-backed insurance a last-minute cancellation would risk the very future of Shambala. That’s not a gamble we are willing to take,” reads a statement on the festival’s website.

Whilst we very much hope that the various targets in the roadmap are met and restrictions are lifted in mid-June, there’s still a very real possibility that social distancing measures will still be in place. With this in mind, we’ve been engaged in a somewhat nightmarish game of Tetris over the past few months trying to envisage how Shambala could work. The short answer is, it couldn’t. It just wouldn’t be Shambala.”

“Without government-backed insurance a last-minute cancellation would risk the very future of Shambala”

The festival has decided to “wipe the slate clean” and refund all ticket holds, instead of offering rollovers. However, current ticket holders will have tickets reserved for them to purchase next year before they go on general release.

“For various reasons, and for us to be in the best position to bounce back and be nimble in 2022, we need to manage it this way.”

In lieu of the flagship event, Shambala has introduced ‘Camp Kindling’, a number of creative camping weekends.

Camp Kindling will take place on 23–26 July, 30 July–2 August and 6–9 August 2021. More information will be published on Shambala’s website in due course.

“Considering the lengthy planning cycle of festivals, it is difficult to think anything other than we are being timed out for the summer”

Other UK festivals including Glastonbury, Download, Belladrum, Cornbury Music Festival, Bluedot, Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival, Cambridge Folk Festival and Margate’s Hi-Tide have already called it quits, citing a lack of security for large events.

A recent AIF member survey revealed that 92.5% of respondents do not plan on staging their events without some form of government-backed insurance or indemnity scheme, with the measure being described as vital not optional.

“Considering the lengthy planning cycle of festivals, it is difficult to think anything other than we are being timed out for the summer,” says Reed, AIF.

“Governments across the rest of Europe have already acted to support festivals, sharing the risk with organisers so that they may reopen safely. If this government doesn’t intervene in some way on insurance and back its own roadmap, I’m afraid that, despite the rhetoric, it won’t be a great British summer for events – it will be an extremely selective one despite the clear demand and huge amount of customer confidence that the roadmap has injected.”

 


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UK festivals benefit from substantial CRF grants

Glastonbury, Boomtown Fair and Cheltenham Jazz Festival have been awarded substantial grants in round two of the UK government’s £1.57bn Culture Recovery Fund (CRF2).

The 2,700 recipients of the CRF2 were announced last Friday by culture secretary Oliver Dowden, who said Glastonbury’s £900,000 grant would help the festival stage two smaller events this year, including the recently announced Live at Worthy Farm, and would help sustain it until 2022.

Boomtown was awarded £991,000, which the organisers say will secure the future of the festival, and Cheltenham Jazz Festival was awarded £290,000.

Other festivals to benefit in the latest round of the CRF are Sea Change Festival (£126,000), Standon Calling (£418,465), Y Not Festival (£120,000), Towersey Festival £104,000), Bestival and Camp Bestival founder Rob da Banks’ Sunday Best Recordings Ltd (£92,000), Noisily Festival (£78,000), Strawberries and Creem (£75,000) and Nozstock (£32,000).

The Association of Independent Festivals (AIF), confirmed that 70% of the members who applied for a grant in CRF2 have been offered funding, which amounts to over £5.5m with an average grant of almost £126,000.

“We thank the Treasury, DCMS and Arts Council England for this lifeline, and for investing in some of this summer’s independent festivals, enabling them to survive and continue planning in the short term,” says Paul Reed, CEO at AIF.

Thanks to the funding we’ve received from the government’s #CultureRecoveryFund we’re all set to build on our digital…

Posted by Cheltenham Festivals on Friday, April 2, 2021

 

“AIF worked tirelessly to ensure that festivals were eligible for the fund in the first place, and to support and service members at every step – sharing information, engaging funding specialists, organising online sessions and working around the clock to support applications.

“This latest government support is invaluable. However, as with the first round, it is important to note that this money did not reach the entire sector, that it will only support some festivals until the end of June and that hurdles remain before festivals are able to plan with confidence – not least the absence of a government intervention on insurance. It is also critically important that the Events Research Programme explores challenges and mitigations around all types of events including festivals.”

Among the grassroots venues to receive grants from the CRF2 are Hull’s The New Adelphi Club (£30,000), The Louisiana in Bristol (£63,000), Cambridge Junction (£248,083), Brudenell Social Club (£213,853) in Leeds and London’s Troubadour (£272,828).

https://twitter.com/BoomtownFair/status/1377886248363249671

Music Venue Trust (MVT) strategic director, Beverley Whitrick, says: “MVT has worked hard to support eligible grassroots music venues in their applications to this fund and we are delighted that members of the Music Venues Alliance (MVA) have now been awarded almost £16million in support.

“This represents an 80% success rate for MVA members, many of whom had never applied for public funding prior to this pandemic. This money is aimed at securing venues until the end of June 2021.”

Music Venue Trust represents over 900 venues across the UK.

Other successful applicants of the CRF2 include event industry suppliers and service providers such as A&J Big Tops Limited (£545,000), AB Lighting (£79,000) and Symphotech (£60,000).

The CRF was increased by £300m earlier this year as part of chancellor Rishi Sunak’s March budget.

For the full list of recipients, visit the Arts Council England website.

 


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British fests sell out as more confirm 2021 dates

Three of the UK’s most popular music festivals, Reading Festival, Creamfields and Boomtown, have sold out their 2021 editions in the past 24 hours, underlining the huge demand for festival tickets among locked-down British live music fans.

Festival Republic’s Reading Festival, which normally has a capacity of 105,000, was one of several festivals to confirm this week they intend to go ahead in 2021, taking place alongside its sister Leeds Festival in the last weekend in August.

All weekend tickets for Leeds Festival (75,000-cap.) are also gone, according to the festivals’ Twitter account, with only limited Friday and Sunday day tickets remaining.

Dance music festival Creamfields, promoted by Live Nation UK’s Cream Holdings, says it sold out in record time ahead of its return this summer. The festival, which has run since 1998 (since 2006 in its current location on the 70,000-capacity Daresbury estate in Cheshire), also takes place across the August bank holiday weekend (26–29 August).

That many fans held onto their 2020 tickets, says Cream, is “positive news for the live music industry, which has largely remained closed over the last 12 months. The news follows the prime minister’s ‘roadmap’ address on Monday that allows the safe return of large-scale outdoor events this summer.”

“This is positive news for the live music industry, which has largely remained closed over the last 12 months”

British prime minister Boris Johnson announced on Monday (22 February) that all lockdown measures should be lifted in England from 21 June, theoretically allowing large outdoor events such as festivals to take place with no restrictions. Industry response to the announcement was largely positive, though live music businesses and associations are seeking more clarity as to what will be possible.

Among the 300 artists and DJs performing at Creamfields 2021 are Bicep, Afrojack, Alesso, Carl Cox, Pete Tong, pendulum, Gorgon City, Sub Focus, Claptone, Sigma, Andy C, Martin Garrix, Sigma and Nina Kraviz.

Independent festival Boomtown, which typically has a capacity of more than 70,000, has scaled down its event for this year’s ‘Chapter One: The Gathering’-themed festival, which celebrates a “post-pandemic world” of “connection, community and celebration”. The line-up will also be kept secret until around a week before the festival.

Explaining the decision last year, organisers said: “[T]here are many aspects to the way the music industry runs that don’t work for independent festivals. The complex process of releasing a music line-up, with the exclusivity, billing and escalating costs ,has led us to decide this is the time to rethink the way we approach it and explore new ways of doing things.

“We have always been a creatively led festival and people attend Boomtown because of the overall experience.  We will continue to book incredible headline artists, and all the festival favourites, but by approaching our programming announcements in this radical way, we can create line-ups that are even more phenomenal and diverse than we have ever been able to before.”

“The anticipation to get back to showcasing the best in new music has never been greater”

Fans responded to the change, with over 90% of 2020 ticket holders declining a refund, and tickets for the 2021 edition, held as usual near Winchester in Hampshire, selling out last night.

Also riding the wave of fan demand is London’s Field Day, which announced just before 9pm yesterday (25 February) that it, too, had sold out its 2021 edition and second outing at the post-industrial Drumsheds venue in Enfield, north London.

Like its cancelled 2020 festival, Field Day 2021 will be a one-day, electronic music-focused event headlined by DJs Bicep. Other performers playing the Drumsheds, which has a capacity of 25,000, include Maribou State, Ross from Friends, Floating Points and Adelphi Music Factory.

https://twitter.com/fielddaylondon/status/1365040858198921216

The sellouts come as more festivals confirm they will be going ahead later this summer, with Liverpool Sound City, Gala Festival, Wilderness and Mighty Hoopla all announcing or re-confirming their 2021 dates in the wake of Johnson’s announcement.

“I can’t believe that it’s been nearly two years since the last time we came together at Sound City, and the anticipation to get back to showcasing the best in new music has never been greater,” says Sound City MD Becky Ayres. “Enjoying amazing new artists in incredible venues is what makes Sound City great, and we’re excited to bring together genre-pushing favourites, thrilling live bands and must-see moments this October.”

Sound City 2021 takes place from 1 to 3 October with artists including the Lathums, Rejjie Snow, the Mysterines, Red Rum Club and the Murder Capital.

 


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UK festival industry warns of ‘wipeout’ at DCMS inquiry

Key stakeholders in the UK’s festival industry today gave evidence at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Select Committee’s inquiry into safeguarding the future of the sector, which has been ‘decimated’ due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The inquiry heard from Sacha Lord, co-founder, Parklife and The Warehouse Project and nighttime economy advisor for Greater Manchester; Anna Wade, communications and strategy director, Boomtown Fair; Steve Heap, general secretary, Association of Festival Organisers (AOF); Jamie Njoku-Goodwin, chief executive, UK Music and Paul Reed, chief executive, Association of Independent Festivals (AIF).

The witnesses gave evidence on a number of challenges facing the sector and conveyed the urgent need for further government support to avoid a ‘total wipeout’ of the festival ecosystem.

Among the participants’ key demands was an indicative date for a full return to live; a government-backed coronavirus cancellation scheme; a three-year extension of the VAT reduction and an extension for business rates relief.

“If organisers don’t have certainty, confidence and some sense of financial security, there’ll be major cancellations within weeks”

Indicative date for full return to live
Participants unanimously agreed that one of the most pressing requirements from the government is an indicative date for festivals to return to full scale and without social distancing, which would allow organisers to either proceed with their events or cancel.

AIF’s Reed said: “Right now is when organisers have to make key decisions. If they don’t have certainty, confidence and some sense of financial security for summer events, then there’ll be major cancellations within weeks.”

UK Music’s Njoku-Goodwin said: “We have a vaccine on the way. It’s being rolled out and there’s a timetable for that. The public target for ministers has been two million vaccines every week and if we know our testing capacity and the testing situation is going to be at a certain point by a certain time, we should be able to have some sort of roadmap for live. If you’ve got that sort of data and information, there should be a way to calculate or make some sort of political determination or judgement for an indicative date for a return.”

Boomtown’s Wade said: “There’s a challenging road in front of us but not impossible. We need the government to understand our timeline because we can’t roll something out quickly – it’s a very very complex operation to put on festivals. Normality might resume but that doesn’t necessarily give us a green light.”

“Insurance is the first key in the door that will unlock everything else”

Government-backed insurance scheme
Citing insurance schemes rolled out in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, UK Music’s Njoku-Goodwin expressed concerns that the UK would be at a competitive disadvantage if the government doesn’t prevail with our own scheme: “I think the real danger here is that if we see a lot of countries – particularly in Europe or close to home – protecting their festival seasons, you could have a sort of a talent transfer. We don’t want to have a situation where musicians, crews, technicians and people who should be working in and supporting the UK festival scene are looking to the continent thinking ‘actually if there’s going to be live music happening there in 2021, that’s where we are going to be’.”

AIF’s Reed reiterated the need for a government-backed insurance scheme, adding that none of AIF’s member festivals will be able to go ahead in 2021 without it: “Without government intervention, festivals will simply cancel early and on mass. It’s still too early to tell in a binary sense whether the season is on or off, but for the larger festivals, [the decision of whether or not to cancel] will come by the end of this month and for some of the smaller ones it’s March but they are all reaching a point at which they will need to commit that upfront capital and make a determination on the event for this year.”

Addressing the government’s claims that an insurance plan should be the final hurdle for event organisers, Boomtown’s Wade said: “Insurance is the first key in the door that will unlock everything else. Then we can commit to things and start getting a bit more confidence back in the industry.”

“If festivals don’t take place in 2021, the vast majority of the ecosystem could disappear”

Consequences of a cancelled 2021 festival season
Boomtown’s Wade said: “It’s unlikely that we’ll be able to weather the storm of no events happening in 2021. Most festival organisers only hold one event and that is the one opportunity in the year. Without that, we don’t have a company essentially.”

AIF’s Reed said the loss for the taxpayer will be ‘significant’ in the 2021 festival season is cancelled: “If you look at the overall contribution of festivals to the UK economy, you’re looking at £1.7 bn GVA and 85,000 jobs. The live music industry in general, I believe, generates about £1.6 bn in VAT receipts and a significant portion of that will be generated by festivals.”

Sacha Lord, co-founder, Parklife and The Warehouse Project reinforced that point, adding: “The UK has got one of the biggest festival markets, globally, and we’re proud that music is one of our biggest exports. If festivals don’t take place in 2021, I think the vast majority of the ecosystem could disappear.”

“If events like [Boomtown Fair] can’t run, there’s going to be this big knock-on effect”

The wider economic impact of a disappearing festival sector
Lord said: “Let’s not forget everything that happens on the outside of the perimeter. When Parklife takes place on that one weekend it brings £16 million into the local economy. Every single year we have the Parklife Foundation, which raises on average about 100–120,000 pounds for local community causes. So there’s a bigger picture here and we need to look at the whole ecology. The supply chain will be wiped out if we have another year like 2020.”

Boomtown’s Wade said: “If events like ours can’t run, there’s going to be this big knock-on effect because we then can’t invest in local services people and skills. Festivals are like mini-cities so the supply chains, infrastructure and the services that we use are vast and countless.”

“Testing and pilots are two of the pillars. The other pillar would be industry mitigations”

Testing and safety precautions
AIF’s Reed said: “It’s difficult at this stage to see testing as the only solution to facilitate festivals. I think testing and pilots are two of the pillars, alongside vaccine development and rollout and of course treatment. But the other pillar would be industry mitigations, which is why we have a festivals working group which is cross-industry and that is working with the DCMS and Public Health England, to look at specific guidance and planning assumptions. [Those aspects] will contribute to a proposition for how festivals can safely return and instil that confidence in customers.”

UK Music’s Njoku-Goodwin said: “We don’t want to come back before it’s safe. It’s why we’re engaging in testing to make sure that we can find ways to make sure that no infections are brought into events spaces. And it’s one of the reasons we’re asking for an indicative date from the government because having government be clear on a date when we believe it’s safe to be able to hold events without social distancing and at scale will help with the public confidence.”

Customer confidence
Steve Heap, general secretary, AOF, said: “The customer confidence, I think, is one of the biggest hurdles we have to overcome. Our ticket sales are virtually at zero. There are one or two festivals are managing okay to sell, but the customers are no longer prepared to release the funds for the tickets because they’re just not sure the event will go ahead until we get to such a point that we can say they will.”

To coincide with today’s hearing, UK Music today published a new report, titled Let The Music Play: Save Our Summer 2021 report, which outlines a strategy to restart the live music industry when it is safe.

 


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Green Guardians: Staffing and Personnel

The Green Guardians Guide, spearheaded by the Green Events and Innovations Conference and IQ Magazine, is a new yearly iniative highlighting some of the work being done around the world to reduce the carbon footprint of the live entertainment business.

The inaugural list features 60 entries across ten categories, selected by the Green Guardians committes, which includes representatives from some of the sector’s most respected bodies, such as A Greener Festival, Go Group, Green Music Initiative, Julie’s Bicycle and Vision:2025.

Following on from last week’s feature on artists and activists doing their bit to make the world a cleaner and better place, this edition of Green Guardians looks at those pioneering ethical and sustainable staffing and personnel practices.

 


Staffing and personnel

My Cause UK

My Cause has provided more than 6,000 proactive front-line volunteers to the UK’s biggest events such as Boomtown, Boardmasters, Bestival,  Download Festival, Noisily, NASS, Love Saves The Day, Lovebox and many more.

My Cause offers event organisers an ethical and sustainable alternative to existing staffing providers by channelling its fees to the charities its volunteers nominate. That provides My Cause with a switched on, engaged and reliable team to represent client events in the best possible way. So far, it has donated almost £150,000 to more than 1,000 charities chosen by its volunteers.

My Cause director Rob Wilkinson notes, “When you are looking to book crew, volunteers, or staff from any supplier don’t just look at your bottom line but ask about what they do to care for and support their team. Well briefed, motivated and well cared for staff on your front line will bring your green credentials to life better than any sign or page in a programme ever could.”

“Well briefed staff on your front line will bring your green credentials to life better than any sign or page in a programme ever could”

Roskilde Festival
Roskilde Festival is a volunteer-run, non-profit organisation whose aim is to make a difference and have a positive effect on its surroundings; to support initiatives benefitting children and young people; and to support humanitarian and cultural work.

Festival volunteers participate year round in the decision-making, planning and troubleshooting processes, and in the recruitment and management of other volunteers.

The volunteer community is motivated by teamwork and a sense of all being in it together, and due to actively participating in the development of the festival. This has an impact on volunteers signing up and participating for the first time.

Roskilde’s core management team supports the organisation by providing leadership training (also developed and run by volunteers) and by providing tools for supporting feedback processes, allowing volunteers’ voices to be heard regarding the many ideas they have on how to improve processes and co-operation.

Roskilde Festival is a volunteer-run, non-profit organisation whose aim is to make a difference and have a positive effect on its surroundings

Greenpeace
Greenpeace was actually founded with a concert in Canada, in 1970, when James Taylor, Joni Mitchell and the late Phil Ochs performed a benefit gig to pay for the fuel that allowed a Greenpeace ship to sail into a nuclear testing zone.

Glastonbury was the first major festival that Greenpeace attended, in 1992. Many concerts and festivals have followed and continue to play a major part in helping the organisation to raise awareness of its international work.

The majority of its event volunteers come from the network of local Greenpeace groups, but it also advertises on its social media platforms where potential volunteers complete a questionnaire and Greenpeace asks for another person to vouch for them.

In terms of sustainability, Greenpeace endeavours to lead by example, calling out areas where improvements can be made. Festivals give Greenpeace access to an audience that it can inform and entertain, allowing it to communicate vital messages such as: “Don’t count the cost; DO IT! As otherwise it’s costing the Earth.”

 


Continue reading this feature in the digital edition of IQ 90, or subscribe to the magazine here

Wireless cancels as more UK fests call time on 2020

Festival Republic’s Wireless Festival and an open-air the 1975 show are the latest losses to the UK’s 2020 summer calendar, in a week that also saw Oxfordshire’s Cornbury Music Festival and metal event Bloodstock move to 2021.

The UK’s summer festival season is looking increasingly uncertain, as organisers wait for the government to reveal details of its exit plan. The country has been in lockdown since 23 March.

“Wireless Festival will no longer be taking place this year,” reads a statement from organisers. “As you know we’ve been closely monitoring this unprecedented situation, and it’s become clear that cancelling is unavoidable.

“Subject to contract, Wireless Festival will be back next year on 2 to 4 July 2021 and will be worth the wait,” continue organisers, urging fans to “keep your eyes peeled” for news on the virtual edition of the festivals.

The urban music event, which had booked ASAP Rocky, D-Block Europe and Lil Uzi Thug for this year, has encountered licensing restrictions imposed by the local council around its home in Finsbury Park.

The promoter has also announced the cancellation of an eco-friendly show by the 1975 at Finsbury Park, scheduled for 11 July. The show, which was also to feature Charli XCX, Clairo and Pale Waves, was set to be the Manchester band’s biggest show ever.

“We’ve been closely monitoring this unprecedented situation, and it’s become clear that cancelling is unavoidable”

Festival Republic had previously called off the 2020 outings of Download Festival, set to feature Kiss, Iron Maiden and System of a Down, and Latitude, which had a line-up including Liam Gallagher, Haim and the Chemical Brothers.

This week also saw the cancellation of the 20,000-capacity Cornbury Music Festival, which was to feature Dido, Jack Savoretti and the Waterboys, as well as Judas Priest-headlined metal festival Bloodstock. Organisers say the event will be back for a bumper five-day edition in 2021.

Other major UK festivals to cancel due to the coronavirus outbreak include Boomtown (Wu-Tang Clan, Underworld, the Libertines), Bluedot (Bjork, Metronomy, Groove Armada), Black Deer (Wilco, the Waterboys, the Dead South) and Y Not Festival (Royal Blood, Richard Ashcroft, Bombay Bicycle Club), adding to cancellations of AEG Presents’ All Points East and British Summer Time Hyde Park, Live Nation’s Parklife, Lovebox and Isle of Wight Festival, and Glastonbury Festival.

In Scotland, which has limited self-government within the UK, DF Concerts’ Trnsmt (Courteeners, Liam Gallagher, Lewis Capaldi) and Regular Music’s Summer Nights at the Bandstand (Rick Astley, Van Morrison, Primal Scream) cancelled after first minster Nicola Sturgeon suggested public gatherings would be banned for the foreseeable future.

In the neighbouring country of the Republic of Ireland, festivals including Longitude and All Together Now cancelled last month, as the government announced a blanket ban on events over 5,000 people until 31 August, although it recently indicated that smaller events would be permitted from 10 August.

 


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Festivals make green pledge at ADE 2019

A group of 20 festivals from seven different countries have pledged their commitment to increasing sustainability efforts today (Friday 18 October) at ADE Green, the environment-focused sub-conference of Amsterdam Dance Event (ADE).

Representatives from Dutch festivals including Amsterdam Open Air, DGTL, Down the Rabbit Hole, Lowlands, North Sea Jazz and Into the Great Wide Open, as well as Denmark’s Roskilde, the UK’s Boardmasters, Boomtown and Shambala, Ireland’s Body & Soul, French festival We Love Green, the Berlin edition of Festival Republic’s Lollapalooza festival, and others, signed the Green Deal Festivals Circular onstage with Dutch environment minister Stientje van Veldhoven.

A meeting for the Green Deal was held earlier this year in London, as part of the Green Events and Innovations Conference (GEI). Tickets for GEI 2020 can be found here.

The pledge will see the participating festivals become completely circular, or sustainable, by 2025.

“This deal has a great value for all involved,” said Roskilde’s Freja Marie Frederiksen, speaking at the event. “We can all learn from each other and improve things much more quickly.”

“Collaboration is the key to the urgently needed change in how we deal with energy, water, food, mobility, plastic and other materials,” added Paul Schurink of Green Events International, organising partner of ADE Green and an initiator of the green deal along with the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management.

“Collaboration is the key to the urgently needed change in how we deal with energy, water, food, mobility, plastic and other materials”.

“With a combined number of over three million festival visitors we can make an enormous impact.”

Topics discussed throughout the day at ADE Green included responsible plastic use, DJ’s air miles and innovative ways to change the industry. A workshop run by sustainability expert Douwe Luijnenburg instructed delegates on how to manage events in a environmentally friendly way.

Elsewhere, green initiatives will again take centre stage later today at the launch of Exit festival’s Life Stream, a project aiming to increase audience awareness around environmental issues.

The team behind the Exit events will broadcast performances from DJs Artbat, Coeus, After Affair, Andrew Meller and DJ Jock live from the Faralda Crane Hotel in Amsterdam from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. Environmental imagery and statements will be incorporated into the live stream.

The Life Stream platform will be used throughout Exit Festival’s 20th anniversary event, which takes place from 9 to 12 July 2020 in Novi Sad, Serbia.

More than 9,000 delegates registered for this year’s ADE which kicked off on 16 October and wraps up on Sunday, 20 October.

The industry will once again unite to tackle issues surrounding sustainability at GEI12 in London on Tuesday 3 March in London, on the opening day of the International Live Music Conference (ILMC).

 


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Boomtown team launch 3,500-cap. venue

The organisers of the UK’s Boomtown festival are launching Area 404 Complex, a new 3,500-capacity events space in the city of Bristol.

The venue is opening on the weekend of 1 and 2 November, in time for Halloween celebrations, for “a nighttime festival experience beyond this world.

The venue features five rooms, with a main room showcasing music similar to that found on the festival’s main stage. Smaller rooms will host a mixture of reggae, techno, house, drum and bass and disco.

“We are so pleased to be able to finally announce this venue, it feels like a proper homecoming for us. We’re unbelievably excited to be able to showcase everything we’ve grown into since we started putting on gigs in Bristol over a decade ago,” comment Boomtown organisers.

“We are so pleased to be able to finally announce this venue, it feels like a proper homecoming for us”

“To be able to bring our unique mix of interactive and immersive theatre, beautifully hand crafted intricate set designs and a huge amount of music genres all under one roof, is going to be something incredibly special!”

Founded in 2009, Boomtown attracts 66,000 fans each year to its site in Winchester, England. The 11th edition of the festival took place from 7 to 11 August, despite high-speed winds and heavy rain causing the cancellation of other UK events. Headliners included Lauryn Hill, Prophets of Rage and the Streets.

Tickets for the Area 404 Complex Halloween events sold out in under 30 minutes. Tickets are available to attend the venue on Friday 8 November here, priced at £36.30.

 


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Boomtown weathers the storm for sold-out fest

The 11th edition of Boomtown took place this weekend amid high-speed winds, as “robust planning measures” ensured a successful event.

High winds and heavy rains battered the UK over the weekend. Despite the cancellation of Boardmasters and Houghton festivals, organisers of Boomtown decided to brave the storm, with 66,000 people attending the event from 7 to 11 August.

Strong winds caused the temporary closure of Boomtown’s Relic stage on Friday, after part of the stage fell into the crowd. All acts were rescheduled to perform on another stage, with Relic reopening on Saturday afternoon. No injuries were reported.

“It was inspiring to watch the entire Boomtown community come together, demonstrating nothing but support, patience and respect for each other”

Campsites were also affected by high winds. Festivalgoers were encouraged to contact festival staff if they wished to move campsites or obtain alternative shelter due to weather conditions.

Organisers admit that the weather was “challenging”, but say they are “humbled by how everyone pulled together” to ensure the show went on to the standard expected.

“It was inspiring to watch the entire Boomtown community come together, demonstrating nothing but support, patience and respect for each other,” reads a statement from organisers.

Artists including Prophets of Rage, Chronixx, Groove Armada and Lauryn Hill performed at Boomtown 2019.

 


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Severe weather wreaks havoc for UK festivals

Following record temperatures in July and one of the hottest Glastonbury’s ever, the weather is taking a turn for the worse in the UK with heavy rain, high winds and storms causing problems for event organisers.

Houghton festival (10,000-cap.), due to kick off today (8 August) in Norfolk, is the latest event to take a weather-provoked tumble, following the cancellation of Vision Nine’s Boardmasters festival yesterday and Rewind North earlier this month.

The UK’s met office have predicted torrential rain and 60 mile-per-hour winds, warning of flash flood risks.

“Overnight, weather conditions onsite at Houghton festival have dramatically worsened and are set to deteriorate further into the weekend,” read a statement issued by organisers this morning.

“Tragically, following this morning’s reports and further consultation with authorities, health and safety and all the festival directors, the decision has been made to cancel Houghton 2019.”

The Houghton organisers, consisting of the team behind north Wales’ Gottwood festival and DJ Craig Richards, say they are “utterly devastated” to cancel the festival.

“Public safety is the absolute priority and if it comes to it, evacuation or cancellation would be considered to ensure the safety of those in attendance”

Organisers of 66,000-capacity Boomtown, which opened its gates yesterday, say “severe weather plans” are in place to prepare for conditions on Friday.

“Our experienced team have been constantly monitoring the weather forecast,” a Boomtown representative tells IQ.

“Public safety is the absolute priority and if it comes to it, evacuation or cancellation would be considered to ensure the safety of those in attendance.”

The Boomtown team has advised festivalgoers against putting up gazebos or windbreaks in the campsites.

Lauryn Hill, Prophets of Rage, the Streets and Groove Armada are among acts to play at the festival near Winchester in the south of England.

Production experts at the ILMC Production Meeting have often discussed the measures that ought to be taken to ensure safety and the smooth-running of events in the case of extreme weather conditions.

 


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