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Glastonbury won’t go bankrupt after 2021 cancellation

Glastonbury organiser Emily Eavis says that the cancellation of this year’s event and a second fallow year won’t bankrupt the festival.

Last week, Emily and her father Michael, who founded Glastonbury, announced that the festival would not take place this year, “in spite of our efforts to move heaven and earth”.

In an interview with The Guardian, Emily dismissed concerns that Glastonbury could go bankrupt after a second fallow year and also denied reports that the cancellation was due to insurance issues.

Emily said that the 2021 cancellation was due to a number of factors, from restrictions on public transport to the availability of medical staff and “the simple fact that mass gatherings are currently still legally prohibited and it’s not at all clear when that will be reversed”.

“Next year is going to give us all such an enormous high… when we can all reunite on this scale it will feel even more uplifting”

In 2020 the festival lost £5 million after cancelling in March with much of the planning and work underway. Cancelling now meant this year’s losses would not compare, she said.

“We would have been in trouble if we’d hedged our bets and pushed on regardless to March and then had to cancel. We’d have spent a lot of money by then, money which we wouldn’t get back.”

Following her earlier appeal for a government-backed event cancellation fund – similar to schemes that have launched in Germany and Austria – Eavis said: “It’s not even about insurance. It’s about the government offering direct financial support where events have to cancel because of circumstances they have no control over. If other countries can do that, I would hope we would be able to.”

Looking to the future, Eavis says that the 2022 event will be an “enormous high” and in the meantime, is working on Glastonbury-related projects for this year, including livestreamed events, and possibly a version of the annual Pilton Party usually held in September.

Planning for the 2022 festival would traditionally commence in September but could be pushed back “if we’re extremely confident we’ll be able to go ahead”, Eavis told The Guardian. “I think next year is going to give us all such an enormous high, because when we can all reunite on this scale it will feel even more uplifting than ever. One thing this last year has taught us is that fundamentally we all need human connection.”

 


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Glastonbury Festival 2021 is cancelled

The 2021 edition of Glastonbury Festival is cancelled, according to a statement from organisers Michael and Emily Eavis.

“With great regret, we must announce that this year’s Glastonbury Festival will not take place, and that this will be another enforced fallow year for us,” reads the statement on the Worthy Farm event’s website.

“In spite of our efforts to move heaven and earth, it has become clear that we simply will not be able to make the festival happen this year. We are so sorry to let you all down.

“It has become clear that we simply will not be able to make the festival happen this year. We are so sorry to let you all down”

“As with last year, we would like to offer all those who secured a ticket in October 2019 the opportunity to roll their £50 deposit over to next year, and guarantee the chance to buy a ticket for Glastonbury 2022. We are very appreciative of the faith and trust placed in us by those of you with deposits, and we are very confident we can deliver something really special for us all in 2022!

“We thank you for your incredible continued support and let’s look forward to better times ahead.”

Phil Bowdery, chair, Concert Promoter’s Association and LIVE co-founder: “It is devastating that Glastonbury, one of the crown jewels of the UK’s live music and festival scene, has been forced to cancel for another year.

“We need time to prepare and we desperately need a government-backed insurance scheme to unlock our future”

“With some light at the end of the tunnel, with the vaccine roll-out underway, we need time to prepare and we desperately need a government-backed insurance scheme to unlock our future. Now more than ever we need this to be put in place or our globally successful festival industry could be damaged for years to come.”

DCMS Committee chair and MP, Julian Knight, says: “The news that the UK has lost the Glastonbury Festival for a second year running is devastating. We have repeatedly called for ministers to act to protect our world-renowned festivals like this one with a government-backed insurance scheme. Our plea fell on deaf ears and now the chickens have come home to roost.

“The jewel in the crown will be absent but surely the government cannot ignore the message any longer – it must act now to save this vibrant and vital festivals sector.”

“The government cannot ignore the message any longer – it must act now to save this vibrant and vital festivals sector”

Dave Webster, Musicians Union, says: “We are bitterly disappointed to hear that Glastonbury has announced its had to cancel this year’s festival. Another devastating blow to the music industry caused by this insidious virus. Ongoing uncertainty around insurance is leaving other festivals and events in a precarious position for 2021.”

In December last year, Emily Eavis joined many across the UK’s live industry in appealing for a government-backed event cancellation fund – similar to schemes that have launched in Germany and Austria – to enable operators to plan for this summer’s festival season without the financial risk posed by a potential Covid outbreak.

In an interview with The Sunday Times, Eavis said the festival had struggled to get cancellation insurance from commercial underwriters to help cover losses if the 2021 edition were to be postponed or cancelled.

Prior to that, her father Michael, with whom she organises the festival, warned back in June that they would “seriously go bankrupt” if they were not able to hold the festival again.

Last year’s 50th-anniversary event was meant to be headlined by Sir Paul McCartney, Taylor Swift and Kendrick Lamar, but it was cancelled during the initial national lockdown in March 2020.

At the beginning of January, key stakeholders in the UK’s festival industry gave evidence at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Select Committee’s inquiry into safeguarding the future of the sector.

Witnesses including Parklife’s Sacha Lord, AIF’s Paul Reed and UK Music chief Jamie Njoku-Goodwin relayed the key demands of the sector, which include an indicative date for a full return to live; a government-backed coronavirus cancellation schemea three-year extension of the VAT reduction and an extension for business rates relief.

Following the inquiry, the DCMS Committee wrote to the chancellor of the exchequer to ask for a government-backed insurance scheme for concerts and festivals, or risk “a summer without festivals”.

Glastonbury is the second major European festival to cancel its 2021 edition after Switzerland’s Baloise Session this morning called off this year’s in-person event scheduled for the autumn. Beatrice Stirnimann, CEO of the Baloise Session, said “it’s impossible to plan with any certainty”.

This story is being regularly updated.

 


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