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Festival Safe releases Covid-19 festival guide

UK festival safety initiative Festival Safe has released a new guide that aims to make fans aware of how Covid-19 will affect the festival experience, as well as steps to take to keep each other safe.

The Festival Safe site, launched by festival organisers in 2018, offers festivalgoers a one-stop shop for information on every aspect of going to festivals, from what to expect before you go to camping, crime, drugs, alcohol and sexual and mental health.

The new Covid-19 section on Festivalsafe.com provides information on expectations around social distancing, mask wearing and vaccinations, what to do if you develop Covid-19 symptoms at a festival, setting up and using the NHS (National Health Service) Covid Pass for events and more.

Festival Safe founder Jon Drape (Engine No 4) says: “With festivals getting going again, event organisers want to make sure that we are supporting our customers to understand what will be expected of them in the post-Covid-19 season, as well as letting them know what we are doing to help keep them safe.

“Event organisers want to make sure that we are supporting our customers to understand what will be expected of them”

“There is so much new information for people to take in, we have collated this in one place and in simple terms so everyone knows what to expect.

“We are also very aware that there will be thousands of young partygoers attending events for the first time this summer, and we hope the wider site will be really useful for them in understanding what to expect and getting prepared before they go.

“After a year of no partying, we also want to remind people that tolerance levels to alcohol and other drugs may be greatly reduced. There is lots of practical information on the site about how to reduce harm and stay safe.”

In addition to fans, Festival Safe is available to all organisations invested in promoting wellbeing and safety at their events, says the organisation. Event organisers can request access to Festival Safe’s assets through the partners area on the website.


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Cover Story: the cost of event cancellations

From Kanye West to Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, Cardi B and a host of festivals, the tail end of the 2010s has seen no shortage of big-name cancellations and postponements – with illness, civil disorder and, especially, severe weather all doing their part to torpedo major live music events in recent years.

All touring productions are team efforts, and when it becomes clear a show won’t go ahead, the first person to receive a call is a stakeholder that’s otherwise largely forgotten about, jokes insurance broker Steven Howell: “When something goes wrong, we suddenly become the most influential and important people in the chain – but before that we’re just another P&L.”

It is, of course, yet another spiralling cost on a tour’s balance sheet. But with artist fees and production values trending ever upwards, and inclement weather conditions apparently becoming more common, insuring against a tour or show’s cancellation can be worth every penny.

Howell, of Media Insurance Brokers (MIB), which has offices in London, Glasgow, Dublin and Los Angeles, says that while he doesn’t necessarily see an increase in the number of cancellations, the size of claims is rising (in tandem with rising performance fees and production costs).

“Every year we have lots of claims – there’ve always been cancelled shows – but the claims we’ve had [in 2019] are bigger than before,” he explains. “You’re also getting bigger production going into festivals as they try and differentiate themselves from each other, but it’s mainly because artist fees are higher.

“When something goes wrong, we suddenly become the most influential and important people in the chain”

“The value of claims is getting bigger year on year. And that’s not just by 5%, 10%, even 20% – recently we’ve seen some artists who were earning hundreds or low thousands [of dollars] per show, and they’re now earning hundreds of thousands. Then at the top end, you’ve obviously got the people who earn two or three million a show.”

The result is, of course, higher premiums, with experts telling IQ that premiums have increased, on average, 20-30% in the past year alone. And there are indications cancellation insurance could cost even more in the next 12 months.

“This year has seen an increase in cancellations compared to previous years on both sides of the Atlantic,” says Tim Thornhill of international insurance brokerage Integro (which is set to rebrand as Tysers in 2020 after a recent acquisition). “The US has been hit by strong winds, storms and fires, and when these happen during a tour – particularly a big one – or any mass-participation events, it will have a big bearing on the level of claims that insurers are liable to pay out.”

“There have been an awful lot of large claims, which has had a big impact on the insurance market,” agrees Miller’s Martin Goebbels, speaking to IQ from London (the company also has offices in Paris, Brussels, Singapore, and Ipswich, UK). “Whether the number of claims as a percentage has increased I don’t know, but certainly on the weather side they are growing.”

The impact of this cluster of large pay-outs, says Goebbels, is that premiums have increased recently, and several large insurers have pulled out of offering cancellation insurance altogether.

“This year has seen an increase in cancellations compared to previous years on both sides of the Atlantic”

Hard Time
This, explains Integro’s Tim Rudland, is “what’s called a ‘hardening market,’ where insurers have increased their premiums due to a number of losses in the contingency market.” (Examples of ‘contingency’ insurance products include policies covering event cancellation, non-appearance, terrorism and prize indemnity.)

“Some insurers have reduced the amount they are able to write, and some have stopped writing this type of business altogether,” Rudland continues, “which means that the size of the market is shrinking.”

According to Howden’s Robert Barron, formerly vice-president of accident, health, sports and contingency at US insurance brokerage giant Lockton, in 2018 loss ratios incurred by non-appearances reached the highest level since records began in 1999.

“As a result of such losses, there has been a scaling back in lines, and three market exits since last summer [2017],” he wrote last year. “Barbican and Travelers both exited the standalone contingency business for 2017, while ProSight Specialty Insurance, which wrote contingency as part of its media and entertainment book, placed its Lloyd’s operation into orderly run-off last June.”

“In the past 12 months, there have been five or six decent-sized insurers that have pulled out of event-cancellation insurance altogether,” adds Goebbels, who notes that there have been a number of high-profile, non-music cancellation claims in that period, too, including severe weather-hit rugby and cricket fixtures. “All those claims go into the same book of business,” he explains, “so insurers have a much wider view of the risks.”

“There’s a larger pool of artists who could cause an issue for insurers”

The same is true in continental Europe, says Matthias Grischke, the founder of Novitas based in Ahrensburg near Hamburg. “Some major companies, like Swiss Re, have left the market, and a number of mergers have also reduced the total number of insurers,” Grischke explains, although he notes, “we aren’t really feeling a lack of capacity yet.”

This, in turn, he says, drives up prices. “The insurers have united a lot more,” Goebbels says. “They have their associations and they get together and they say we can’t sustain this – we either cut each other’s throats or we close ranks to make sure we maintain a market standard.”

Other factors can also push up premiums – although, contrary to popular opinion, Goebbels says he isn’t seeing a disproportionate amount of cancellations by artists of a particular genre (urban acts are often described anecdotally as being especially cancel-happy), suggesting insurers are rather “keeping a watching brief in a lot of areas. Something like when Krept was stabbed, for example [the rapper, one half of Krept and Konan, was attacked backstage at BBC Radio 1Xtra Live in Birmingham in October], they’ll be keeping an eye on – but it hasn’t yet had any impact.”

If anything, he adds, of more interest to insurers is the increasing average age of performers: “There’s a larger pool of artists who could cause an issue for insurers,” Goebbels explains. “Paul McCartney is 78, Patti Smith is 74… the implications [of artists getting older] is much, much higher premiums.”


Continue reading this feature in the digital edition of IQ 87 2019, or subscribe to the magazine here

Ground Control’s Jon Drape launches Engine No. 4

Event production veteran Jon Drape has launched Engine No.4, a new production company headquartered in Manchester, UK, as he retires the Ground Control brand.

The new company counts Parklife, Snowbombing Austria, Bluedot, Kendal Calling, Lost Village, Depot at Mayfield and the Warehouse Project among its clients.

Drape, former MD of Ground Control Productions, director at Broadwick Live and founder of Festival Safe, forms part of a core team of equal partners with Tommy Sheals-Barrett (Back On Your Heads Ltd), Jim Gee (N4 Productions) and Will McHugh (CC Events).

The decision to create Engine No.4 follows the withdrawal of Broadwick Live and Ground Control parent company, Global, from the festival space earlier this year.

“It was the ideal time for a rethink – it’s not just a rebadged version of Ground Control,” comments Drape. “We came to realise that a more streamlined business was the only sustainable option.

“With a desire to focus on quality events and festivals, I thought the best move forwards would be to form a new partnership of four equal shareholders and directors together, covering all elements of the industry and able to deliver more bespoke and considered solutions.”

“It was the ideal time for a rethink – it’s not just a rebadged version of Ground Control”

With over 30 years’ experience in the live industry, Drape managed production at legendary Manchester venue the Hacienda, later founding Ground Control in 2013. Drape is a patron for music charity Attitude is Everything and drug safety testing group the Loop.

Sheals-Barrett takes on the role of head of technical production, with 25 years’ experience managing production for Festival No. 6, Bluedot and Parklife.

Kendal Calling and Parklife operations director McHugh will handle the sponsorship side of the business, building on existing relationships with clients such as EE, Lynx, Nintendo and Carling.

Gee, whose recent projects include reopening Manchester’s 10,000-capacity Depot at Mayfield, will serve as the director and head of site management.

“We’re immensely proud of what we have achieved so far at the Depot,” says Gee. “Our remit was to transition the Warehouse Project from Store Street without losing the spirit and the vibe in a much larger venue. Somewhat of a challenge but something we have delivered.”

Operating from September 2019, Engine No.4 has new projects lined up to add to its existing client base.

International event production professionals will be gathering at the ILMC Production Meeting (IPM) on Tuesday 3 March at the Royal Garden Hotel in London.


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Cardi B cancels headline Parklife appearance

Cardi B will no longer appear at the UK’s Parklife festival this weekend, as the rapper continues to recover from cosmetic surgery procedures.

The ‘Bodak Yellow’ star, who recently underwent breast augmentation and liposuction, was scheduled to headline the 80,000-cap. Manchester event’s main stage on Saturday 8 June. In addition to the Parklife cancellation, the surgery caused the rapper to cancel her slot at Primavera Sound and postpone three concerts in the United States last month.

“We are very sorry for the late notice but have only just had confirmation that she will not be able to perform,” say Parklife organisers, who have not announced a replacement for Cardi B. “We all remain super-excited for Parklife this weekend and cannot wait to see you in a completely transformed Heaton Park.”

“It is certainly an original reason for cancellation,” Alesco director Paul Twomey tells IQ, adding that multi-act festivals are unlikely to be insured against the no-show of an individual act. “The festival will merely adjust the line-up in terms of set times and lengths or look to replace if time allows.”

However, Twomey adds, Cardi B’s reason for cancelling would be unlikely to be included in “a standard non-appearance policy” if in place, given that such policies “exclude cancellation as a result of elective surgery, as this would be deemed to be within the artist’s control.

Festivals may actually be better off “as the act would have to return their fee”

“There is a wider cover available that promoters and the like can take out which would pick this up as long as it was outside of the purchasing party’s control. Insurers would charge a higher premium for this,” says the insurance specialist.

“Cardi B has been advised to cancel on medical grounds following an allegedly non-essential operation. Much depends on when the operation happened and the surroundings of the ‘complications’ that have led to cancelling,” explains Martin Goebbels, head of Miller’s music and touring insurance team.

“If the operation were a while ago and total unexpected complications have occurred then possibly there would be grounds for an insurance claim. However, if it were very recent – particularly after any insurance policies were placed – it is likely any insurance would not pay if such an operation were deemed non-essential.”

In general, says Goebbels, a festival “may not suffer any loss” from an artist cancellation. In fact, events may be better off “as the act would have to return their fee”. Organisers then decide whether to keep the money or spend it on a replacement.

“Even if there were no replacement available,” continues Goebbels, “it is possible that festivals do not have to refund any money as they sell tickets for a ‘festival’ rather than a ‘headline artist’.”

The cancellation of individual shows, however, poses more difficulties.

“You know, I hate cancelling shows because I love money”

“If it were an artist’s own show, the promoter would not be insured so it becomes a legal situation to try and recover the promoter’s total loss,” explains Goebbels.

Addressing the May postponements, Cardi B posted on Instagram saying: “You know, I hate cancelling shows because I love money. But like, health is wealth, so I have to do what I have to do. My breasts gotta heal, and it is what it is.”

Parklife will make its fully updated schedule available via the festival app from 7pm on Friday 7 June.

Performers at this year’s sold-out festival include George Ezra, the Streets, Nas, Dave, Christine and the Queens, Solange and Major Lazer Soundsystem. Parklife takes place in Heaton Park, Manchester, on Saturday 8 and Sunday 9 June.

Festival director Jon Drape and co-founder Sacha Lord touted last year’s Parklife as the “best one yet”. Live nation acquired a majority stake in the festival, along with the Warehouse Project club nights that Lord co-founded with Parklife partner Sam Kandel, in 2016.


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Drape, Measham, Lord named NTIA Ambassadors of the Night

Ground Control Productions/Broadwick Live’s Jon Drape, the Warehouse Project’s Sacha Lord, Fiona Measham of drug-testing service the Loop and veteran promoter Harvey Goldsmith are among the UK industry figures recognised as the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA)’s first ‘Ambassadors of the Night’.

At its Ambassadors of the Night event at Red Bull Studios London last night (5 December), the association honoured key figures for their contributions towards developing and protecting Britain’s £70bn night-time economy.

Also recognised were the We Love Hackney campaign, which led the fight against the borough’s controversial new curfews, Jamal Edwards, founder of urban music platform SBTV, and, posthumously, late Kiss FM DJ Paul ‘Trouble’ Anderson.

“These awards … represent the enormous steps forward we have made”

“These awards across a cross-section of stakeholders, recognising police forces, council leaders, business improvement districts, mayors and citizens, as well as music and nightlife industry, represent the enormous steps forward we have made in Britain,” comments Alan Miller, chairman of the Night Time Industries Association.

“Nightlife lights up our streets, brings revenue and jobs, promotes culture and is a part of who we are. Let’s all be Ambassadors of the Night.”

The full list of winners are:


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Fellowes, Drape, Measham on the case for drug testing

The Loop director Fiona Measham, Broadwick Live’s Jon Drape and Secret Garden Party promoter Freddie Fellowes joined AFEM CEO Mark Lawrence at IMS Ibiza last month to discuss drug testing at festivals and clubs.

The Case for Drug Testing at Events, presented by The Loop’, on day two of IMS, saw the two festival bosses – both of whom have led the way in implementing the Loop’s multi-agency safety testing (MAST) at their events – talk with Measham and Lawrence about their experience of front-of-house pill testing, and its effectiveness in reducing the harm associated with drug use, with Fellowes describing the growth of MAST as “the first meaningful change in harm-reduction policy that I’ve seen in our industry” in 20 years.

Calling for change, Measham, also professor of criminology at Durham University, said in order to avoid future drug fatalities at festivals, “we need to is actually encourage a more healthy relationship with drugs”.

Watch the panel in full, exclusively on IQ, above.


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Law firm launches team to advise music stars

Shoosmiths, one of the leading law firms in the UK, has launched a new team to specifically focus on the needs of high-net-worth clients from the industries of media, music and sports. The firm hope to attract new clients in the form of agents, athletes and entrepreneurs.

As part of this new Elite Advisory Team, the firm has announced Haydn Roberts, former Manchester City head of player liaison, will take the lead.

At a launch event for the new team, where speakers included UK festival veteran Jon Drape (Ground Control/Broadwick Live), Roberts commented on his new role: “It is no secret that the quality of legal advice given can make or break careers in the world of sports and entertainment.

“At Shoosmiths we have specialist, full-service expertise which is not only rare but integral for these industries who require a full spectrum of legal advice.”

“The pressures on high-profile performers, whether in sport or music, are greater now than ever”

Present at the launch event was also former England international David Platt, who highlighted why the law firm was perhaps undertaking this new venture. Speaking to an audience of experienced people from the fields of music, media and sports, he explained that stars in the entertainment industries needed ready access to expert advice more so than in the past: “The pressures on high profile performers, whether in sport or music, are greater now than ever and they need 24/7 access to trusted, expert counsel.

“Haydn’s team and the team at Shoosmiths will be able to provide exactly this kind of service.”

The move is a collaborative effort between Shoosmiths’ private client and commercial practice groups. The specialist team will seek to maintain current trusted relationships between the law firm and high profile clients, as well as forge new relationships with prospective ones.


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Global launches new festival safety initiative, Festival Safe

Festival Safe, a new safety guide formulated by festival organisers, other industry professionals and emergency services, has launched in the UK ahead of this summer’s festival season.

The brainchild of Jon Drape – festival director of several high-profile UK events, including Parklife and Festival №6, and group production director of promoter Broadwick Live – Festival Safe (festivalsafe.com) aims to provide both first-time and regular attendees with the knowledge needed to reduce the harms associated with the festival experience.

The Festival Safe website went live today, and features information on every aspect of festivalgoing, including what to know before going, camping, crime, drugs and alcohol, sexual health, mental health and more. “Whether it’s as trivial as reminding festivalgoers to pack their wellies, to explaining key steps in managing a criminal incident, Festival Safe aims to fill the gap between festivalgoers and their lack of festival knowledge and to reduce harm,” reads a statement.

The initiative is backed by Global, the parent company of Broadwick Live and the the UK’s second-largest festival operator. Global-owned festivals include Field Day, Y Not, Hideout, Truck, South West Four, Victorious Festival, Snowbombing (Austria and Canada) and Festival №6.

“I realised no one had laid out a manifesto for how to have a great experience and not a festival fail”

“I’ve worked and attended hundreds of different festivals and events over the years, and I’ve literally heard it all from hypothermia in July to people not realising they have to bring their own tents,” comments Drape.

“Eventually you see patterns emerge and festivalgoers making the same mistakes and getting in the same jams year in, year out. It was at this point that I realised no one had laid out a manifesto for how to have a great experience and not a festival fail. That’s ultimately what Festival Safe is: a one-stop shop for how to have the best possible time.

“It’s not a rulebook to batter people around the head with – it’s a considered and knowing guide drawn from decades of collective experience, good and bad, to ensure everyone has an amazing time, from first-timers to seasoned veterans.”


In addition to Broadwick/Global events, Festival Safe has partnered with Live Nation’s Download, Community, Reading and Leeds, Wireless and Latitude and more, and is being made available to “all organisations invested in promoting wellbeing and safety at their events”.


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UK festival organisers’ cycle ride raises £12k for AiE

AIF’s fourth Festival Congress, which took place earlier this week, saw staff from festival promoter Broadwick Live, event producer Ground Control and security firm FGH Security present a cheque for £11,700 to Suzanne Bull MBE, CEO of Attitude is Everything, following the completion of a 140-mile, two-day charity bike ride.

The Coast to Coast challenge was undertaken in September by a 16-person team from the four companies, who cycled from Whitehaven in Cumbria to Tynemouth in Tyne and Wear to raise money for the charity, which campaigns to improve deaf and disabled people’s access to live music.

Ground Control Productions’ Jon Drape, an Attitude is Everything patron, says: “By partnering with events organisers and venue owners, Attitude is Everything have enabled thousands of deaf and disabled people to enjoy access to live music. Their work is genuinely life changing.

“As a patron of the charity, I was absolutely delighted to accept the Coast to Coast challenge and hope others in the live music business will be inspired to work with Suzanne and her team.”

A full account of the ride is available below via Storify:


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Attitude is Everything names new patron

Ground Control managing director Jon Drape has been named a patron of Attitude is Everything.

Drape (pictured), former production manager at The Haçienda and a 25-year veteran of the live music industry, joins fellow patrons Mat Fraser, Robert Wyatt, Susan Hedges, Alan McGee, Blaine Harrison, Amadou and Mariam, Isabel Monteiro, Paul Maynard MP, Lord Clement-Jones CBE and Mike Weatherley in lending his support to the British charity, which advocates for better access to live music for deaf and disabled people.

“It’s an honour to join Attitude is Everything’s exemplary roll call of patrons,” comments Drape. “I’ve worked closely with Suzanne and her team for a number of years and over that time have been proud to witness a real sea change in attitudes across the Ground Control-managed festival sites. I have the utmost belief in Attitude is Everything’s aims and am looking forward to taking an active role in helping them to continue in their great work for deaf and disabled music lovers.”

Draper’s recent projects include festivals Parklife, Live from Jodrell Bank and Festival №6, all of which qualify for Attitude is Everything’s Charter of Best Practice.

Suzanne Bull MBE, Attitude is Everything’s CEO, says: “I’m really excited that Jon has agreed to become one of our patrons. Since Autumn 2012, Jon has led by example and really championed to all of the Ground Control team, their suppliers, promoters and partners just how important it is to value deaf and disabled customers and to put inclusion and accessibility at the heart of their business.

“I believe that Jon will be a great advocate for Attitude is Everything, and for improving access to live music.”

In February, Attitude is Everything released its third State of Access report, which revealed that fourth-fifths of UK festivals and venues were missing out on the ‘purple pound’ by failing to provide good access information for disabled people.