Goodbye Glasto! Without Support Other Festivals May Be Lost Forever – Conservative Article
Glastonbury is one of the worlds most renowned festivals. Is its cancellation announcement abrupt, or something we should all expect to see more of in the coming weeks?
I am hoping that some sort of summer can happen. It is important for both for those who have worked tirelessly on the frontline, as well as those who have been isolating and shielding for nearly a year now. I am not saying that summer should be a jet-to wherever free-for-all. However, something to show that vaccines have worked, cases are minimal, and everyone is acting with consideration to others is needed.
If all summer festivals, music, arts and other, are cancelled in 2021, there is once again an opportunity for virtual visionaries. #GlastoAtHome in 2020 saw a major boost in donations for the event’s charity partners because of the refund packages offered to those lucky enough to have tickets. I hope this is something that is thought of by other organisers.
Some argue that there is a more pressing demand for charitable giving and focus around live music and other arts. POI’s own Emma Hall wrote on how the arts were being left behind in 2020. I am not surprised there is a worry that the industry will be hit hard once again. Without thought by the relevant parties for how to mitigate the loss of funding from summer festivals, there will invariably be irrecoverable losses.
Did you know in 2019 that the arts and culture sector contributed £3bn more to the UK economy than our beloved Premier League? If that doesn’t evidence why we should support the live music industry, it may be hard to find an argument that does.
So, what can be done ahead of the summer to reduce the impact felt by arts and culture centres? The Culture Recovery Fund (CRF) is set to provide some financial support to help the worst-hit businesses. Up to £3m is on offer for cultural organisations (whether they are for-profit or not-for-profit). This fund is mainly focused on assisting with 2020 losses, and applicants submit financial statements with their application. While it is important to assist with the cancellations and closures that businesses experienced in 2020, we must also look beyond to Summer 2021. The CRF is not set to be extended past 31st March. I assume this to be the latest time the Government expect to be bringing the country out of this third national lockdown.
I see this as a complete oversight. The summer is prime time for interactions with the arts and cultural sector. Glastonbury has already removed itself from the summer festival calendar. I think similar-sized events (the likes of Reading & Leeds festival) will have to follow suit because of their cost margins and distancing measures. There has to be more thought for events around this time of year. Yes, revenue losses from 2020 are important – festivals were largely absent from the British summertime – but if we do not look forward as well, NFPOs will likely fail and be lost forever.
I will leave you with this. The English Football League (EFL), which represents the 72 teams just below the top flight of English football, has received a £50m financial support package to reduce ‘Covid-19 distress’. The film and television industry, which is still running at reduced capacity in the UK, received government-backed insurance for losses during the pandemic of £500m. The live music must be given the same support consideration. Glastonbury Festival is a big fish with cash reserves to ride the summer storm. There are many other event organisations who are not in such a fortunate position.
Written by Senior Conservative Writer, Josh Tyrrell
Point of Information
Smaller Festivals will Pay the Price for Complacency – A Labour Response
There’s a lot to be said for the importance of the arts. Because of this, I think this article makes an important point. I think it’s absolutely right that something must be done to make sure that we don’t lose certain events forever. It would be a great shame to see fond memories disappear and become forgotten.
Hence, I share Josh’s hope that the CRF is extended beyond the 31st of March. We already know that much of the arts are unlikely to return before this date. It is unfair and constrictive to plough on with this deadline. It is reminiscent of the “rethink, reskill, reboot” campaign that was rolled out the last time the arts came under serious threat during the Covid-19 pandemic.
This is quite the kick in the teeth for an industry which brought in £111.7 billion to the UK economy in 2018. To put this into context, that’s £306 million per day. It is especially frustrating given that the UK recently withdrew from the EU arts fund, a move which was unnecessary given that it is also open to non-EU members. This funding could have been used to provide help within the arts where the government were not willing or able to.
This is also where we must consider who will be most affected by a lack of funding. Similarly, the struggles that EFL clubs are facing compared to premier league clubs. It is the less well-known festivals and events that will suffer the most. Glastonbury, Reading, and Leeds are all likely to continue despite another successive cancellation. Smaller festivals, events, and venues that operate at a smaller scale will likely collapse, leaving bigger organisations a larger market-share after the pandemic is over.
At this point, we’d be losing so much of the soul of the UK’s arts and culture scene. With nearly 70% of theatres and over 290,000 jobs reliant on freelance work under threat, now is the time to provide some long-term security for the arts and culture industry.
Written by Senior Labour Writer, Jack Rolfe
Support is Great, but Ending Lockdown would be Best – A Conservative Response
“The Whole World Is A Stage”. It is not just the arts sector that has been hit. It is, however, a fantastic example of what could be lost by overzealous lockdown policies. I agree with the article that the arts and culture sector has not been given enough support. This is yet another example of industries, that are important not just economically but socially and culturally, being destroyed by the lockdown.
Pubs are another great example that have long been seen as the cornerstone of communities. Many can be easily classified as historically and culturally relevant. Many, like the galleries and theatres struggling to pay rent, may close if the government doesn’t change its approach.
However, the problem is not entirely the support being received. There simply isn’t enough money to fund every industry and pay every worker at 100%, or even 80%, wages for the foreseeable future. The government cannot ensure every business and every industry will survive. The best way to help the arts industry, the hospitality industry and retail would be to end the lockdown. We need to approach this pandemic from a different angle. Further lockdown will inevitably lead to unemployment and business closures.
Lord Sumption has suggested that restricting the lives of the young to protect the vulnerable and elderly is becoming invalid. This is because the elderly can reasonably protect themselves, especially as the vaccine is being rolled out. If for argument’s sake we were to allow the young to socialise and mix (as many are anyway in defiance of rules) they would be unlikely to be symptomatic, let alone die. If people are living away from home they are no risk to their elderly relatives nor each-other once the data has been referred to.
Allowing the young to engage with these sectors and industries again is how the economy can be restarted while deaths minimised. It should also be noted that the closing of churches, the cancelling of many events and cultural attractions not only causes economic fallout. Lockdown has killed so many through suicide as they lose these mentally beneficial opportunities.
There is no reason why festivals cannot be held after an effective vaccine roll-out and targeted shielding of the vulnerable. I would argue we could (and it would be safer) do so sooner. People have missed out on life for far too long. We must all ask whether this is actually protecting us or if a better approach can be found.
Written by Guest Conservative Writer, Oliver Pike
We Risk Losing Britain’s Soul – A Liberal Response
I entirely agree with Josh. Festivals are facing a decisive summer, where government backing could make or break them for the decade to follow. The deadline of March 31st is far too short-sighted: March will not be the end of all our problems. Even if this is our final lockdown, the financial repercussions will undoubtedly remain with us for the rest of 2021. Government aid is much needed.
Josh has importantly stressed the invaluable contributions that festivals – and the broader Arts and Culture sector – make to our economy. This deserves breaking down. Whilst 137,250 people worked directly in the Arts and Culture sector prior to the pandemic, this only accounts for ⅓ of all related employment. Induced and indirect employment account for 225,000 other jobs. It is clear that festivals are not just self-contained events – they have spurred on local economies and kept areas afloat for decades.
By not funding festivals, we risk these communities losing their livelihoods. Risking culture means risking lives.
Crucially, sacrificing our culture devalues Britain’s soul. Sure, virtual festivals are an appropriate substitute for the time being, whether it be Glastonbury itself or small literary festivals, such as the Charles Causley Trusts. However, once this pandemic is over, the irreplaceable physical and emotional sensations that come only from seeing our culture in person must still be intact. A nation without arts and culture, and the institutions to continually promote them, is a nation without a soul. For now, these institutions must be continually funded if we wish to resuscitate our heritage.
The government must prioritise support for the arts. The CRF must review its deadline. If festivals go, our jobs go. If jobs go, our economy goes. If this all goes, Britain’s soul follows suit.
Written by Chief Liberal Writer, Frank Allen