Introducing a UK festival insurance scheme risks ‘pulling the rug’ from under events, Culture Minister Caroline Dinenage has said.
Following the announcement from Prime Minister Boris Johnson that coronavirus restrictions on hospitality and crowds could ease nationally from the 21st June, the House of Commons' Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee confirmed a discussion would take place this week focused on the future of festivals.
Speaking at the closing of the virtual hearing yesterday, Caroline Dinenage told the Select Committee that the government were reluctant to introduce an insurance scheme and offer the sector false hope.
“The fact is, chairman, as the minister responsible for this I would much rather be able to make an announcement when I am absolutely certain things can go ahead," Dinenage told MPs, "or at least in a much better sense of predictability that things can go ahead, than announce an indemnity scheme, give people the confidence in order to pull the rug out from underneath them again. I just wouldn’t be prepared to do that.”
The UK government's Select Committee began the inquiry into the future of festivals on the 5th January this year, alongside the organisers of festivals like Parklife and Boomtown, to discuss the likelihood of events going ahead in 2021. In January, Glastonbury’s organisers announced that the festival would not be taking place this year, and many fear that its cancellation is just the tip of the iceberg of mass postponements expected for the year as the pandemic continues.
In February, Rowan Cannon of festival organisers Wild Rumpus told the Select Committee that with social-distancing and appropriate safety measures, small festivals should be “as safe as Sainsbury’s”.
“The idea that the festivals can’t go ahead and be socially-distanced is inaccurate,” she continued. “We can absolutely adapt our programming, put infrastructure in place, [and] change the way that we do things, to enable something to happen with social distancing in place.”