Scottish festivals seek £9m insurance safety net to help them return this year
Scottish festivals are hoping to secure millions of pounds of backing to ensure they are not left facing financial ruin if events have to be called off at the eleventh hour this year.
Organisers of events planned to take place in the second half of 2021 want the Scottish Government to find up to £9m to underwrite possible cancellation costs if restrictions are not eased in time or new lockdown measures have to be introduced.
They have warned that long-running events are under threat of disappearing completely unless a financial safety net is provided in Scotland.
They want to press ahead with the planning of events despite the Scottish Government refusing to set out when and how live entertainment will be allowed to resume when lockdown restrictions are eased.
Event organisers in England have seen a surge in ticket sales over the last fortnight after Prime Minister Boris Johnson signalled that social distancing restrictions could be lifted before the end of June.
However the UK Government has rejected plans to bring in an insurance scheme to help protect event organisers from cancellation.
A new industry group, the Scotland Event Producers Independent Committee, is lobbying for Scotland to create its own financial package to allow organisers to press ahead with their plans.
A spokesman said: “Events at scale take months to plan and require significant pre-event investment.
"Should events be forcibly cancelled all costs would currently be borne by the organiser and their event supply chain, and the debt would render businesses unrecoverable.
"Coverage against cancellations is not available in the commercial insurance market. A Scottish cancellation fund would immediately address concerns and provide organisers of Scottish events with the confidence to keep planning for outdoor events in summer 2021 in Scotland, and provide job security for thousands across the country.”
Derek Martin, director of Terminal V, a dance music festival due to be held at the Royal Highland Showground in Ingliston in October, said: “A government backed insurance policy is essential to allow us to fully plan ahead and start engaging with the event supply industry.
"Without it, we will never be able to fully commit with the risk hanging over us.”
Frodo McDaniel, general manager of the Kelburn Garden Party in Ayrshire, said: “Smaller festivals exist on a financial knife-edge and although we welcome the assistance we’ve received so far, we need to be able to support the vast number of freelancers, suppliers, artists, and tradespeople who make our festival possible. The only way to do this is to go ahead with planning as though the festival is definitely happening.”
John Richardson, director of the Party at the Palace event in Linlithgow, said: “A government-backed insurance policy would be absolutely key to allowing us to continue planning the return of our festival this year.”
The Scottish Government’s own Event Industry Advisory Group is writing to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to seek “clarity” on the criteria for events returning when she provides an update on easing lockdown restrictions next week.
A statement from the taskforce said: “During the latest meeting of the group members outlined the challenges the sector faces and the significant disadvantages Scotland’s event businesses are facing following the publication of indicative dates for the resumption of events in England by the UK Government.”