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UK Music Festivals Face 'Existential Crisis'

UK Music Festivals Face 'Existential Crisis'

Tuesday, 5 January, 2021 - 08:00
FILE PHOTO: Festival goers watch British singer Tom Odell perform on the Pyramid Stage during Glastonbury Festival in Somerset, Britain June 28, 2019. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls/File Photo

Coronavirus has plunged Britain's summer music festivals into "existential crisis", the umbrella organization for the UK music industry warned on Tuesday and called for greater government support.

In a report, UK Music said Covid-19 had caused an "existential crisis for the live sector and UK music festivals" and that the 2020 season had been "wiped out" by the virus.

"There is a real threat that the vast majority of the 2021 season will not happen either," the organization said.

Every year, thousands of Britons and tourists flock to the country's summer music festivals, which UK Music argued were "pillars of our culturally rich live music scene and showcase an incredible variety of musical genres".

The country's famous Glastonbury music festival, for instance, generates over £100 million ($136 million 111 million euros) for the economy of the south-west of England, UK Music said.

Music festivals as a whole employ 85,000 people directly each year, it said.

Britain -- one of the countries worst affected by the global health crisis, with over 75,000 deaths -- has seen its £5.8-billion music industry hit hard by the pandemic.

A series of nationwide lockdowns, the most recent of which was announced on Monday evening, and months of other restrictions to curb the spread of the virus have shuttered music venues.

In July, the music sector was given a lifeline of £250 million from the government's £1.6-billion Cultural Recovery Fund to help keep the arts afloat during the outbreak.

UK Music is now calling on authorities to give an approximate date for when venues might be able to reopen and for the creation of a government-backed reinsurance scheme for the sector.

UK Music's chief executive, Jamie Njoku-Goodwin, said it was "in the national interest for the sector to be supported and helped back to normal".

"If the right support and reassurance is not put in place for event organizers, artists and venues now, then there is a serious risk that much of the summer live music season will be cancelled," he said.

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