So long the spine of the music scene the outdoor festivals are again under threat from the pandemic. The logistics of putting on a big event in the virus times make them difficult. So far there have been no cancellations and the state of play is still under flux. This week Emily Eavis said that Glastonbury has not been cancelled yet quashing rumours started bizarrely by a Spice Girl.
Can certain festivals still be made to happen? Will enough vaccines have got out there by the summer to create enough breathing space? Will there be enough testing to make sure crowds are safe? Will testing be part of the ticket price? What are the logistics of testing? Will testing be part of the ticket price? Does being in the outdoors help enough? Will the virus have ebbed in the summer months and be dented by the vaccines enough? Will international travel actually be happening by then? Will designer masks become this summer’s item like designer wellies were?
And then there is the insurance in the UK. The lack of coronavirus insurance was the “biggest barrier” to events resuming in the UK. Germany has recently announced a £2.3bn event cancellation fund, in line with several other European countries. It feels like this government has little interest in music and the arts – with their Brexit fumbles and the chaos over visas and carnets and now this lack of commitment to insurance its like we are handing everything on a plate to Europe.
Such a situation puts the UK at a “competitive disadvantage”, UK Music’s chief executive Jamie Njoku-Goodwin warned.
“The real danger here is that, if we see a lot of countries – particularly in Europe and closer to home – protecting their festival seasons, you could almost have a talent transfer,” he told the committee.
There are so many variables but its not impossible. We are in the pandemic dark zone at the moment and numbers are at their highest ever but they may start coming down in March. Trouble is festivals take a lot of long term planning. Major acts have to be booked months in advance but surely this is an opportunity for a headline act to make themselves available at short notice – get into the spirit of things if they can be made to happen.
it’s going to be touch and go and the virus calls the shots but with nimble thinking, will power and a willingness to make things happen safely there is still an opportunity to somehow salvage something.