Search The AFO

Search for ...
News Stories
Web Pages
Library Resources

Why Cancelled Festivals Will Take Their Toll On Local Businesses

Steve Heap, General Secretary of the Association of Festival Organisers (AFO), says the impact of cancelled festivals will be strongly felt by local businesses in a recent article published in Access All Areas

The 2020 festival season has been wiped out. At the Association of Festival Organisers (AFO), 90 of our member festivals postponed to 2021, while 17 changed their 2020 date in the hope that they could open their gates at the end of the season. Some of these are regretting their decision as the lockdown continues. There is now no doubt at all that if social distancing is on, the festivals are off.

There are an enormous number of stats out there describing the socio-economic impact all this is going to have on the country, and here at AFO we can mark out our corner.

The average size of an AFO member festival is between 3-5000 visits. If we take as an average 3,200 visits, multiplied by 90 festivals – that’s 288,000 people at home when they wanted to be at a festival. According to EIF research in 2018, each one of them would have spent around £320. That puts the total lost income from AFO members at just over £92m. For context, there are at least 1000 festivals each year in UK.

“Lost income from festivals will deprive local businesses, and take away tens of thousands of pounds from the charities that these festivals support.”

This will clearly show up on the UK economy charts and be very visible in each local area. It will deprive local businesses of their annual share of the festival bonus, as well as taking away tens of thousands of pounds from the many charities that these festivals support.

The UK government appeared to step up to the plate with a bottomless pot of funds, but on closer inspection not much of it is available to festival organisers or their events. Most are either volunteers or self-employed. Some are directors of limited or not for profit bodies, and most slip through the cracks of HMRC funding regulations.

So, just like in the foot and mouth outbreak and the banking crisis, festivals are turning to their loyal customers, their booked artists, and their suppliers to pull together and get themselves through this.

Many festivals have sold up to 50% of their tickets for 2020, and reports suggest that most customers are happy to have their money and ticket transferred to 2021. However, when the 2021 season gets underway festivals will have to remarket the new date and changes to the line-up. That will put them in a difficult spot of trying to deliver a 100% festival with about 60/70% of finance, having had to spend a good deal of funds on getting through winter. That is where the UK government bank loans may have to kick in – if there is any money left by April 2021!

The one thing we are sure of is organisers of festivals are dedicated, enthusiastic and resilient. They will return in 2021. They will rebuild their customers confidence in organised crowds and events and adapt to whatever new rules come into play in the post Covid-19 world.


Association of Festival Organisers (AFO): 9th Jun 2020 13:36:00

COVID-19 News
Steve Brine Requests The PM to Speak To DCMS This Summer

Published on: 23rd June 2020

Can we say cheers to plant-based plastic yet?

The sustainability of our environment has not gone away during the COVID crisis. Livvy Drake (Sustainable Sidekicks) guest blog on Vision: 2025 discusses whether "We can say cheers to plant-based plastic yet?"...
Published on: 21st June 2020

Let's re-think our sustainability policies for 2021

With the devastating effect of COVID-19 destroying the 2020 festival season it does give organisers an opportunity to reflect on how they will recover in 2021. More on that in another place. However, it also gives us all the...
Published on: 18th June 2020

Why Cancelled Festivals Will Take Their Toll On Local Businesses

Steve Heap, General Secretary of the Association of Festival Organisers (AFO), says the impact of cancelled festivals will be strongly felt by local businesses in a recent article published in the Access All Areas publication...
Published on: 9th June 2020

Insurance Guidance For Business Interuption Policies

Draft Guidance for Insurance Companies - As part of its investigation into Coronavirus related business interruption insurance, the FCA have published draft guidance on their expectations for insurers and insurance intermedia...
Published on: 8th June 2020

Big Difference Company seeks new CEO for the Leicester Comedy Festival

BIG DIFFERENCE COMPANY seeks new CEO, for the Leicester Comedy Festival and more. This could be a new role and direction for a festival organiser (and this is not a joke )...
Published on: 5th June 2020

Market Traders Survey From NMTF

In a recent survey conducted by NMTF with regard to the effect of COVID-19 and its impact on the market traders, it was revealed that approximately 9000 market traders carry out business at festivals and events in the UK. Th...
Published on: 5th June 2020

Melvin Benn, Festival Republic shows the way to get the festival industry moving again.

Melvin Benn, Managing Director of Festival Republic, has called for the increase of COVID-19 testing in the UK because entertainment and sport cannot operate fully with social distancing measures in place....
Published on: 4th June 2020

82% of Festival goers ready to return to live events

Over three quarters of 110,000 music fans surveyed by Festicket would buy tickets to 2021 festivals in the next two months, as demand for live events remains high...
Published on: 27th May 2020

18th May 2020 - General Secretary Writes

Tell me, why did I get up at 5:30am to drive to the station for an early train that would get me to a meeting in London for 11am? I usually did 3 meetings and caught a train back to be home in time for the 10 o’clock news ...
Published on: 18th May 2020

The Traditional Music Forum launches Scotland Online

A new website with listings of livestream events...
Published on: 14th May 2020

DCMS are looking for your views.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has created a survey to understand the impact of the Coronavirus outbreak on organisations...
Published on: 28th April 2020

UK’s mass participation event organisers unite to launch the 2.6 Challenge

The 2.6 Challenge begins on Sunday 26 April...
Published on: 21st April 2020

Repurposing festival resources to feed the UK

Currently the UK is short of around 90,000 people to pick the crops that are growing ripe across the country....
Published on: 16th April 2020

Labour Party leader, Sir Keir Starmer, forms his first Shadow Cabinet...

... and promotes APPG on Music and DCMS Select Member Jo Stevens MP to the role of Shadow Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport....
Published on: 16th April 2020

COVID-19 leaves UK event industry suppliers on knife edge

Some 60% of the UK’s event industry’s supplier base is facing collapse within three months, unless event businesses receive further support from the Government, according to an on-line survey carried out by the Events Ind...
Published on: 16th April 2020

Family Arts Campaign celebrate last year’s excellent events for families. Time to apply!

Do you put on fantastic festival events for families last year? Are you inclusive and welcoming to all ages? Or perhaps you've been delivering new projects for your older visitors?...
Published on: 6th April 2020

Folks At Home

Enjoy your very own festival of music in the safety of your own home...
Published on: 30th March 2020

From Glastonbury to Ibiza

The 50th festival would have been a blistering good event with lots of very special plans in place. But it wasn’t to be thanx to this …….. virus....
Published on: 20th March 2020

Sustainability Workshops - 25 & 26 April 2020

Running Festivals in a Climate Crisis...
Published on: 9th March 2020

AFO Partners