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We seem to be making progress with Government!

After several weeks of discussions with government departments the live music world was very pleased to hear the Chancellor announce a £1.57Bn support package for Arts & Heritage.  This, alongside a drop of 15% in VAT on sales of tickets for attractions.  Yes, festivals are attractions.

The latter is to run from 15 of July to 12 of January 2021.  It was an immediate boost, especially for those who can sell as many tickets as possible for shows and festivals that they are staging in the New Year.

AFO then teamed up with other associations to get real hard confirmation that first, our festivals did qualify for a 15% reduction in VAT on those tickets.  That was confirmed so now you must take advantage.

We then moved on to achieve similar confirmation that our events would be included as “festivals” and so be able to apply to ACE for funds from the £1.57Bn Arts & Heritage fund.

This was a much harder battle and involved gathering lots more facts, figures, and information from the festivals to support our case.  Many of them submitted the information and thank you to those who did.  We collated that over the weekend of 11/12 July and submitted a full report to DCMS.

They had a few more questions (so did we), but the end result was DCMS confirming the case for festivals to be included.  Another battle was won.

There was a note of caution.  The new fund may seem a lot but there will be thousands of organisations applying.  ACE will be the assessors and bankers and the guidelines will be from DCMS first in about 10 days’ time (27 July approx.).  Then ACE will apply their own system and take advice from their selected advisory board.  Applications can then commence.

The note of caution is “Don’t expect HM government to replace lost profit, don’t expect them to totally make up for having no festival this year.”  They will, through ACE, consider applications for reasonable sums that can be shown to be necessary in order to keep festival organisations afloat until they can earn their keep next year.

Details will come - don’t ask us now.

AFO sent thanks to DCMS staff for making representation on our behalf and using our submission to push home our case for inclusion.

Any funds that are awarded will be grants not loans.  The bar will be set very high, so once a festival knows they want to apply start planning to deliver a lot of information.  Festivals must also be ready to prove the figures

Any “silly” requests will be rejected at an early stage.

It is our belief that these grants will be in thousands of pounds, not hundreds of thousands.

Organisers may need to prove their organisation is heading for insolvency and have exhausted all other means of funds to cover their shortfall.

They can also help their case by demonstrating a festival’s social and economic impact on the community.
Consider showing contribution to education, diversity, equal opportunities, and the environment.
These points will all support the case.  Just “give us some cash” won’t quite do it.

Finally, if a festival believes they have international impact, a place in national and international tourism, or even count as one of “the crown jewels” it will all help that case.

Remember, this fund is not “grants for the arts”.  It is extra taxpayer’s money allocated by government to assist the Arts, Events and Festival world survive another winter before getting back on its own two feet in 2021.

Association of Festival Organisers (AFO): 20th Jul 2020 17:10:00

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