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June 21st delay: Over 5,000 shows by artists including Rag'n'Bone Man, McFly and Rudimental at risk of collapse

June 21st delay: Over 5,000 shows by artists including Rag'n'Bone Man, McFly and Rudimental at risk of collapse

  • Widespread venue and festival closures expected as 65% of festivals say they are set to collapse in the event of a five-week delay

  • UK’s iconic £4.5 billion live music sector calls for Government to release Events Research Programme findings and “follow its own science”

  • 5,000 shows at risk with estimated financial damage of over £500million as 248 grassroots venues face immediate risk of eviction

New research published today shows that even a four-week delay to the Government’s roadmap would cost the live music sector over £500m, with the summer festival season at risk of total collapse.

Over 5,000 shows by artists including Olly Murs, Tom Odell, Rag'n'Bone Man, Beverley Knight, McFly, Alexandra Burke and Rudimental say they would either need to cancel or postpone, incurring immediate costs across the live music supply chain and further damaging an industry already hanging in the balance.

The rumoured move comes despite the fact that by the Government’s own evidence, large scale events can happen safely with the right precautions in place.

The Government’s Events Research Programme findings have been widely reported as showing that with screening, improved ventilation and other mitigating factors, mass events can be as safe as a trip to the supermarket.

The live music sector is now calling for Government to publish this data in full so that they are able to follow their own science, and allow the live events sector to adapt to a ‘new normal’ where they are able to deploy precautions to allow events to take place safely as the threat of COVID reduces.

Greg Parmley, CEO of LIVE said:

“The Government has said it wants to protect the domestic unlock at all costs, but delaying the roadmap leaves us in limbo – unable to proceed with plans and enjoy our summer at home, forced to abandon large scale events that the public are so looking forward to after a year of cancellations.

“By its own evidence from the Events Research Programme, as we saw at both the Brits and in Liverpool, large scale events can happen safely with the right precautions in place. The Government must now follow its own science if it is to avoid the decline of the UK’s world-leading live music industry, which absolutely cannot afford to miss out on another summer of cancelled events after a year on pause.”

Any further delay from Government about how to reopen risks denting confidence even further – particularly if mitigation advice that was expected from the Events Research Programme, suddenly fails to exist.

The live music sector remains ready to restart, having invested time, money, and resources in the precautions required to make events safe. Venues and festivals are equipped to carry out safely and to a high standard as soon as Government gives the green light.

Lucy Noble, Chair of the National Arenas Association said:

“The pilot shows at the Brits and Liverpool were touted as the key to getting back to full capacity live performance, which is why it’s extremely frustrating that the Government refuses to publish the full report and allow the sector to open up through the carefully planned precautions which are currently waiting in the wings.

“We implore the Government to follow their own scientific data that proves live events are safe with the right mitigations. Now is the time for them to protect the live events sector for generations to come.”

Any delay to the 21 June reopening date will have significant and immediate repercussions, including 248 grassroots music venues that would face an immediate threat of eviction without a robust and comprehensive response from government that fully addresses their financial losses from delayed reopening. 

Mark Davyd, CEO of MVT said:

"In the event of any delay to reopening, government action to restore confidence to the sector will need to be swift, decisive and comprehensive. Any decision to delay places the sector in the most perilous and uncertain situation since April 2020. All that has been done by government, the public, artist and communities to save our venues risks being undone." 

A delay would not only affect events in the short term but will damage organisers’ ability to put on events in future, following over a year of lost revenue and cancelled activity.

The UK’s much anticipated summer festival season would also see significant casualties, with 65% of all AIF member festivals saying they will be forced to cancel if faced with a five-week delay - and 21% already gone.

James King, CEO of European Festivals at AEG Presents said:

"A delay into July without a clear road map to get back to Step 4 puts an impossible strain on all festivals, including AEG’s All Points East Festival, along with our suppliers across the industry.

"We cannot keep waiting indefinitely without knowing when Step 4 will take place, and this uncertainty will undoubtedly result - by default - in more cancellations. We are desperate for the UK festival season to begin again, but an undated reopening makes long term planning and investment unfeasible."


The live music industry supports 210,000 full-time equivalent roles, as well as over 90,000 freelancers. A delay while, affecting hundreds of thousands of livelihoods, would have a ripple affect across the industry - grassroots venues will no longer be able to host early talent, communities will miss out on local events, concerts and tours will be paused up and down the country, and for many festival organisers, the much-loved British summer season will be called off for a second year.

Association of Festival Organisers (AFO): 11th Jun 2021 18:50:00

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