AIF welcomes emergency fund eligibility for festivals

Government and Arts Council England confirm festival inclusion after AIF intervention

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Boomtown 2018, Image: Charlie Raven

The Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) welcomes the Government’s confirmation that UK festivals will share in the recently announced £1.57 billion cultural emergency fund.

A £500m fund will be distributed to cultural organisations across England during the COVID-19 crisis, with grants ranging between £50,000 and £3 million.

The news comes after AIF called for urgent clarity on the eligibility of UK festivals for the financial support package.

The trade body subsequently submitted a report to DCMS based on comprehensive survey information and data from its members to support this argument.

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Festivals that contributed to the data ranged from 2,500-66,000 in licensed capacity, and 91% of respondents were based outside of London.

The report highlighted that the music festival sector generates an estimated £1.75 billion GVA for the UK annually, with at least 10% of this directly benefitting local businesses and economies. The sector supports 85,000 jobs and the UK is world-renowned as a leader in music festivals.

AIF CEO Paul Reed said: “While the effectiveness of this emergency fund in helping our sector through the pandemic will be determined by exactly how it is allocated, we are cautiously optimistic about this update, which makes the eligibility of festivals explicit.

“We understand that, thanks to contributions from our members illustrating their current predicament, DCMS officials were able to make significant representations for festival inclusion and we’re very thankful for that support.

“Festivals across the UK are undoubtedly ‘crown jewels’, both culturally and economically, in the local areas they serve and the nation as a whole. Supporting the sector until next year will also kick-start other parts of the supply chain. Survival, and a healthy festival market in 2021, will result in artists being booked, sites and stages being built and money being spent by the public.”