The music industry has reacted strongly to the news that Glastonbury Festival will endure another enforced fallow year, with many calling the cancellation a "devastating" blow.
Phil Bowdery, chair of the Concert Promoters Association, said: “It is devastating that Glastonbury, one of the crown jewels of the UK’s live music and festival scene, has been forced to cancel for another year. With some light at the end of the tunnel with the vaccine roll out underway we need time to prepare and we desperately need a Government-backed insurance scheme to unlock our future. Now more than ever we need this to be put in place or our globally successful festival industry could be damaged for years to come.”
Paul Reed, chief executive of the Association of Independent Festivals, said that Glastonbury's cancellation doesn't necessarily spell the end of festival season for 2021, but sounded a note of caution.
“Considering its global cultural significance as the largest greenfield festival in the world, of course Glastonbury can set the tone, especially in terms of public confidence in festivals going ahead this year," said Reed. "Though I must stress that there are 975 festivals in the UK and, although large festivals may make decisions this month on whether to go ahead in 2021, as we have seen today, for many smaller festivals, the cut-off point will be more like March or early April. We’re already starting to see festivals in May and June shift to later in the year.”
He added: “Glastonbury's cancellation shows that we weren't bluffing when we told the DCMS Select Committee that we need urgent government intervention if we are to maintain the potential for a festival season in the UK this year. The clock is ticking. It takes a minimum of six to eight months to stage a festival and costs anything between £500,000 to plan a 5,000-capacity festival, to £12 million for a 70,000-capacity festival, which is why we’ve been asking for intervention on government-backed insurance and for some sense of a timeframe on reopening.”
UK Music chief executive Jamie Njoku-Goodwin said: "This cancellation is devastating for all of us on both on a personal and professional level. It will have a serious impact on thousands of jobs right across the country and many jobs in the supply chains for Glastonbury.
"There is now a huge cloud of uncertainty hanging over the whole summer festival and live music season with the entire industry left in limbo and thousands more jobs in jeopardy."
Michael Kill, CEO of the Night Time Industries Association said: the fallow year will hurt “festival-goers and businesses looking at the summer season, and the opportunity to trade in 2021.”
Kill added: "The Government must recognise the impact of the negligible levels of support given to the festival and events sector, and work through a solution that will safeguard the sector, and allow the 2021 festival and events season to take place across the UK.”
Our globally successful festival industry could be damaged for years to come
Phil Bowdery, Concert Promoters Association
DCMS Committee chair Julian Knight MP, fresh from this week’s parliamentary hearing, said: “The news that the UK has lost the Glastonbury Festival for a second year running is devastating. We have repeatedly called for ministers to act to protect our world-renowned festivals like this one with a Government-backed insurance scheme. Our plea fell on deaf ears and now the chickens have come home to roost. The jewel in the crown will be absent but surely the Government cannot ignore the message any longer – it must act now to save this vibrant and vital festivals sector.”
In a statement, organisers Michael and Emily Eavis announced their “great regret” at having to pull the event for the second consecutive summer due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
"In spite of our efforts to move heaven and earth, it has become clear that we simply will not be able to make the Festival happen this year,” their statement read. “We are so sorry to let you all down."
Once again, those with tickets have the option to roll their £50 deposot over for next summer, when the organisers hope to be able to deliver a festival that fans and the music industry alike are waiting for.
Last summer, the BBC reached millions with its TV, radio and online coverage. Plans for this year are expected to be revealed soon.
Read the statement in full below and read Music Week's interview with Emily Eavis here.
With great regret, we must announce that this year’s Glastonbury Festival will not take place, and that this will be another enforced fallow year for us. Tickets for this year will roll over to next year. Full statement below and on our website. Michael & Emily pic.twitter.com/SlNdwA2tHd— Glastonbury Festival (@glastonbury) January 21, 2021
Peter Heath, Managing Director of PLASA and co-founder of #WeMakeEvents said: “The announcement that Glastonbury festival has been cancelled again is devastating news for the UK’s live events industry and the supply-chain that make them happen. Thousands of people relying on the festival season are now without the biggest event in the year and there is a real worry that more festivals will soon follow. Over the duration of the pandemic 400,000 jobs have been lost in the sector, and we are now urging the government to provide financial support to protect the wider the supply chain. This uncertainty is having a catastrophic domino effect on the people and the whole live events ecosystem.”
Njoku-Goodwin added: “It is absolutely critical that the government look at more financial support for the music industry and those who work in it as a matter of urgency. Without more government help, there is a real risk that some of our world-leading music scene will disappear forever.
"The music industry is desperate to get back on its feet when we can operate safely. When the time comes for the post-pandemic recovery, we can play our role in our country's economic and cultural revival. But until that point, we need more financial support to keep us going. If that support is not forthcoming, we will risk losing some of our finest emerging talent with the fear that Covid could rip a giant and permanent hole in the UK's music scene and our cultural fabric."
Anna Hedges, WaterAid’s special events project manager, said: “WaterAid is really sorry to hear that Glastonbury 2021 has had to be cancelled. We appreciate all the efforts to make the Festival happen and understand it was a difficult decision, but ultimately the right one to ensure everybody’s safety.
“Glastonbury Festival is always a highlight in our calendar, and we feel privileged to be part of this very special event, together with our volunteers who support our activities at Worthy Farm. We have had the chance to meet so many festival-goers over the years who have supported us in different ways, and are also fortunate to have received generous donations from the Festival, helping us transform lives around the world with clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene. When the event was cancelled last year, we were so grateful to receive almost £100,000 raised through the sale of merchandise.
“We would like to thank Michael and Emily Eavis and the team for their ongoing support and look forward to working with them to bring the best event we can in 2022.”