More UK festivals pull the plug | Slovenia hosts its first major festival | Relief package for California venues

‘I can’t dance’ - Genesis

Okay, we know we sound like a broken record but the live events industry in the UK is still hanging in limbo with no sign of additional government insurance support. Planning large festivals and concerts continues to be out of the question for many organizers as there is no confirmation that they would be able to go ahead with 100% certainty. Especially with the recent extension of Phase 3 restrictions to July 19, many summer festivals have had to pull the plug for a second year in a row, including WOMAD. Founder Peter Gabriel (yes-THE Peter Gabriel from Genesis) stated “without the simple support of a government insurance scheme or the guarantee of test event status, we cannot continue and put WOMAD’s long term future at risk”. The 40,000 capacity festival was planned for July 22-25, only 72 hours after Phase 3 is scheduled to end and move into Phase 4.

Y Not Festival and Fairport’s Cropredy Convention also announced this week they’ve canceled as they would risk facing huge losses and had no choice but to postpone until 2022. Frustrations are high as some events (like Latitude and Tramlines) have been given the nod to be part of the Events Research Programme as ‘Test Events’, allowing them to move forward as normal whereas others are not so lucky. Only events that have been granted this status will be guaranteed to go ahead and will be protected.

Industry professionals will be keeping a close watch on the issue over the next couple weeks as they are expecting an announcement from the Government regarding a possible insurance scheme.

A reason to smile

June 24 2021 is a night to remember for 5,000 fans who attended Slovenia’s first festival since the start of the pandemic. “Smile Festival” had people dancing late into the night in Ljubljana without masks or social distancing and it turned out to be a small beacon of hope for other events in Europe and beyond. It acts as yet another stepping stone to prove that events can be hosted safely with appropriate safety protocols. The 7th edition of the festival promised and delivered a stacked lineup that included Quintino, Marnick and Nervo, among others.

Despite there being no social distancing or mask mandate, everyone on site had to either present a negative COVID-19 test, be fully vaccinated or had recovered in the past 6 months. Temperatures were also taken and sanitizing stations were installed at the entrances. Smile Nation, the organizers behind the event, set out to “bring happiness to all who attended" and we think it’s safe to say they achieved this.

California Dreamin'

California's independent venues and live entertainment businesses have been awarded a much needed $150 million relief package which took effect yesterday, July 1. The package comes months after the Small Business Administration delayed federal payout multiple times since the emergency aid was granted in December 2020 and has covered only half of the applications so far.

California venue marquee

On Monday, the California State Legislature passed the $262.2 billion operating budget that included the chunk for the arts industry, which has a major role in the California economy. It comes as no surprise that the delay only extended the struggle for many independent venues who have sat idle waiting for some extra cash to come in and keep them afloat. The National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) has been vocal about the importance of state level funding in addition to the federal level support. Each eligible venue will be administered 20% of their 2019 gross earned revenue or up to $250,000 by the California Venues Grant Program.