Festivals and live music need more support in 2021 says Parklife founder

'The festival sector urgently needs clarity, route maps and realistic time frames of when and how it can recover' says Sacha Lord
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As the fifth biggest industry in the UK, the night time economy covers all activity between 6pm and 6am including hospitality, leisure, healthcare, transport and emergency services.

It employs just under 10 percent of the total UK workforce – but it has also been one of the sectors hardest hit by the pandemic.

Speaking to MPs during a Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee inquiry this morning, Sacha Lord, co-founder of Manchester’s Parklife festival and The Warehouse Project, has called for a five-point plan to kickstart the festival and music events industry in 2021.

Combined, both The Warehouse Project and Parklife brought a combined £20.9m into the local economy (Greater Manchester) in 2019.

Photo: Greater Mancunians Project

The five-point plan consists of: a target date for sector reopening at full capacity to enable better preparation for organisers and suppliers; a government backed coronavirus cancellation insurance scheme; an extension of the VAT reduction to 5% on ticket sales for three years; an extension of business rate relief; and an extension to furlough support until the sector can return to full capacity.

“I welcome today’s inquiry into the future of festivals and thank the Committee for their support in holding the government to account on policy making for the sector,” said Sacha, who was appointed in 2018 as Greater Manchester’s first ever Night Time Economy Adviser.

“Festivals bring huge economic value to the UK, not only in terms of ticket sales, but from a tourism, hospitality, transport and cultural perspective.

“Parklife itself employs over 4,500 people over the weekend and combined, both The Warehouse Project and Parklife brought £20.9m into Greater Manchester in 2019, a significant loss that has been felt across the region.”

“The industry has been absolutely decimated this year. It’s not just the individual festival organisers and suppliers who have taken a hit, but the freelancers who work on site during the events, and who have had little to no financial support.

“As an industry that has to work many months ahead by its very nature, the festival sector urgently needs clarity, route maps and realistic time frames of when and how it can recover.

“At Parklife, we have already booked over 250 artists for this September’s festival

“These artists will soon require their deposits, and rightly so, but we need assurance from the government that they believe the sector can get moving this year and that we can hit our targets. We simply cannot leave it to the last minute.

“The help to date has been good, but it is not enough and today I called for financial extensions to help prop up the industry until we can fully recover. 

“We need further ongoing support around business rates relief and a continuation of furlough past April until we can return to full capacity. 

“Similarly, the VAT reduction to 5% must continue. 

“While it’s been reasonably helpful, organisers are not currently selling tickets so the present benefits are limited.

“I trust the Commons Select Committee will take the evidence and advice we have proposed today to the government for discussion, and I look forward to a return of live music and the UK rebuilding its leading status as the global cultural capital later this year.”

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