Festival boss backs campaign
Benn, managing director of Festival Republic, which oversees Leeds Festival, has joined leading figures from the arts and culture industry by signing an open letter to the government.
The group sounded their support for the government’s ambition to return to full-capacity audiences without restrictions as soon as possible, and recognised the role that Covid status certification could play in reducing social distancing.
The letter said they would expect certification to be based on proof of vaccination, a negative Covid test or an antibody test.
Leeds Festival is set to take place in Bramham Park on August 27 to 29.
Acts lined up to play include Liam Gallagher, Stormzy and Post Malone.
Last week, new additions were announced - including Sam Fender, Wolf Alice, Slowthai, Machine Gun Kelly, Aitch and Becky Hill.
Benn has previously told MPs that “you can’t have festivals with social distancing”.
Earlier this month, organisers of the Boomtown Fair music festival, which was set to take place in Hampshire, announced they were cancelling this summer’s event, blaming pandemic uncertainty and the lack of a Government-backed insurance scheme.
Other events which have been cancelled include Glastonbury Download and British Summer Time in Hyde Park
The letter has also been signed by actor Ralph Fiennes, James Bond film producer Barbara Broccoli and composer Andrew Lloyd Webber.
It read: “The creative industries are the beating heart of society, providing jobs and entertainment to people of all ages, and we are committed to working with the government to ensure a return to normality across our sectors.
“The prospect of reopening gives us much hope, as a continuation of restrictions threatens additional financial pressures on the sector.
We strongly support the Government’s ambition to return to full capacity audiences without restrictions as soon as possible, and we recognise that this can be only be achieved through gathering evidence that it is safe to remove or lessen restrictions, including looking at how Covid status certification could aid the reduction of social distancing.
“We understand that this approach would involve either proof of vaccination, a negative Covid test or an antibody test to allow access to a venue.”
“We are clear that this approach must not rely only on proof of vaccination, and also that it must only be a temporary measure, only used for as long as necessary.”
The signatories added that the approach should “not be discriminatory, should protect privacy, and have clear exit criteria”.
They added: “If all of this holds true, then we are very much supportive of the continued exploration of this possibility to bring life back to normal as soon as possible.”