Cancelled: Music festival in North Yorkshire with band James is off in warning signs of possible roadmap problems
North Yorkshire's Deer Shed Festival, one of the country's most highly-regarded independent music and arts festivals, will not now take place this year in a worrying sign for both the roadmap and the return of live music.
Held annually in July at Baldersby Park near Topcliffe and Masham, Deer Shed Festival is one of only several outdoor events including Download Festival and Boomtown Festival to announce its cancellation this week after the Government held firm in its refusal to offer festival insurance against coronavirus.
Family-run Deer Shed Festival, which usually hosts 10,000 fans, was set to welcome the likes of James and Stereolab from July 30 – August 1, but said that the lack of insurance made it too risky financially to go ahead.
Existing tickets holders can apply for refunds but are being encouraged to support Deer Shed by retaining them for use at the 2022 event.
Deer Shed Festival tweeted to disappointed fans: "Hi Deer Shedders, we have bad news. We've made the difficult decision to postpone Deer Shed until 2022 due to a lack of COVID cancellation insurance. The good news is, we have a back-up plan for summer 2021."
Reading and Leeds Festivals boss Melvin Benn of Festival Republic has been among the voices in the music scene pleading with the Government to offer festival insurance, saying the risk for any independent festival to commit to upfront, non-refundable costs in the absence of insurance was simply too great.
After the Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden again declined this week to intervene, Mr Benn said: “The worry about insurance is not confined to the smaller festivals, I have that worry too. We’re all working really tightly together on all of this – the big festivals and small festivals are being very collaborative.”
But Tory MPs are divided on Britain's approach. The chair and deputy chair of the Covid Recovery Group, Mark Harper and Steve Baker, have made public details of a letter to Boris Johnson signed by 42 Conservative MPs, calling on the prime minister to save summer festivals and live events.
They are asking the government to back a £250 million insurance scheme for event organisers to "ensure that live music festivals can proceed with their plans to go ahead after 21 June".
As part of the Government's plans to fully end lockdown on June 21, its is working with Festival Republic on a pilot live show at Sefton Park in Liverpool on May 2.
The Events Research Programme test event headlined by indie band the Blossoms will be facemask-free brt but attendees will have to provide proof of a coronavirus negative test before gaining entry.
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