Industry boss warns of ‘perfect storm’ heading for UK festival season in 2022

The chief executive of the Association of Independent Festivals said despite best efforts it would not be back to ‘business as usual’ this summer

Mike Bedigan
Tuesday 15 February 2022 11:00
<p>‘The absence of festivals has been felt keenly by artists, the wider supply chain and of course audiences,’ said Paul Reed of AIF</p>

‘The absence of festivals has been felt keenly by artists, the wider supply chain and of course audiences,’ said Paul Reed of AIF

The UK’s 2022 festival season may be hit by a “perfect storm” of supply chain crises, workforce shortages and impacts from Brexit, an industry boss has warned.

Paul Reed, chief executive of the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF), said despite best efforts it would not be back to “business as usual” this summer.

Speaking during the AIF’s Festival Congress 2022, Mr Reed said serious challenges still faced the live industry.

“The cultural and wellbeing benefits of festivals cannot be measured,” he said.

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“We know they are profound, and the absence of festivals has been felt keenly by artists, the wider supply chain and of course audiences.

He added that as well as the loss of skilled workforce, the industry was facing a 20-30 per cent increase in costs across the board and a government-backed insurance scheme that was “not fit for purpose”.

“We are facing a perfect storm in many ways,” he said.

“We may be emerging from the shadow of the pandemic in the UK, but this year will not be a case of ‘back to business as usual’ without critical support for festival organisers.”

Mr Reed said serious challenges still faced the live industry

Mr Reed called for continued VAT relief on festival tickets beyond the end of March in order to alleviate pressures as well as some form of government-backed loan scheme for suppliers to encourage investment in the festival supply chain.

He also urged the government to reconsider removing tax incentives to use certain biofuels, stating that this should be kept at the current rate to encourage use of greener fuels at festivals.

“AIF fought hard to represent the needs of independent festival operators during the course of the pandemic and made sure your voices were heard in the corridors of power,” he said.

“We will continue to do so during what is still a very challenging time.”

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