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Festival promoters call for Federal Government insurance scheme

Festival promoters call for Federal Government insurance scheme
October 22, 2020

Music festival promoters are calling for a Federal Government backed insurance scheme to protect against future cancellations.

The push for governmental support follows a challenging year of the sector, suffering cancellations and massive losses, first due to bushfires and subsequently due to the ongoing Coronavirus restrictions.

Speaking to the ABC News, Bluesfest Director Peter Noble said putting on an event was a “huge risk” in the current environment.

Noble was forced to cancel this year’s music festival in Byron Bay, despite having sunk around $10 million into marketing, artist deposits, flights and accommodation, booked suppliers and 30,000 sold tickets.

While Bluesfest had cancellation insurance, that included pandemic risk which he described as “a godsend for us”, Noble advised “all it meant was our ticket buyers were insured,” he said. “It didn’t cover our profit or creditors. It covered that our ticket buyers would get their money back.”

However, other festival promoters were so not fortunate, with Groovin the Moo’s insurance not covering communicable diseases.

Groovin The Moo General Manager Kathryn Holloway told ABC News the result of the cancelled festival was “a huge financial loss and emotional loss”, noting “in terms of finances, there was all the costs that are sunk that you can’t recoup.

“By the time we refunded tickets to patrons as well, the losses were substantial.”

However, specialist insurance broker Ian Stack says the result of the current situation means major events can no longer get coverage for communicable diseases.

Stack noted “unfortunately, now that COVID-19 is a known risk, all the insurance companies are actually excluding communicable disease and not allowing it to be bought out.

“It’s virtually impossible at the moment to get cover for that risk.”

While some festivals are looking at returning in 2021, Stack told the ABC they are “second guessing themselves at the moment.

“If the promoters are going to run events, they’ll have to look at non-insurance ways to protect their exposure.”

Noble called on the Federal Government to underwrite the risk so that major events can go ahead, suggesting “nobody wants to spend $10 million to find that on the day they can’t open their gates.

“We’ve all been through that once. We don’t want to go through it twice.”

Holloway said the industry is facing the double whammy of increased insurance premiums and no coverage for communicable disease as part of their policies.

She concluded “that means there’s a gap and no safety net for the promoter.

“We could suffer a massive loss and even more jobs will be lost, that would be completely catastrophic.

“The government needs to step in and provide us with an interruption fund.”

Images: Bluesfest (top) and promoter Peter Noble (below).

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25th September 2020 - NSW Government relaxes restrictions for cinemas, events, sport and theatre

24th September 2020 - Australia joins international initiative to highlight the live events sector urgently needs Government support

10th September 2020 - Entertainment and events industry leaders say New Zealand Government is letting the sector ‘slowly die’

27th July 2020 - Bluesfest highlights losses incurred due to festival cancellation in 2020

22nd July 2020 - Live Entertainment Industry Forum applauds Australian Government’s JobKeeper extension

12th June 2020 - Live Entertainment Industry Forum welcomes potential easing of restrictions on outdoor sport and entertainment venues

13th May 2020 - Woodford Folk Festival founder Bill Hauritz says event will survive

6th May 2020 - Falls Festival looks to 2020/21 editions with all Australian lineup

30th April 2019 - Pill testing saves lives at ACT’s Groovin the Moo festival

12th February 2019 - NSW Government stance on festivals sees Byron Bay Bluesfest Director threaten to move event

16th July 2018 - Pollstar acknowledges Bluesfest as Australia’s top music festival

20th February 2018 - LPA releases new Safety Guidelines for the Live Entertainment and Events Industries

2nd September 2014 - Live entertainment industry generates record $1.47 billion in revenue

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