When the UK government announced its £1.57 billion ($2 billion) rescue fund for cultural businesses at the beginning of July, the country's independent festival association AIF felt left out, seeing that festivals weren't specifically mentioned in the report.
AIF subsequently submitted a report to the government's Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) based on comprehensive survey information and data from its 65 members to prove the economic contribution the independent festival makes to the UK economy each year.
Festivals that contributed to the data ranged from 2,500-66,000 in licensed capacity, and 91% of respondents were based outside of London, according to a press release from AIF.
The report highlighted that the music festival sector generates an estimated £1.75 billion GVA ($2.3 billion) for the UK annually, with at least 10% of this benefitting local businesses and economies. The sector also supports 85,000 jobs.
The message seems to have been received by the UK government. While it still hasn't mentioned festivals by name in the official texts published, AIF CEO Paul Reed confirmed with Pollstar that "DCMS have confirmed directly with us in advance that festivals are eligible."
Of the £1.57 billion fund, £500 million will be distributed to cultural organisations including festivals across England with grants ranging between £50,000 and £3 million.
Said Reed: "While the effectiveness of this emergency fund in helping our sector through the pandemic will be determined by exactly how it is allocated, we are cautiously optimistic about this update, which makes the eligibility of festivals explicit.
"We understand that, thanks to contributions from our members illustrating their current predicament, DCMS officials were able to make significant representations for festival inclusion and we’re very thankful for that support.
"Festivals across the UK are undoubtedly ‘crown jewels’, both culturally and economically, in the local areas they serve and the nation as a whole. Supporting the sector until next year will also kick-start other parts of the supply chain. Survival, and a healthy festival market in 2021, will result in artists being booked, sites and stages being built and money being spent by the public."