Hopes high for return to Festival Island for 2021

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“We are all guns blazing for 2021 — it’ll be like the Roaring Twenties when we’re back in the festival field.”

These were the words of Isle of Wight Festival boss John Giddings, who has sold 40,000 tickets for next year and is determined the show will go on.

“It is good news about the vaccine, and our fingers, arms and legs are crossed. I will definitely be up for it,” he said.

“I have a meeting this week about booking the 2022 acts — we are not going to give up.

“People have missed it, they want to come back and I will do everything in my physical power to make it happen.

“Covid can’t go on forever, and when we are back at the festival it will be like the Roaring Twenties.”

Mr Giddings spoke exclusively to the County Press about the news MPs are to examine the plight of music festivals in the UK following the widespread cancellations across the year.

The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee will look at how government policy could support festivals due to take place in 2021.

Following the cancellations of the Isle of Wight Festival, Glastonbury and smaller grassroots events, including Jack Up the Summer and Rhythmtree, the sector has seen revenues fall by 90 per cent.

Some 4.9 million people attended a festival in the UK in 2018, with festivals estimated to have generated £1.76 billion in gross value added last year.

Mr Giddings said: “We have seen very little support from the government towards the live music industry, considering how much we contribute to the economy. What do MPs know about festivals?”

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Read more: Isle of Wight Festival 2021 announces dates and line-up

However, Sarah Moss, event organiser for Jack Up Events, is leading a consortium of Island festival and big show organisers, and she is hopeful the government will help.

She is pushing for government-backed insurance to give event organisers the confidence to go ahead with plans for next year.

She has been in talks with Island MP Bob Seely, who has been supportive.

Isle of Wight County Press: A previous Jack Up the 80s event A previous Jack Up the 80s event

She said: “We are known as Festival Island and our industry plays a critical role towards the Isle of Wight economy and bringing tourism here.

“But there’s been no support from government at all. A lot of us run seasonal events so we don’t have business premises and don’t pay rates, so there were no grants.

“A lot are run by limited companies so there’s no support for them either. We’ve all fallen through the cracks.

“We are facing financial hardship and moving forward with continued uncertainty, so no insurer will insure us, but if the government back the insurance, it will give us that crucial confidence to go ahead and make plans, which we are all desperate to do.

“One of the positives to come out of this is that us event organisers are working together, and as we have a unique culture here, we are proud to be leading the way.”

DCMS committee chairman Julian Knight said: “The collapse of the vibrant music festival sector this year is a real cause for concern. The majority of festivals have been cancelled, with the money they generate down by 90 per cent and real risks surrounding their future viability.

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“We have so many legendary festivals that have given the UK a worldwide reputation — it would be devastating if they were unable to come back with a bang, or if smaller festivals that underpin the talent pipeline disappear entirely.

“It’s crucial that support to enable music festivals to go ahead in 2021 and beyond is put in place. We’ll be assessing what’s been done so far and what more needs to be done to safeguard the future of festivals.”



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