For many of us, festivals like Glastonbury are a much anticipated part of our summer. But not this year.
Covid-19 has had a major impact on many different industries, as well as lives. As summer fastly approaches, live events have either been cancelled or put on hold. And the impact, both locally and internationally looks to be substantial.
Many popular events across England have been cancelled as a result of the pandemic. In the South West, one of the biggest money generators, Glastonbury Festival has been suspended this year. Tickets usually go for around £245 for the weekend plus camping. The music festival not only brings gifted artists together but various traders too, who rely on this annual event to keep themselves afloat.
Nothing has been said so far on whether the festival plans to support its traders through this difficult time. Many of these people are likely to be self-employed so are not eligible for the government’s generous furlough scheme, even though they can still receive a substantial financial cushion based on their particular employment category.
According to the BBC, Glastonbury’s bank balance is a little over £10m to account for ‘unforeseen events’. Well, this year, some rain and mud are the least of its worries. Big names were due to headline this summer, including Diana Ross, Dua Lipa, Manic Street Preachers, Taylor Swift and Sir Paul McCartney. Glastonbury is one of the longest-running international music events that brings a colourful bouquet of artists from all over the world.
Even for people like me, who happen to live within a 40-mile radius of the site, the negatives of hosting an annual live music even for around 200,000 people do not outweigh the positives; namely, a much-needed boost to the local economy.
Another event in my home town that has had to be be postponed is Bridgwater Carnival. Every year, an estimated 250,000 people come to Bridgwater to watch the largest illuminated carnival in Europe. I have attended the carnival myself three times so know how much money is both gained and spent on such delights.
But Bridgwater Carnival is not the only annual event to have been cancelled this year. Carnivals in towns like North Petherton, Burnham-on-Sea, Weston-Super-Mare, Glastonbury, Wells, and in Shepton Mallet have all met the same fate. This includes the South Somerset circuit, encompassing towns such as Taunton, Ilminster, Chard and Wellington. Likewise for the Wessex Grand Prix circuit, including the towns of Mere, Frome, Shaftesbury, Gillingham, Wincanton, Castle Cary, Salisbury, Trowbridge and Warminster.
An official message on the Somersetcarnivals website reads:
‘Unfortunately all carnivals on this circuit have been postponed due to Covid-19. We look forward to them returning in November 2021’.
National and International
A major series of Scotland-based events broadcast all over the world under the umbrella name of The Edinburgh Festival have been cancelled. Every August, Scotland’s main festivals take place. These include The Edinburgh Military Tattoo, Edinburgh International Film Festival, Edinburgh International Book Festival and the Edinburgh International Television Festival. Throughout the whole summer, these festivals bring in millions of pounds to the local economy in Scotland. This is despite a 2017 Guardian article claiming that organisers from the Edinburgh Fringe Festival haven’t made a profit in five years. Funds don’t only come from ticket sales but also from broadcasting rights of some of the fringe shows and for the main event, The Edinburgh Military Tattoo.
Further national events that have either been postponed, cancelled or modified from their current format include The Royal Chelsea Flower Show, Pride 2020, Download, Latitude and more importantly the 2020 local elections.
When it comes to elections, national parties and their regions will already have invested much time and effort in campaigning straight after the general election of December 2019.
The Royal Chelsea Flower show has been modified to video entries only. Almost all of the Pride events in the UK have been cancelled. As of March 2020, Birmingham Pride has been postponed until September 2020, London Pride has been postponed but with no confirmed future date, and Bristol Pride has also been postponed but with no confirmed return date. A full list of all the global Prides that have either been cancelled or postponed can be found here.
The main international event now moved to 2021 as a result of the pandemic are the Olympic Games, due to have been hosted in Tokyo, Japan. The money that has been spent on the merchandising and branding will have largely gone to waste, as will have venue hire costs and the costs of travel for the athletes and their delegations.
So far, there has been no official figure of the cost to the IOC (International Olympic Committee) as a result of the pandemic. There has also been no official communication on whether athletes will have to requalify and if so, what the cost of that will be. With the Olympics moved to 2021, Lord Sebastian Coe, head of the IAAF, has stated that the 2021 World Athletics championships which were due to be held in Eugene, Orgeon have been moved to 2022. The new timetable gives competing athletes only a few weeks’ break between The World Athletics Championships, and The 2022 Commonwealth Games which are due to be held in Birmingham, United Kingdom.
With so many important events cancelled it has ben predicted that there is likely to be a global financial crash after the pandemic has subsided. So far, Covid-19 has generated a global recession, the biggest and steepest since The Great Depression of the late 1920s.
Live events make a significant contribution to a country’s economy and the damage caused by this pandemic may need years before lives and livelihoods are brought to pre-Covid levels.