COVID-19: Boomtown Festival cancelled over ‘lack of government-backed insurance scheme’

Boomtown festival has been cancelled this year, with organisers saying a lack of a government-backed insurance scheme forced its hand.

The event, which sold out its 66,000 tickets in February, was due to take place on the Matterley Estate near Winchester in August.

However, organisers say the cancellation of the event is down to "uncertainty surrounding the pandemic" and "the lack of a Government backed COVID specific insurance scheme".

Last month, Culture Minister Caroline Dinenage said that such a scheme could end up "pulling the rug" from big events, and said the government would not be prepared to look at an insurance package.

In a statement, organisers of Boomtown said: "After almost half a year of collective campaigning to the government, sadly COVID specific cancellation insurance for events still does not exist at this point in time.

"This means anyone putting on an event this year, will be doing so without the safety net of insurance to cover them should COVID prevent them from going ahead in any capacity.

"For an independent event as large and complex as Boomtown, this is a huge gamble of up to an eight figure sum and the financial risk is simply too high."

Boomtown now joins the list of festivals, such as Download and Glastonbury, that have decided not to go ahead with their events this year.

The festival added: "We had planned Chapter One: The Gathering with our values front and centre and the safety and comfort at the top of the agenda for all in attendance, those living in the local area, as well as those working on the event.

"However, it does not feel that at this critical point in time, we have enough of an understanding of what the conditions will be in order for us to safely operate, or the time left to be able to implement it all to put on the show we know we were all waiting for this summer."

Organisers say tickets will be valid for next year, with refunds being given to those who want them.

In response, a government spokesperson said: "More than £34 million from our unprecedented Culture Recovery Fund has supported festivals including Boomtown, Shambala, Glastonbury and Deer Shed Festival. We are aware of the wider concerns about securing indemnity for live events and are exploring what further support we may provide.

"Last week, we announced a new event through our Events Research Programme. This event will test how we can reopen festivals, with an outdoor music at Sefton Park in Liverpool on 2 May.

"Our roadmap provides a clear plan for reopening all sectors in a phased, safe way and we are supporting businesses and organisations to prepare for this."

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