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Your Guide to Giving Evidence to the UK Festivals Inquiry

Have your say in the DCMS Select Committee's inquiry into UK music festivals, and how they can be protected in 2021.

Published: 03 December 2020 | 12:00 AM Updated: 28 April 2021 | 4:32 PM
Photograph of a crowded festival audience, outdoors and the sun is shining.
Help to ensure that the Select Committee understands the role that festivals play within the music industry.

By giving evidence, musicians can help to ensure that the Select Committee understands the role that festivals play within the music industry, and how musicians benefit from festival performances – financially and creatively.

Musicians at any level can submit evidence, as it’s important for the Select Committee to see the importance of the festival sector to musicians at all stages of their career.

Your submission will be seen by the Select Committee alongside submissions from the MU and other leading industry organisations. You do not need to answer all of the questions.

1 – What is the economic and cultural contribution of the UK’s festival industry?

You can mention some headline statistics if you want to talk about the festival industry as a whole:

  • According to the UK Music 2020 Music By Numbers report, festival attendance in 2019 increased to 5.2 million, an increase of 6% from 2018.
  • Between 2014 and 2017 members of the Association of Independent festivals (AIF) contributed £1billion to the UK economy.

You can also talk about how you feel festivals are beneficial to the UK’s wider music industry and communities, for example:

  • They help emerging artists to launch their career by accessing new audiences.
  • Niche festivals allow artists working in particular genres to access audiences that are likely to be interested in their music, and also to network with fellow musicians who may provide future work opportunities and collaborations.
  • Playing to an audience that isn’t made up of an artist’s existing fanbase can be really useful in terms of development and stagecraft.
  • Professional and high-profile musicians can use festival performances to enhance their touring opportunities and to help make activities more lucrative.
  • Session musicians are often hired by featured artists who want to create a bigger show when performing at festivals, and therefore a lot of additional work opportunities are created through these events.
  • Production members and crew are also a part of an artist’s entourage at festivals, and these shows help to sustain careers all year round.

Use your own words and include as many stories as possible. Think about the experiences you’ve had at festivals, and how they’ve helped your career or your progression as an artist. Maybe you’ve played the same festival at different stages of your career, or perhaps you’ve noticed a really great increase in merch sales or streaming following a particular festival performance.

2 – What is the impact of cancellations on local economies and those who derive income from festivals during 2020?

Have you lost festival bookings in 2020 due to the lockdown?

  • Can you explain how much money you have lost through performance fees, potential merchandise sales and also performance royalties & media fees?
  • Do you normally grow your fanbase through festivals? Can you give an idea how many new fans you might attract at festivals – perhaps indicate through social media followers, merchandise sales, streaming figures, subsequent ticket sales etc.
  • Were you due to be filmed at any festivals? Have you therefore lost out on broadcast opportunities and media exposure?
  • Do you feel that lost opportunities in 2020 will impact your level of work in 2021 and beyond?
  • Is a large part of your work usually undertaken at festivals? Do you feel that you may have been impacted more than the average performing musician?
  • Have you had to cancel any other artists or crew members who would normally work with you at festivals? How does this impact them, and will it make it harder for you to put a tour together in the future?

Would you normally spend money in local areas when performing at festivals?

  • Can you outline what you might spend on accommodation, or what a promoter/organiser might spend on your behalf?
  • Would you normally buy food and drinks, either from local shops outside of the festival or on-site where local businesses often provide refreshments?

Again, include information about your own experiences and quote figures – monetary or in terms of audience or listeners etc – where you can. If you have suffered a loss due to festival cancellations, demonstrate it as strongly as you can.

3 – What are the risks to festivals taking place in 2021 and beyond and how can these be mitigated?

  • You might want to talk about your planning cycle and how far in advance you need to book festival appearances or plan tours around the festival circuit.
  • Urge the government to give a clear indication of when a move to Stage 5 might be, to allow as much lead time as possible for festival organisers to plan.
  • It’s important for festival organisers to have a government backed insurance scheme to protect them against any further cancellations due to pandemics.

4 – What measures are needed for audiences to attend festivals without social distancing, and how realistic are they?

  • Audiences need to be confident that they can attend a festival safely.
  • State how important to your future audience engagement is.
  • Support for testing, which is achievable through rapid testing and track and trace.

5 – What has been the impact of the temporary VAT cut and Cultural Recovery Fund on festivals and their supply chains, and what else can the Government do to secure their future?

  • The main festival organisations: Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) and Association of Festival Organisers (AFO), as well as UK Music and LIVE will be providing detailed evidence to answer this question.

6 – How has the structure of the UK festivals market evolved over recent years, and what has this meant for consumers, artists, and the wider industry? What further changes might be anticipated?

  • If you have noticed any changes, for example an increase in audiences, or the amount of festivals that you can perform at.
  • Has the diversity of the festival circuit changed? Are there more niche or themed festivals?

7 – How can festivals be supported to reduce their environment impact and tackle the dangers of illegal drug use?

  • There are a number of initiatives that have been set up by the AIF around this which you can see on their website.
  • If you have made your own individual efforts or changes around sustainability you could add these here.

Submitting your evidence

The deadline for submissions is Wednesday 9 December.

Submit your evidence on the UK Parliament’s website.

Thank you for taking the time to contribute to this important consultation.

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