Peter was interviewed on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning, by Mishal Husain, talking about the plight of festivals in the UK following the four-week delay in the lifting of restrictions.
In the interview Peter was asked how WOMAD was dealing with the current uncertainty;
The problem for us is that we don’t have enough time after these four-weeks to do a set-up and there are a lot of cost incurred. In some-ways I am speaking for a lot of the festival industry, particularly the independents, because we’re not asking for handouts we’d be quite happy if the Government were willing to underwrite us, for them to make money out of that. What we need though is the security because most of us can’t take the risk of losing everything once we are committed to the set-up
Perhaps it hasn’t been presented to them but if the Government can actually make money out by acting as our insurance brokers then I think they solve the problem. They are not just ploughing money in that isn’t going to come back. That’s not what we’re asking for, we are just asking for some security.
Peter also talked about the role that festivals play in people’s lives;
One in four adults goes to festivals. I was amazed to discover that over 50% of people would rather go to a festival than a European holiday. They are important in people’s lives. They are big community events, as well as entertainment, so if we are trying to restore cultural life and normality then we do need a bit of help here. There are amazing people who create and support and construct and run these festivals and they have had very little help so far. We’ve tried to do some things for our own staff but generally in the festival world they are suffering a lot of these crews. It’s a huge industry now and we would like to get some confidence and security from some sort of insurance underwriting scheme.
Asked whether he thought festivals can be safe this summer, he said;
We have to rely on the advice of people who know much more and understand much better what the statistics mean and what story they are telling but if we’re doing these test events and the Euros or Ascot then let’s give the festival sector a chance too. Maybe it’s a different sector of the population but they deserve a go at this as well.
And on how he felt about watching other events happening at the moment;
It’s very difficult and obviously we want to be included. The vaccine programme has been amazing and is seeming to have an impact, and I’m going to a couple of things where I’ve had to do my lateral flow test so there are ways that a clearly proving effective at the moment, so if we can just lock those in and get some support for independent festivals particularly but for all the festival sector then I think we can have a great summer
And whether WOMAD would be cancelled without the Government being prepared to underwrite the insurance of festivals;
I think we have to, we’ve been faced by bankruptcy on two occasion previously and if we’re trying to secure the future of the festival which is very important to us and our staff then we can’t risk sinking it this year.
Every day there are costs incurred for all of us so the sooner [we know about Government support] the better, otherwise I think we’ll have to cancel.