Virtually everyone I know who works in music and events and the arts in general is facing losing their business.
With Glastonbury's inevitable cancellation and the stopping of filming for Eastenders and Peaky Blinders this morning, the very fabric of our entertainment institutions is changing as we watch with increasing incredulity about how the world as we knew it is being turned upside down, almost minute by minute. Hay Festival will surely be the next high profile, but at the time of writing, no announcement has yet been made, despite pressure and questions from ticket holders on social media.
Glastonbury Festival confirmed via Twitter this morning that the event, which was set to take place from 24-28 June at its usual home of Worthy Farm in Somerset, was off “following the new government measures announced this week – and in times of such unprecedented uncertainty – this is now our only viable option”. Ticket holders are being offered the option of carrying tickets over to next year, though who would be brave enough to predict what the general climate around larger events, indeed events in general, will be in a year's time
Metro reporter Mark Halstead, partner at financial risk and business intelligence firm Red Flag Alert ‘Cancelling Glastonbury could mean lost revenue of at least £100 million,’ According to Halstead, this takes into account money generated from tickets, food and drink, as well as spend in the local area of Worthy Farm, Somerset. Halstead explained: ‘Losses associated with a cancellation because of coronavirus would rise further and impact retailers nationwide through loss of sales of festival essentials like tents and picnic equipment. ‘The big challenge for festival organisers and artists is containing losses this year. There’s only so many available venues and dates in the calendar, meaning it’ll become massively competitive to rearrange events to take place later this year.’
Events are unfolding so fast now that whole areas of our lives can change within minutes or hours. Those who depended on larger events for work, whether artists, staff, contractors, caterers or any of the huge number of people involved in the support infrastructure will feel this deeply.
It's not difficult to see that Universal Basic Income is a must now that almost everyone will need support, whether personally or for small businesses. There has never been a more appropriate and urgent requirement for it. Meanwhile, the government talk about extending business loans - as if anyone is going to seriously be reassured by that?
We're moving into phase that is telling us that the concepts around larger festivals needs serious consideration. The future is likely to be about ecologically low impact events that aren't about the profit. We need to slow down, take stock and radically review how and why we come together and question whether it is for the greater good, a shift from consumer to restorer/stewardship. We all have a responsibility to look after the land we do events on. Festivals raise the vibration of the planet and they are vital to our wellbeing. It's hard to bear coming together in music, word, art, film or discussion. My article around building a new sustainable festival model that was written (ironically in Milan) at the end of last year.
Campfire is looking at how we can manage online gatherings. We are also exploring some crystal ball gazing as to what the blueprint might look like for future gatherings such as Glastonbury in an age when we might all be on universal income this time next year.
Business in its widest sense surely has to change. So many businesses have been about service to self. Events have to move from a focus on money making as a primary driver to a focus on the greatest possible good, 'family' (in its widest sense) and the community.