Coronavirus: Summer without festivals results in millions in losses

Britain Virus Outbreak Glastonbury
Britain Virus Outbreak Glastonbury Copyright Grant Pollard/Invision
By Ricardo Borges de Carvalho
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Festival organisers admit they didn't foresee a pandemic scenario but for next year's editions, they'll have backup plans


This summer, you won't have any big open-air concerts in Europe, bulls running through the streets of Spain, or beer festivals in Germany.

The new coronavirus has forced the postponement of most major outdoor shows.

It'll be an economic loss counted by hundreds of millions. One example is the Fringe Festival, in Edinburgh, Scotland.

The Fringe Festival Chief Executive, Shona McCarthy, reveals that the economic impact for the city is around "200 million pounds (€228.5 million) every year" and that this year's postponement left "about 1.5 million pounds (€1.7 million) deficit in our budget because we wanted to ensure that we could refund all of the artists and all of the companies who had registered by 100%."

The Boom festival, in the Portuguese interior small town of Idanha-a-Nova, is also impacted.

Some 40,000 participants from 170 countries already had bought tickets for this year's edition, but border closures postponed everything to 2021 and robbed the region of an important source of income. Artur Mendes, from the Boom Festival, admits they'll have losses of "hundreds of thousand euros" but the impact will be much wider.

As Mendes explains, in 2018, the festival's last edition, "the event had an economic impact of €56 million in Portugal, around €2.5 million in the Idanha-a-Nova region and around €1.4 million in the Castelo Branco district."

The festival, which has no sponsors and depends exclusively on ticket sales and the rental of space, is more exposed to the economic shock of a postponement.

And although the music is very different, the difficulties are shared with France's Vienne Jazz Festival. With only 17% of public funding, the postponement of this year's edition required them to lay off almost all of their workers.

The Artistic Director, Benjamin Tanguy, admits that the "budgetary balance of the public organisation is made with the festival, so, if there's an edition that doesn't happen, there is, of course, a lot of concern about the festival economic balance".

The COVID-19 pandemic caught everyone by surprise, but all the festival organisers talk of a lesson learned. Next year's events preparations have already taken into account a pandemic scenario.

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