Supply chain crisis, labor shortages and Brexit: AIF warns of ‘perfect storm’

Burak Cingi/RedfernsEnd Of The Road Festival at Larmer Tree Gardens in Salisbury, England is one of AIF’s current 93 members.This photo shows the garden scene during day two, September 3, 2021.

Paul Reed, CEO of the British Association of Independent Festivals (AIF), warned that a crisis in the live entertainment supply chain, labor shortages and the effects of Brexit could create a ” perfect storm” as we approach the 2022 festival season.

Reed made the remarks in his keynote address which kicked off the 2022 AIF Festival Congress in Bristol, England today (February 15).

He warned that suppliers simply did not have the cash reserves to invest more funds in inventory, in a year when there will be almost unprecedented demand and event activity in both the private and public sectors.

The AIF currently represents 93 events in the UK. According to the association’s own data, festivals face cost increases of 20-30% across operations and infrastructure. This is the result of actual increases in labor, personnel, material and transportation costs passed on by suppliers.

Gruff Rhys performs at SWN Festival 2019 on October 18, 2019 in Cardiff, Wales.Mike Lewis Photography/RedfernsGruff Rhys performs at SWN Festival 2019 on October 18, 2019 in Cardiff, Wales.SWN is another AIF member festival.

According to a statement sent by the AIF, these cost increases are “well beyond inflation in the UK, which hit a three-decade high of 5.4% in December 2021 and is expected to exceed 7% in spring”.

More than half (53% according to AIF data) of all festivals in the UK with over 5,000 seats did not take place in 2021. Given that many of them are honoring purchased tickets in 2019 and carried over to 2022, developers cannot simply pass on all cost increases to the customer.

The association also finds that the UK government’s so-called live events reinsurance program is not suitable to cover the live events market due to its “limited scope and excessive cost”.

The program does not provide insurance against performers contracting the coronavirus or against the reintroduction of social distancing measures and rendering an event economically unviable. It only covers local and national lockdowns.

Paul Red.Paul Red.CEO of the Association of Independent Festivals.

Reed, in his opening address, also called on the government to maintain the reduced ticket VAT rate (5% instead of the usual rate of 12.5%) on tickets beyond the end of March, when at which the temporary rate is currently about to expire.

He also called for a government-backed loan scheme for suppliers to alleviate some of the above pressures and encourage investment in the festival’s supply chain.

Addressing the more than 300 delegates from across the independent festival industry at today’s Festival Congress, Reed said: “The UK festival industry is a powerhouse, contributing £1.76 billion [$2.38 billion] in GVA to the UK economy and supporting 85,000 jobs. The cultural and welfare benefits of festivals cannot be measured. We know they run deep, and the absence of festivals has been keenly felt by artists, the wider supply chain and of course the public.

“We are facing a perfect storm in many ways. I have spoken with many of you over the past few weeks about supply chains, the loss of skilled labor, the increase in 20-30% of costs across the board and a government-backed insurance plan.It’s just not fit for purpose despite our best efforts.

“We may be emerging from the shadow of the pandemic in the UK, but this year will not be a case of ‘back to business as usual’ without critical support for festival organisers. That’s why we’re calling on the government to help us recover and maintain the current reduced rate of 12.5% ​​on notes beyond the end of March, as well as to consider some form of lending program backed by government for suppliers to alleviate some of these pressures. and encourage investments in the festival’s supply chain.

“We also urge the government to reconsider removing tax relief for certain biofuels, which further increases costs and is completely counterproductive to promoting better environmental practices in the sector.

“AIF has fought to represent the needs of independent festival operators during the pandemic and ensured your voices are heard in the halls of power. We will continue to do so during what is still a very difficult time.”

AIF President, Jim Mawdsley.AIF President, Jim Mawdsley.He will step down from the role he took on in 2014 effective May 2022.

In other AIF news, Jim Mawdsley will step down as president of the association effective May 2022, after seven years in the role. The organization will announce the vacated position next week in search of a successor.

Mawdsley joined the AIF as Chairman in 2014. He is also Senior Advisor for Events, Culture, Arts and Heritage to Newcastle City Council. Previous roles include a 20-year stint at creative music and digital development agency Generator, with 12 years as CEO.

Mawdsley has also curated music events ranging from 50 bar gigs to 30,000 festivals, including 12 years as co-promoter of world-renowned dance brand Shindig and 13 years as director of Festival Evolution.

Jim Mawdsley commented: “I feel truly privileged to have been President of the AIF for the past seven years. We have accomplished a lot for such a small organization.

“When I took over as president, it was an important body for independent festivals, but we sometimes felt like a bunch of pirates that no one wanted to let land. Following a restructuring and a departure from [the Association of Independent Music] AIM, we claimed our own independence and oversaw some sometimes deadly campaigns, including a lower PRS rate and the recognition that cultural stimulus funds were needed for festivals as well as established cultural powerhouses.

“As a result, we have grown in number and stature and I leave the AIF as a hugely important body that is respected and consulted by the media, Her Majesty’s Government and, most importantly, our peers in the music industry. .

“I will certainly miss the members and all the people who gave of their valuable time to support us as board members.

“With Paul Reed at the helm, the AIF is in great shape. Now is the time for the next chapter and for a new person to help steer the ship. I can only say to my successor that one thing is sure: despite the inevitable choppy waters, they’re going to have fun.

The AIF Board of Directors currently includes: Jim Mawdsley (Chair, AIF), Nick Morgan (The Fair and Vice-Chair, AIF), Lauren Down (End Of The Road), Katherine Goodenough (Greenbelt), Kevin Moore (Vision Nine), Gill Tee (Black Deer), Zac Fox (Kilimanjaro Live), Kate Osler (AEI Group), Jon Walsh (Shambala), Alex Trenchard (Standon Calling), Becky Ayres (Liverpool Sound City), Chris Rutherford ( Boomtown Fair).

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