Dancing under the warm colours of sunset, energetically jumping around in a mosh pit, singing along to some of your favourite bands and enjoying a cold pint in a field with friends are all a summer-time rite of passage for festival lovers in east and south-east London.
However, this year because of Covid, the many festivals that usually run are in real trouble.
At Eastlondonlines, we are launching the Save Our Festivals campaign, to shine a light on this and back their fight to get support.
The insecurity over Covid regulations and the possibility of being forced to cancel last minute has troubled many festival organisers with smaller planners and events hit the hardest.
Of the many festivals that usually take place every summer across Lewisham, Tower Hamlets, Croydon and Hackney, many are on hold, with others postponed or hanging in the balance, with unease that insurers will cover last-minute cancellations spooking organisers.
As Josh Robinson, director of the drum and bass festival Hospitality Weekend in the Woods, set to take place in Beckenham Park, told NME: “On one side, consumer confidence has absolutely sky-rocketed and everyone’s bought tickets in droves, but on the other side of the coin is that the money sits in a bank account and if you spend it on the shows then you potentially risk bankruptcy if the festival is postponed or cancelled.”
“Every single promoter is now risking double. We’re in a double or quits scenario. Government-backed insurance is the only way to go.”
After over a year of cancelled live events and seeing no more than six faces at a time attending a festival may seem like a fever dream.
It is for this reason our campaign will stress the importance of live music bringing communities together and back calls for a covid cancellation insurance from the Government.
At an average, £6m cost to stage an independent festival with 40 per cent of payments, including non-refundable deposits due a month in advance, the decision to cancel festivals for 2021 is on the rise.
The CEO of the Association for Independent Festivals, Paul Reed said: “As organisers get closer to having to commit to those costs, I think sadly you are going to see more and more understandably take the decision to not take that level of risk. If for whatever reason the event can’t go ahead for a Covid-related issue, for an independent business it would bankrupt them.”
Hospitality Weekend In The Woods, a major Drum and Bass event is set to take place in Beckenham Place park in mid-September.
The south London event hosted by Hospitality records has an esteemed drum and bass lineup from Netsky, Metrik, Kings of the Rollers and Noisia. Tickets for the festival sold out rapidly.
Lewisham’s Telegraph Hill Festival which celebrates local talent has been forced to cancel.
In a statement, organisers said: “We have explored many options to look at how the festival could proceed in some form this year but continuing uncertainty around restrictions coupled with a lack of capacity within our core team means we are unable to commit to delivering a festival this year.”
In Tower Hamlets the picture is looking brighter.
Victoria Park, the borough’s largest park and one of London’s most popular green spaces, is set to host All Points East.
The organisers moved the event from its usual shot in May to the August bank holiday weekend, giving it a greater chance of going ahead.
Up and coming alternative artists across the three days of music include Arlo Parks, London Grammar, Jorja Smith, Loyle Carner and Mura Masa.
Organisers thanked ticket holders for their patience in a Covid update.
They said in a statement: “Our team has been working extremely hard to put together our 2020 edition of All Points East. We are passionate about creating incredible and unforgettable experiences for fans, artists and workers, however, these are challenging and unprecedented times with the situation changing daily. Over the past week, we have been seeking further clarification on the government statements surrounding the emergency services and major UK events. As soon as we have the full information, we will pass that onto you.”
Wireless Festival, the UK’s biggest showcase for hip hop and grime music was pushed back two months to mid-September. Organisers said: “Early July was too much of a worry for us in the government’s timing out of lockdown.”
Headliners include Future, Skepta, Migos, AJ Tracey.
The new dates mean the festival has had to move out of its home in Finsbury Park to the new venue of Crystal Palace park across four London boroughs including Croydon.
Queens Yard summer party is taking place at sixteen venues across the Hackney Wick neighbourhood on Saturday, August 7th across the day and night.
Crews and partners include Ctrl Sound, Idle Hands, Raw Silk and Reasons to be Cheerful.
The vibrant Hackney Wick festival runs along the canal with plenty of waterfront bars and street art. It hosts a creative community with perfect venues for the festival such as the converted warehouse Colour Factory, HWK a coffee shop by day and party spot at dusk, and Studio 92/94.
In 2019 the festival celebrated electronic music, local DJs, creatives and independent ethical businesses.
The smaller startup Visions Festival is also set for August 2021 in London Fields. It is hosted by the music and entertainment magazine Rock Feedback and the live music company Bird on the Wire.
As the roadmap for coming out lockdown progresses our five-week campaign will shine a light on the issues faced by festivals.
East London Lines will speak to ticketholders, performers and organisers to hear the true voices of Save our Festivals.