Sheffield’s Tramlines festival will go ahead as part of the UK government’s Events Research Programme (ERP), as uncertainty begins to ease around the viability of large-scale events for the rest of the summer.
Taking place on 23-25 July at a full capacity of 40,000 사람들, Tramlines will be Europe’s largest festival since the pandemic began, hosting headliners the Streets, Royal Blood and Richard Ashcroft in Hillsborough Park.
Tramlines, which is already sold out, joins another festival cleared to go ahead on that weekend, Latitude, announced as part of the ERP last week.
Organisers of Standon Calling festival, not part of the ERP but also scheduled for the same dates, have also said it will be going ahead. They cited confidence after Sajid Javid, newly installed as health secretary, announced yesterday that easing of lockdown measures scheduled for 19 July would be “irreversible … the restrictions on our freedoms, they must come to an end”. An end to restrictions would allow large-scale events to go ahead as normal.
Standon Calling organisers also pointed to data published by the government last week from its previous ERP events, that found only 28 cases of Covid among thousands of people there. Some experts have been cautious about the findings, which are based on lateral flow tests rather than more reliable PCR tests.
Womad, the global music festival that had also been scheduled to begin on 22 칠월, was cancelled this week after organisers were unable to assure it going ahead.
Festivals have not been able to get insurance against Covid-related enforced cancellations, and risk financial ruin if they go ahead without it. “We feel that our audience, artists, staff and contractors, who have been amazingly supportive throughout all this, will understand the need for us to act to guarantee our survival,” Womad’s Peter Gabriel said.
The festival sector has long been calling on the UK government to underwrite festivals to let them continue as the pandemic eases, and Womad organisers also complained of a lack of “clarity on how what is being learned from the events research programme might affect the guidance for festivals and how they are required to operate”.
Despite Javid’s remarks, nervousness in the cultural sector remains high following previous postponements to easing measures, including in the nightclub industry which has been closed since the start of the pandemic.
Michael Kill, chief executive of the Night Time Industries Association, said he was “buoyed” by Javid’s assertion, but added: “He must make good on this now so that 19 July really is the terminus date – when we can open fully and experience culture again. During this extended period of closure businesses and workers need to be supported through the extension of current government financial reliefs.”