The organiser of Boomtown has announced its cancellation.

The 66,000 capacity event, which was sold out in February, was due to return to the Matterley Estate, near Winchester over August 11-15, 2021. However, owing to the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic and critically the lack of a Government-backed COVID specific insurance scheme to provide a vital safety net to events this summer, the organiser has come to the difficult decision to no longer go ahead in 2021.

In a statement from the organisers, Boomtown explains: After almost half a year of collective campaigning to the Government, sadly COVID specific cancellation insurance for events still does not exist at this point in time. This means anyone putting on an event this year, will be doing so without the safety net of insurance to cover them should COVID prevent them from going ahead in any capacity. For an independent event as large and complex as Boomtown, this is a huge gamble of up to an eight figure sum and the financial risk is simply too high.”

In a statement, the Boomtown organising team said that time had run out for the team to be able to deliver high safety and production standards.

The statement read: “We are so sorry to bring another round of heartbreaking news to you all and sadly it feels a bit like déjà vu, as almost exactly a year ago we had to break some identical bad news… Unfortunately, we will no longer be holding Boomtown Chapter One: The Gathering this year and it will now take place from August 10-14, 2022.

“We have been doing everything within our power to try to find a solution to the mind-boggling conundrum of putting on a safe and well-run event to the sheer scale, complexity and intricate nature of Boomtown this summer. However, the time has simply run out for us to be able to proceed in a way that would live up to our high safety and production standards for the large scale event we had planned.

“With less than four months to go until the event, and after almost half a year of collective campaigning to the Government, sadly COVID specific cancellation insurance for events simply does not exist at this point in time. This means anyone putting on an event this year, will be doing so without the safety net of insurance to cover them should COVID prevent them from going ahead in any capacity. For an independent event as large and complex as Boomtown, this means a huge gamble into an 8-figure sum to lose if we were to venture much further forward, and then not be able to go ahead due to COVID.

“Although we have recently been awarded a very generous grant from the Arts Council England, which we are incredibly grateful for and throws us a vital and necessary lifeline, the reality is it represents only a fraction of the costs (under 10 per cent) involved in creating an event to the sheer scale and ambition of Boomtown, and only goes so far to plugging the deficit left from not being able to run our event, now for two years in a row, and most pressingly does not solve the problem of lack of insurance.

“We had planned Chapter One: The Gathering with our values front and centre and the safety and comfort at the top of the agenda for all in attendance, those living in the local area, as well as those working on the event. However, it does not feel that at this critical point in time, we have enough of an understanding of what the conditions will be in order for us to safely operate, or the time left to be able to implement it all to put on the show we know we were all waiting for this summer.

“All tickets for 2021 will automatically roll over to the 2022 event, and refunds will be available to those who wish.  We are so grateful to everyone who has kept their ticket with us over the past year, you really did save the festival, and will continue to do so if you are able to roll them over for another year.

“We are truly devastated to not be able to all come together to celebrate in the way we’d all like to this summer, and we know how hard this will be for the thousands of you who have supported us and kept the faith that we could collectively reunite in the beautiful fields this year. The resale for all refunded 2021 tickets will go ahead as planned on June 1, so if you weren’t able to get a ticket this year before we sold out, then this might be the golden opportunity to get your hands on a ticket to come and join us when we get to reset the clock to Chapter One and are all finally able to dance together once more in August 2022.”

Paul Reed, CEO of the Association of Independent Festivals, said of the cancellation:  “The cancellation of Boomtown Fair is devastating but not surprising, and further festival cancellations will follow. AIF has been warning and providing evidence to the Government for over six months on the urgent need for intervention on insurance. It is an enormous risk for any independent festival to commit to upfront, non-refundable costs and very difficult to plan with confidence in the absence of insurance. The average cost of staging an independent festival is over £6 million.

“A recent AIF member survey revealed that 92.5 per cent of respondents do not plan on staging their events without some form of Government-backed insurance or indemnity scheme, with the measure being described as vital not optional. Considering the lengthy planning cycle of festivals, it is difficult to think anything other than we are being timed out for the summer.

“Governments across the rest of Europe have already acted to support festivals, sharing the risk with organisers so that they may reopen safely. If this Government doesn’t intervene in some way on insurance and back its own roadmap, I’m afraid that, despite the rhetoric, it won’t be a great British summer for events – it will be an extremely selective one despite the clear demand and huge amount of customer confidence that the roadmap has injected.”

Image: Boomtown

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