Last week the events industry was hit with yet more bad news as the organisers of Glastonbury confirmed they had no choice but to cancel the Worthy Farm-based festival for a second consecutive year.
As has been widely reported, the live music and events industry has been hit particularly hard by the necessary restrictions imposed in light of the global pandemic, and perhaps it was too optimistic to think that the event could go ahead this year. But at the same time, we all need a sense of optimism, something to look forward to, that we will get through this… but perhaps we have to look a little further ahead for the light at the end of the tunnel.
While Glastonbury has cancelled, it’s not all doom and gloom for the live events industry, and there are some organisers still hoping to proceed with their 2021 schedule with proper precautions in place. The cancellation of such a big name will surely unsettle many, but the scale gives us some indication as to why this decision had to be made, when many smaller events are planning to go ahead.
Glastonbury is a tightly-packed gathering of almost 150,000 festival goers. That’s the equivalent population of the City of Oxford, gathering in an area of just 900 acres – less than 8% of the size of Oxford. So many of the UK’s smaller festivals – El Dorado has a maximum capacity of just 9,000, as does London’s GALA Festival – currently plan to take place. Even WOMAD is currently slated to be held, with its daily limit of 40,000 guests. So while it’s clear that 2020 was a dearth for live music, 2021 is showing some signs of an early recovery, and with any luck, 2022 will enjoy a live events calendar much closer to normal.
What’s also clear, is that as well as smaller events having a better chance of being able to go ahead, the logistical task of instigating social distancing at smaller venues is much more feasible, and the use of temporary event structures that can provide flexible cover to festival goers from the oh-so-reliable British weather, while allowing good air circulation can also help to minimise the risks of attending a much-needed musical escape.