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Deer Shed Festival confirms streamlined event in place of this year’s edition

By | Published on Wednesday 19 May 2021

Deer Shed Base Camp 2021

Organisers of the Yorkshire-based Deer Shed Festival yesterday put tickets on sale for a streamlined socially-distanced event they will stage in place of their usual edition this year, called Base Camp Plus.

Deer Shed was one of a number of independent festivals forced to cancel its 2021 edition last month, even though the planned lifting of COVID rules in England next month means that it could probably have gone ahead. However, with the ongoing risk of COVID regulations being extended and the lack of cancellation insurance on the commercial market, organisers Oliver Jones and Kate Webster said they simply couldn’t afford to take the risk of ploughing on with plans for a full 2021 show.

It had been hoped, of course, that the UK government might follow the lead of a number of other countries and offer state-backed insurance. But, so far, no such scheme has been launched.

Jones explained last month: “Many things remain uncertain for festivals this summer, but the lack of COVID cancellation insurance is the one hurdle we have been unable to clear. Earlier in the year, we were hopeful a government-backed COVID insurance scheme would be in place, but we now have no reason to believe it will be despite frantic industry lobbying”.

“Deer Shed is still a 100% independent family owned and run festival”, he added, “and the risks of running without insurance leave Kate and myself financially exposed well beyond our comfort zone”.

Despite cancelling the full festival, late last week Jones announced that an alternative smaller event would now take place on what would have been Deer Shed weekend, 30 Jul to 1 Aug.

Called Base Camp Plus, that event will be, Jones said, “a safe camping weekend in Baldersby Park, with plenty of space, loads of camping options including your own loo, park next to your pitch, book next to your mates, bring the dog… Plus live music and comedy performances (at last!), food, drink, partying, campfires, workshops, theatre, well-being, swingballs and anything else we dream up”.

Jones and Webster actually staged a camping event for their festival’s community last year, after Deer Shed 2020 was cancelled, fully complying with the slightly relaxed COVID rules that were in force last summer, and with entertainment broadcast over the site via a pop-up radio station. This year’s camping event will build on that with live entertainment included this time. Having announced those plans last week, tickets for Base Camp Plus went on sale yesterday.

The UK live industry continues to put pressure on the government to offer state-backed insurance to larger scale events, to ensure promoters can continue working on shows and festivals for the months immediately after the lifting of COVID restrictions.

Last week Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden told Parliament that such a scheme might be launched if cancellation insurance is still not available commercially once most of those COVID restrictions have been removed, which it’s currently hoped will happen on 21 Jun in England.

But that means another month of uncertainty for promoters, of course. Although some reckon there could be a bit more clarity on what that government scheme might look like even before the COVID regulations fully lift. We will see.