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Live Nation cancels Isle Of Wight and Download festivals

By | Published on Friday 27 March 2020

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Live Nation has announced the cancellation of two more UK festivals – due to take place on the same weekend in early June – the Isle Of Wight Festival and Download.

The major live firm has two other festivals due to take place over the same weekend – Lovebox in London and Parklife in Manchester – though no announcement of any cancellation of these has yet been made. Seemingly the larger scale of Isle Of Wight and Download have led to these events being pulled with two and a half months still to go.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has, of course, led to the cancellation of countless live events around the world.

In the UK, confirmation that the Glastonbury Festival would not go ahead this year was something of a watershed moment. Organisers of that event said that the long lead time in preparing the festival site made it impossible to proceed with their 50th anniversary edition.

Earlier this week, another Live Nation-owned event, The Great Escape showcase festival and conference in Brighton in May, was also cancelled.

A statement from the Isle Of Wight Festival – which was set to be headlined by Lewis Capaldi, Lionel Richie and the Black Eyed Peas – says: “This decision [to cancel] hasn’t been taken lightly and we have tried our hardest to make it work, but it was unavoidable given the current status. The whole team was excited to welcome everyone to the island for another fantastic festival and we extend our sincere apologies to everyone who was looking forward to it as much as we were”.

“The safety of our audience, artists, crew and the Isle of Wight community is paramount, and we appreciate your patience whilst we’ve been working through this unprecedented situation”, it went on. “We’ll be back stronger than ever in 2021 and we hope to see you all again next year”.

Similarly, Download – which had Kiss, System Of A Down and Iron Maiden booked as headliners – said: “We’ve been closely monitoring this unprecedented situation and it’s become clear that it just isn’t possible for the 2020 festival to go ahead. This decision hasn’t been taken lightly and we’re beyond disappointed. We extend our heartfelt apologies to all of you – we really did try to make this work”.

It also vowed to be back, saying: “Please rest assured we will be back next year. Now, more than ever, we need the Download spirit to thrive and offer support to those that need it most. We’ll do our best to put together an amazing line up for you in 2021 and can’t wait to see you all then”.

A week ago members of European festival trade body Yourope – including Primavera, Roskilde, Rock In Seine, Exit, Open’er and Melt – put out a joint statement saying that they are collectively monitoring the progress of the pandemic, but that they “all expect to carry through our festivals this summer”.

“As festival organisers we take the current situation very seriously”, they said. “We are monitoring the situation closely, and we are all, as always, cooperating closely with the authorities and the emergency services to ensure the best and safest environment for the festival community. We share experiences and knowledge with each other. We stand united”.

They continued: “Viewed in the light of these facts and with the knowledge that we have, we shall continue monitoring the current global health situation throughout the following weeks, and together we will communicate about any further decisions in this matter”.

“Nevertheless, we all expect to carry through our festivals this summer”, they then stated. “We will stand united to make it a safe and sound experience for our participants and the outside world. It’s about taking responsibility for the events – and it’s about taking responsibility for the industry we’re part of”.

“It’s an industry in which we, as major festivals, are the final part of a food chain where the smaller players – the artists, the venues, sound and light production and many more – are already suffering from the serious situation we are in”, they went on. “They suffer so much that they may not be able to recover if they are not given the opportunity to be a part of festivals like ours”.

“By carrying through our festivals this summer, we can be a crucial part of the survival of this industry”, they concluded. “We owe it to the community, the music, the art and the culture to assume responsibility together”.

Of course it remains to be seen how long measures to restrict and delay the spread of COVID-19 need to be kept in place. In the UK, Prime Minister ‘Boris’ Johnson said earlier this month that he was confident that the UK could “turn the tide” in the pandemic in twelve weeks. Although it remains unclear what he means by that and several experts in the scientific community have indicated measures may need to be in place for longer.