High costs leaving festivals 'struggling to survive'

Rising costs are leaving music festivals across the UK and Republic of Ireland struggling to survive, organisers have said.

At least 42 festivals in the UK have announced a postponement, cancellation or complete closure in 2024, according to the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF).

In the Republic of Ireland there has been a number of high-profile cancellations in recent months, including major events like Body and Soul in County Westmeath and Wild Roots 2024 in County Sligo.

John Rostron from the AIF said many organisers and festival goers are feeling the results of a "financial squeeze" and this has ultimately resulted in many festivals unable to go ahead.

Why are festival costs increasing?

Mr Rostron said following the Covid-19 pandemic, many organisers have "no liquidity" and rising costs across the board are impacting their ability to stage events that are financially viable.

"Everyone has good days and bad weeks, we get that, but what we are finding is the situation is getting worse," he said.

"Supply chain costs, ticketing and so many other factors mean events like these are becoming increasingly difficult to put on."

Ross Parkhill
Director of the Stendhal Festival, Ross Parkhill says costs are constantly rising [BBC]

Director of the Stendhal Festival in County Londonderry, Ross Parkhill, said staging a festival is extremely difficult and each year there is uncertainty over whether they can afford it.

"Everything has gone up in recent years across the board, everything from insurance costs, artist fees to affording fuel for generators," he told BBC Radio Foyle's North West Today programme.

Mr Parkhill said so many independent festivals are still struggling to survive after the pandemic.

"Our programme budget for artists is probably about 25% of our overall budget - that is substantial," he added.

"Any fees over a few thousand pounds you are paying a 50% deposit, and quite often for the higher fees you are then paying 100% before the gig, which is significant pressure.

"In our world, the funding climate isn't great and then you're remaining quite fluid in a lot of decisions depending on how confident you are with your ticket sales."

Mr Parkhill said they are fortunate to be in a position financially to stage the festival again this year and are looking forward to welcoming music lovers to Ballymully Cottage Farm near Limavady.

What do bands think?

The band Lavengro, who hail from Londonderry, were previously confirmed for the Wild Roots 2014 line-up next weekend, only to then learn recently that it would no longer be going ahead.

Wild Roots organisers have said the cancellation was due to "circumstances out of their control".

The band's lead guitarist David Healy told BBC News NI about the financial impact festival cancellations has on them as a band.

Mr Healy said that when a band gets booked for a festival, they often have to organise their own transport and accommodation which involves putting down deposits, some of which they can never get back.

"We were booked for a lot of festivals and had a busy summer lined up, but then noticed a few gigs being pulled on us through cancellations," he said.

"It's not just you who loses out financially by simply not playing the festival, there are number of other things that impacts the band financially and logistically.

"When you cancel accommodation and transport you put down deposits up front and sometimes you can't get that back."