Cornbury Festival boss says 'there won't be any big music events this summer'
THE organiser of one of Oxfordshire’s biggest festivals has told music lovers to accept there will be no large music events this summer, but urged them to support postponed events next year. Cornbury Festival director Hugh Phillimore said the music industry had been decimated by the coronavirus lockdown, with musicians, production crew, event organisers, caterers and other suppliers facing an uncertain future. But he said the industry and fans had to wake up to the fact that there would be no large public events – possibly until September or maybe longer.
Read also: David Beckham makes surprise visit to fan’s house in Abingdon Cornbury, held at Great Tew near Chipping Norton, would have been celebrating its 17th instalment. In the past it has played host to Paul Simon, Tom Jones, Bryan Adams, Amy Winehouse and The Beachboys.
This year’s was due to take place from July 10-12 with Van Morrison, Dido, Jack Savoretti and Ronan Keating. Mr Phillimore said an official announcement about his festival would be released in days. Speaking yesterday, he said: “I can’t see any large festivals happening this summer.
Even if the lockdown ended, it would be impossible to sell enough tickets and people would feel uneasy about coming out anyway. “It’s obviously devastating to the whole event business.
Like many businesses, the live music sector is in serious trouble.” He said festival promoters were delaying making postponement announcements to avoid floods of refunds which could drive them out of business. Mr Phillimore, a member of the Association of Independent Festivals, has joined o lobbying the Government for greater flexibility over refunds – a move which could make or break independent events.
He added: “Like us, most events will have already invested quite considerable sums with artist deposits, pre-payments to suppliers, six months of staff wages, and advertising and are just trying to manage their cashflow as best they can.” Read also: Teenager has bike wheels stolen while working at Marks & Spencer Some local events including Towersey Festival, Riverside in Charlbury, Henley Festival and Rewind South – both in Henley – and the Blenheim Palace Battle Proms, have followed large national gatherings like Glastonbury, Download, WOMAD and the Isle of Wight and cancelled.
Yet many are continuing to sell tickets. Those still apparently planning to go ahead in Oxfordshire include Nocturne Live at Blenheim Palace, from June 18-21; Truck Festival, due to take place in Steventon from July 31- August 2; Wilderness festival near Charlbury, the same weekend; Fairport’s Cropredy Convention, near Banbury, from August 13-15, and The Big Feastival in Kingham from August 28-30.
Foals headlined Truck Festival last year. Mr Phillimore said audience members should think twice before seeking refunds to ensure events continue next year, echoing pleas by other promoters including the organisers of Blenheim Palace Battle Proms, whose event director Adam Slough said: “By carrying their tickets over, our audience will be helping to ensure that we will be here for many more years to come.” Many festivals are insisting they are still going ahead.
A Big Feastival spokesman said: “In these uncertain times, family and loved ones really are the most important thing, so here at Feastival HQ we hope everyone at home is safe and doing well. Read also: Cowley Road Carnival reveals plan to go digital in 2020 “We are closely monitoring the Covid-19 situation and advice from the UK Government and Public Health England.
Right now our amazing team are working as hard as ever to put together the best festival we possibly can and we look forward to welcoming you all to the farm at the end of August. “If our plans change for any reason, we will be sure to let you know as soon as possible. While we are dreaming of sun, music and great food, just in case the event is cancelled we’d like to reassure you that ticket buyers will be refunded.”
Truck Festival declined to comment, directing us to an old statement on its website, saying: “We are monitoring official guidance from the Government and the relevant authorities and following the situation closely. It’s over four months until the gates open and we are full steam ahead for the 2020 festival.
“However, for your own peace of mind, if there are instructions not to go ahead with Truck, ticket buyers will receive a refund.” A Cropredy spokesman said: “Safety and compliance with the Government’s health advice are Cropredy’s top priorities. The festival organising team is keeping the situation under constant review and is updating everyone through the Fairport website and social media channels.”
A statement on its website says: “Fortunately for us, Cropredy comes at the end of the summer – over four months away – and the situation may be different by then.
So at this stage we still plan to stage our festival as usual.”