‘Devastating And Infuriating’ – Kendal Calling 2021 Postponed Due To Delayed COVID-19 Safety Guidance

By Rachael Grealish

Kendal Calling has officially been postponed for another year, this time due to delayed COVID-19 safety guidance, a move organisers have called ‘devastating’ and ‘infuriating’.

The organisers posted the news of the festival’s social media today, Monday June 21, putting the delay down to, not only, a delay in the country’s ‘freedom day’, but also a delay in safety guidance.

The statement read: “Last Monday saw the delay of the so-called ‘Freedom Day’. As Kendal Calling sits outside of this delay we would still be in a strong position to proceed. But Monday also saw a less publicised delay; the release of the long-awaited research from the Event Research Programme (ERP) and with it, crucially, the publication of safety guidance on how we run events.

“Without this safety guidance, there are numerous aspects of the festival we cannot plan, and which could lay us wide open to last minute unforeseen regulations or requirements which could scupper an already built festival.

“Capacity or density restrictions, track and trace protocol, testing regime, covid certification – a host of unknown actions required yet potentially requested too late to be implemented.”

The organisers went on to say the decision to postpone the festival again was not only ‘heartbreaking’, but ‘infuriating’.

They wrote: “We wish that we were able to bring you better news however it breaks our hearts to tell you that our fifteenth birthday celebrations are postponed once again.

“Postponing in 2020 was sad but understandable. Postponing in 2021 is heart-breaking. Infuriating.”

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Kendal Calling was due to take place at Lowther Deer Park, in Cumbria, from July 29 to August 1 – with headliners including Stereophonics, Supergrass, The Streets and Dizzee Rascal – after the festival was cancelled last year due to the COVID pandemic.

Organisers called out Downing Street saying it’s plans and pans to publish ERP guidance didn’t ‘fit’ and ‘insulting’ to the music and festival industry.

“Our understanding is that the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) are keen to publish the ERP findings and guidance, but that it now does not fit around No.10’s communications plan,” the statement continued.

“This is insulting to our entire industry, who have been awaiting the results of a pilot event that took place almost two months ago to inform our approach to staging events safely this summer.”

Organisers, Andy and Ben, said they had tried to salvage the 2021 event by applying to take part in the next round of the Event Research Programme, similar to events held in Liverpool earlier this year, but they were not successful and claim no reason was given.

The KC team also took the opportunity in their statement to criticise the government’s lack of insurance schemes for such events.

They said: “This has been a frankly devastating 16 months for our industry. If calls for a government-backed insurance scheme had been heeded – as recommended by the DCMS, emulating successful schemes now up and running in other countries – we could have potentially continued to plan and invest in the coming weeks.

“We take this opportunity to urge the government to re-appraise its approach and to listen to the recommendations of its own reports, as the continued lack of leadership hampers the recovery of our live event industry.”

Andy and Ben finished their statement by saying they ‘tried our best’ to keep the Cumbrian festival going, but confirmed they received no help from the Cultural Recovery Fund, which has contributed to the decision to cancel.

“Please believe me when I say that we tried our best. Despite Kendal Calling having been denied any aid from the Cultural Recovery Fund, Restart Grant or the Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund we have worked harder than ever with a clear goal in mind – to experience the joy and love that the fields we know so well are famous for.

“I think we speak for us all when I say – we needed this. Going two summers without a festival is devastating to all of us; we need the support of our audience now more than ever and retaining your tickets would go the longest way in helping us during this period,” they wrote.

Any tickets will automatically roll over to next year’s festival which will take place from July 28 to 31, 2022.