No festivals in 2021 either? Organizers fear future insurance terms

Overijssel Liberation Day Festival, 5 May 2014
Overijssel Liberation Day Festival, 5 May 2014Photo: Nummer 12/Wikimedia Commons

After a disastrous 2020 for the Netherlands' festival industry, with all large events canceled until at least September, event organizers are now also worried about 2021. Insurers no longer want to insure against pandemics, which means that organizers can't insure themselves for next year and therefore may be unable to organize events, NOS reports.

After the first coronavirus patients were diagnosed in the Netherlands in February, most insurers removed coverage for a pandemic. "Fortunately we were insured against a pandemic this year," Jasper Coenen of Elevation Events, the agency that organizes festivals like Soenda and Smeerboel, said to NOS. "But next year no one can take out insurance against that anymore." Organizers often start preparing events, and therefore incurring costs, almost a year in advance. "We cannot work without such insurance."

Insurers removed pandemic insurance from their packages because the risks are too high, Maarten van Denderen of Klap No Risk, one of the major insurers in the Netherlands for music events, explained to the broadcaster. "As an insurer, you look at how big the risk is, and do you want to cover it at a certain premium," he said. "The risk is now so great that the premium becomes very high. Then you might as well not be insured. There is no insurer in the world that still insures against this."

According to Van Denderen, a solution must be found to prevent next year's festival season from collapsing. He proposed a guarantee fund, with which the government promises to cover part of the costs if events have to be canceled next year due to "transmittable diseases".  The government doesn't have to cover all costs, he added. Only, for example, if an event cannot be held due to a government decision, and only for events with over a thousand attendees and that have been held since at least 2019. 

The government could also only cover costs necessary for Dutch stakeholders, Van Denderen added. "Of these costs, a predetermined percentage is reimbursed, the minimum amount to ensure the survival of the organizations and thus the entire industry."

Concert organizer Mojo is enthusiastic about the idea. "A guarantee fund can be a very important factor," financial director Leo Jaarsma said. While Mojo books many international artists, Jaarsma could live with a fund that only covers Dutch stakeholders. "These are good conditions for getting the government to participate int he plan."