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'Heartbreaking' decision to cancel Standon Calling 2020 music festival because of coronavirus

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Standon Calling is the latest casualty of the coronavirus crisis as founder Alex Trenchard predicts tough financial tests ahead for the music festival.

The boutique event was due to take place from July 23 to 26 with headliners Bombay Bicycle Club, Hot Chip and Primal Scream. Other acts included Maribou State, Craig David TS5, Sister Sledge, Ella Eyre, Everything Everything, Sophie Ellis-Bextor and Grandmaster Flash.

Without insurance to cover losses caused by the unprecedented pandemic, Alex and his team had hoped to carry on or postpone until later in the summer, but on Thursday (May 7) he said: "We are heartbroken to announce that due to the impact of Covid-19, the 15th anniversary of Standon Calling will no longer be taking place in 2020.

"As communicated in April, we have been exploring multiple options, however it has become clear that hosting the festival this year will not be possible.

"We are incredibly sad that this will be the first year since we started out that the festival will not go ahead, but this is the right decision for all of us – our audience, our staff, our local community, our artists and the emergency services."

The festival has been rescheduled for July 22 to 25 next year.

Alex Trenchard (34421774)
Alex Trenchard (34421774)

Alex said: "After Nile Rodgers brought the curtain down on a very special 2019 festival, I said that the longevity of Standon Calling is built on the support of its audience. Without you, there would be no festival. Without you, the event would be no more than many glorious faded memories – from our biggest ever main stage crowd singing Shotgun back at George Ezra in 2018 to a 22-year-old Florence Welch mesmerising the masses way back in 2008."

The event relies on revenue from bar sales and traders to keep going, and Alex was frank that it lacked the infrastructure and cash reserves to mitigate against a significant financial loss.

He made it clear that loyalty from fans was vital for the festival's survival: "Your ongoing support has meant that we have always survived the tough times. We have, however, never had to face anything as challenging as this."

He urged revellers to roll over their tickets and said: "This festival is a labour of love and together we can keep delivering these experiences year on year."

Primal Scream (34421823)
Primal Scream (34421823)

Every 2020 adult weekend ticket holder who hangs on to their ticket to 2021 will be entered into a prize draw to win one of 20 tickets for life or one of 50 £50 bar tabs for 2021. There will also be exclusive access to a virtual edition of Standon Calling this summer and priority access to any smaller events.

Alex has given detailed answers to help fans...

Why has the 2020 festival been postponed?

This is a heartbreaking call to have to make, but unfortunately due to the widespread effects of the coronavirus (Covid-19), Standon Calling will not go ahead as planned in July 2020. This is in the interests of public safety and to reduce pressure on the emergency services.

When will Standon Calling next happen?

The next festival will be held from July 22-25, 2021.

Why have you come to this decision now?

We have spent recent weeks reviewing a number of different scenarios, including going ahead in July, postponing to later in the summer as well as postponing to 2021. Sadly, it looks likely that social distancing measures could be in place for much of this year and we have had to make the heartbreaking decision that Standon Calling will not take place in 2020.

What does this mean for Standon Calling?

As an independent festival, the effects of coronavirus are going to be financially testing for the business. But we're confident that with your support we will get through this. Standon Calling is a grass-roots, independently owned and family-run festival that started as a birthday barbecue 15 years ago. It has been held in the grounds of Standon Lordship every summer ever since. This is the first time... that it will not go ahead. The festival has been through testing times over the last 15 years, but with your support, the festival has made it through, retaining the same amazing spirit, year on year.

What's the reality facing Standon Calling and other small independent festivals moving forwards?

Like most other small independent festivals, we don't have the infrastructure and cash reserves to mitigate against a significant financial loss. We make the majority of the money needed to run the festival through the bars and traders. So if the festival doesn't go ahead, we lose out on a significant proportion of our annual income. The money from advance ticket sales always goes into supplier deposits, staff payroll, advertising and some artists' deposits which have already been committed to and paid. Due to the current circumstances, our insurance doesn't protect us against the coronavirus, and therefore we're unable to claim all of this money back. We operate within really tight margins where every revenue stream counts.

Our motivation to keep putting on Standon Calling every year is that we are passionate about the festival and the positive experience that it delivers to our audience and local community. Standon Calling is only made possible by each and every one of you, and this year we need our community to come together more than ever. To try to navigate this testing time and continue to put on the festival that you all know and love, we need as many of you as possible to roll over your tickets to 2021. We understand that this is a tough time for everyone and we will honour all refund requests should rolling over to 2021 not be an option.

Why aren't you insured?

Each year we take out cancellation insurance to cover us against a number of potential challenges; for example, bad weather. The unprecedented nature of coronavirus means that it is not something that is covered by our insurance.

Will the line-up be the same for the next festival?

In all honesty, we're not sure yet. Whilst there will inevitably be changes, we will try to retain as much of the line-up as possible whilst taking on board feedback received this year. Our 15th anniversary theme 'The Party of All Time' will remain.

* To find out more about how the ticket rollover will operate or to request a refund, see https://standon-calling.com/.

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