Ben Challis discusses the cancellation of Glastonbury 2020 and plans for 2021
Glastonbury Festival‘s General Counsel for over 26 years, Ben Challis, – who is also a UK based entertainment lawyer who represents Yourope, the European festivals association (whose members include Roskilde in Denmark and Serbia’s Exit Festival) – has discussed the cancellation of Glastonbury 2020, the possibility of the 2021 edition going ahead and the live music industry as a whole, following the COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking to Behind The Noise Podcast’s Marc Farquhar earlier today (Monday, October 26) about the cancellation of Glastonbury 2020, Challis said: “We just announced the first 60 acts on the Thursday, and then the weekend Boris made his speech saying that there was going to be a lockdown and protecting the NHS was a priority and all resources will be directed towards that and we were about to start our build, so we had a few days of extremely difficult conversations amongst ourselves and with our statutory partners […]. We cancelled early compared to everybody else because of our build phase and I got criticism from other festivals saying why have you cancelled.”
Behind The Noise #73 – Ben Challis(Glastonbury Festival)
Spotify- https://t.co/rEbjVV4siE#glastonbury #glastonburyfestival #glasto #glastonbury2020 #glastonbury2021 #benchallis #liveevents #wemakeevents #marcfarquhar pic.twitter.com/1EkkMZ9Qun
— Marc Farquhar (@marcfarquhar) October 26, 2020
He goes on to say it was the worst time of his professional life because it just unravelled so fast and yet he explains that “We had to be sensible and prudent. One thing we did say obviously with Glastonbury is, if people want refunds we will do refunds… and it was gratifying.”
Asked by Farquhar whether there were many people requesting a refund, Challis replied: “It was literally a hand-full, it was extraordinary. No one wanted a refund.”
Asked about whether the Festival has managed to roll over all the artists from 2020 to 2021, the Glastonbury General Counsel said: “Well… It’s ongoing because it’s not just us […] we are constantly talking to each other and to the booking agents in particular and also to our suppliers.”
Discussing Glastonbury 2021, Challis added: “The plan would be to rebook the 2020 bill […] it will move everything, including our 50th-anniversary celebration to 2021”.
He continued: “For 2021 we will have to start building in March, or the end of March because its a big festival and it takes a lot to build, and no one wants to do a ‘light Glastonbury'”.
Challis words echoed organiser Emily Eavis’ comments back in August when she said: “For those who have been asking, we have no plans to move next year’s Glastonbury to September 2021 – we’re still very much aiming for June.”
Meanwhile, Glastonbury founder Michael Eavis recently spoke about the challenges that the Festival faces with COVID-19, and some possible measures which could be put in place for Glastonbury 2021, saying: “The testing is going so well now, there could be massive testing arrangements…”
Watch the full Behind The Noise Podcast episode with Glastonbury’s Ben Challis below.
Glastonbury Festival was set to celebrate its 50th anniversary this summer down on Worthy Farm – with headliners in Taylor Swift, Kendrick Lamar and Paul McCartney – but was forced to cancel this year’s instalment due to the coronavirus outbreak just a week after the lineup was announced back in March.
In a message from organisers, announcing the Festival’s cancellation, Michael and Emily Eavis explained that cancelling this year’s event was their “only viable option” following “new government measures” to prevent the spread of the pandemic – saying: “We’re so sorry that this decision has been made. It was not through choice. But we look forward to welcoming you back to these fields next year and until then, we send our love and support to all of you.”
The news of the cancellation was followed by a joint announcement from Glastonbury Festival and the BBC informing fans they could expect a celebratory run of programming across the Glasto-weekend – titled ‘The Glastonbury Experience’ – which eventually surpassed 10 million streams of content on BBC iPlayer, with thousands more having watched past sets broadcast on TV.
In looking ahead to next year’s event – set to take place at its natural home in Worthy Farm, Pilton, Somerset, from Wednesday 23th to Sunday 27th June – here is everything we know about Glastonbury Festival 2021 thus far.Advertisement