Glastonbury criticised for holding live-streamed event on same week music venues can reopen

Coldplay are one of the acts set to play Worthy Farm Live (Picture: Samir Hussein/Redferns)

Glastonbury’s decision to host a global livestream on the first weekend music venues can reopen has been described as ‘disappointing’ by the boss of the Music Venue Trust.

Mark Davyd, founder and chief executive of the organisation, said the move represented a ‘complete failure’ by organisers to support grassroots venues hard hit by the pandemic.

Coldplay, Damon Albarn, Haim, Kano and Jorja Smith are among the artists booked to play at various well-known sites around Worthy Farm, including the Stone Circle and Pyramid Stage, on May 22.

The ticketed live-stream event falls on the same week indoor venues can reopen with social distancing, in line with the Government’s road map out of lockdown.

Mr Davyd wrote on Twitter: ‘I think what the live industry really needs right now is some collective, collaborative, joined-up thinking.

‘Announcing the world’s largest online event for the first weekend on which limited, actual in-person events are permitted really isn’t that.

‘I’m going to politely describe the decision by @glastonbury to choose that specific weekend as “disappointing”.

‘But it unfortunately reflects a complete failure by the festival to support grassroots music venues. Literally no engagement with @musicvenuetrust at all.’

Tickets for the virtual event, which will be broadcast across four separate time zones, cost £20, with organisers also saying there will be ‘a number of unannounced surprise performances’.

Mr Davyd later added: ‘Apparently we can’t stop Glastonbury running a live stream event heavily promoted by the media on the first weekend on which real, actual events will finally take place.

‘But we can promote #ReviveLive and persuade people to spend their £20 in venues that need it.’

He since clarified that Worthy Farm Live was scheduled prior to the roadmap being announced, tweeting: ‘Positive conversation with Drift regarding LiveAtWorthyFarm Appears the event was booked prior to roadmap being announced. It falls to @glastonbury to consider how to deliver this event while supporting grassroots music venues & @musicvenuetrust at a crucial time.’

GLASTONBURY, ENGLAND - JUNE 30: The Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts on June 30, 2019 in Glastonbury, England. (Photo by Andrew Hasson/Getty Images)

Glastonbury has missed two summers due to the pandemic (Picture: Andrew Hasson/Getty Images)

Live in-person concerts have largely been cancelled over the past year in the UK due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, with festivals in 2020 cancelled.

While some festivals are going ahead in-person this year, including Reading and Leeds, Isle of Wight and Parklife, Glastonbury announced that its 2021 festival would be postponed until 2022. 

Worthy Farm Live also clashes with the Eurovision Song Contest grand final, a move described as baffling by music fans.

The final airs on BBC One, and in 2019, the contest was watched by over 180million people worldwide, leaving people confused as to why Worthy Farm Live would risk splitting the audience.

However, the live-streamed event does avoid clashes with the FA Cup final and the UEFA Champions League final, which are scheduled on Saturday May 15 and May 29 respectively.

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