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"Event guarantee" now here, but what does it mean?

It's hoped that a scheme to reimburse event organizers for unavoidable cancellations will revitalize the sector.

Flow 2018.
A total of 85 million euros is being set aside for event guarantees. Events canceled after the beginning of June will be eligible. This photo is from the 2018 Flow Festival in Helsinki. Image: Berislav Jurišić / Yle

On Wednesday this week, the government announced a 230.86 million euro support package for culture, arts, sports and events, including 85 million euros towards a so-called event guarantee. The funds are intended to aid event organizers who are in a difficult situation due to uncertainty caused the coronavirus epidemic.

The guarantee applies to events that have to be canceled between 1 June and 31 December of this year. That means it is not applicable events that have already been canceled because of health concerns and official restrictions.

Maria Sahlstedt, Director of Communications and Public Affairs at Event Industries of Finland says it is good that the guarantee offer is valid until the end of the year, pointing out that this will encourage organizers to plan events for both the summer and autumn. She also says she believes that the 85 million earmarked for the guarantees will be sufficient..

If infection rates remain at moderate levels, there will likely be no need to cancel any more events this year. However, Sahlstedt is still cautious.

"If, for some reason, we are again in the awful situation of rising infections, then the total amount of aid will have to be reconsidered," she told Yle.

Payment plan

Under the new scheme, event organizers and their subcontractors will be able to apply for an event guarantee from the state treasury to cover costs specified in the application.

If the event is then cancelled or limited in scope by law or a public authority, compensation would be paid for the costs incurred.

Story continues after the photo.

Ihmisiä kesäisenä päivänä torilla.
Maria Sahlstedt of Event Industries of Finland believes that it is high time sector received support to help deal with losses incurred during the pandemic. Photo from a music event in Porvoo last summer. Image: Rebecka Svedberg / Yle

The events industry calculates it has lost a total of 2.5 billion euros because of the coronavirus epidemic.

"For the beginning of 2021 alone, losses will be at least 700 million euros," Sahlstedt estimates.

Details of the events guarantee are now being finalised at the Ministry of Employment and the Economy.

Last February, Minister of Economic Affairs Mika Lintilä (Cen) proposed the event guarantee as one way to alleviate the plight of the industry.

At that time he told Yle, "We have well-established festivals that are of great importance to the regional economy and tourism. Quite often, events are built around culture, and [total] economic losses are multiples of the losses by the actual cultural event."

Story continues after the photo.

Yleisöä Years & Yearsin keikalla Ruisrockissa.
It is still uncertain if late-summer events can be held in Finland. It all depends on how well the coronavirus is brought under control. Photo of the crowd at a gig by the band Years & Years at Ruisrock in the summer of 2018. Image: Juuli Aschan / YleX

Tough times for entrepreneurs

Event Industries of Finland is a nationwide advocacy organization for the events sector with more than 200 members.

According to Maria Sahlstedt, dozens of companies have left the industry over the past year because of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

"The entire industry has been at a standstill since December and limited for more than a year. Existing subsidies have not reached everyone," she points out.

Sahlstedt is particularly concerned about entrepreneurs in the event industry.

"Some companies have not had any business for a year. Many of them are heavily indebted and entrepreneurs are in a really tough predicament. They may have had to mortgaged their homes because the crisis has lasted so long," Maria Sahlstedt says.

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