A collective of leading UK Christian festivals have urged people to consider supporting them as they battle to survive the financial fallout caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The letter, signed by leading festivals including New Wine, Spring Harvest and CreationFest, expressed concern over the future viability of their events considering the enormous impact on their finances over the past 12 months.
Speaking to Premier, Jules Morgan, Executive Director of New Wine said the future of many events are hanging in the balance:
"When it hit last year in March, and many Christian events were in touch together at that point, we thought it would be for one year only. And we did our very best through generous donations from people who come to our events, to be able to put something on so there were many that did things for free last year. But it's not sustainable for the long term. Because while the gospel is free, actually the speakers, the lighting or the organization around it, we're talking millions for events of the sort of size in the UK to run safely and well."
The letter states:
"Christian events in the UK have a legacy that has impacted millions, and that legacy is refreshed year on year as more come to faith and respond to God’s work in their lives," they wrote. "Christian events create space for us to come away from the day-to-day routine and for God to impact us. This has birthed new ministries, charities, and dreams in us which have gone on to bring cultural transformation and support the mission of the church.
"But now, the Covid-Pandemic has had a profound impact on us all both practically and financially."
With an increasing number of events now being held online, the festivals said that "‘free’ is becoming increasingly expected", but that it is simply not sustainable in the long-term.
"'Free’ comes at a high cost for us," they added. "So, from us all in the UK that run a Christian event, we need you to know that most of us just can’t do it."
The festivals then openly requested help from supporters in order to get through this tough time. "Standing together as Christian event leaders, we’re asking for your help this year," they wrote.
"If you want to see Christian gatherings survive, then now is the time we need your prayerful and practical support. We need people like you to stand with us financially, and to support us in any way you can – so that we are all here to gather again in 2022."
They added that while "the gospel brings freedom and is free to share...putting on a gathering where that truth is celebrated is not free".
"Gathering thousands together takes infrastructure and so much more and we simply cannot do these things for free," they wrote. "The very many elements that are needed to keep organisations running so that they can put on the spring and summer gatherings you love, need financing."
The group offered three ways in which people can support their future festivals. Firstly, through prayer. "We all need the wisdom of the Lord currently," they wrote. "Please pray regularly for us as we lead our organisations, listen to His leading and do all we can to serve Him and you."
Secondly, by attending.
"Some events are running digital or hybrid alternatives in 2021," they wrote. "The best support you can give is to join those events and buy tickets. If you decide that you would prefer to wait until 2022 please consider buying a ticket in 2021 to ensure that your preferred event/festival is able to be there in 2022. We hear ‘Oh I’ll just wait and go in 2022 instead’ but the harsh reality is that without support for us in 2021 you may not have that choice!"
The group also suggested that people consider a donation.
"If you would normally plan to attend an event or festival this year and consider yourself ‘a regular’ please consider donating – even if there is no event in 2021/a free alternative, or you can’t go this year," they wrote.
Finally, they encouraged people to sow financially into their future events with "a one-off gift".
"This is the make-or-break year for some of us and your gift could make the difference," they said.
"We stand together. Thank you."