LEEK Arts Festival has been called off for the second year running because of uncertainty over the Covid-19 pandemic.

Plans for the annual festival were scrapped last year after the government imposed a lockdown as part of its bid to control the spread of the virus.

Now, organisers have confirmed this year's event - which should have gone ahead for around six weeks from late April to early June - has also been called off.

Festival spokesman, Phil Edmeades, said: "After cancelling our programme of more than 40 events last year we had hoped everything would be back to normal in time for us to go ahead with an even bigger and better festival in May this year.

"Unfortunately, Covid-19 has not yet gone away and, despite the roll-out of vaccines, it is simply not feasible for us to plan a festival without more certainty about what will be happening in May in terms of public gatherings and social distancing.

"Any restriction on numbers of people allowed to gather at an event will inevitably limit audiences and, therefore, ticket sales.

"The festival costs around £20,000 to organise each year and without knowing that we can cover our costs we feel it would be foolish to press ahead with a programme of events this May."

Phil said the decision to cancel the 2021 Leek Arts Festival was a huge disappointment for the organising committee and had only been reached after a great deal of discussion and exploration of other options.

He added: "As the roll-out of Covid-19 vaccines continues it is likely that the government restrictions will be gradually eased to allow public gatherings for the sort of events we stage as part of the festival.

"When that happens we hope to be able to organise some sort of mini-festival over a weekend towards the late summer or early autumn of this year.

"No firm decisions have been taken at this stage, although we would hope to involve major artists together with input from artists and performers from the local area."

Uncertainty over the Covid-19 restrictions has forced many other arts and music festival organisers to abandon their plans for 2021 including the five-day Glastonbury Festival which attracts crowds of more than 200,000.

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