With great regret, we have to announce that Electromagnetic Field 2020 is cancelled.
EMF will return in summer 2022, as scheduled.
If you have a ticket for EMF 2020, you are eligible for a full refund and a guaranteed ticket to EMF 2022. We will contact all ticketholders with further details next week.
The continuing spread of COVID-19 makes it very unlikely the UK will be back to “business as usual” by July. Continuing to organise EMF 2020 would put our attendees’ money, our volunteers, and our organisation at risk.
We know this is terrible news, but after much consideration we feel that cancelling now is the right choice.
Outdoor events have many expenses which must be paid in advance. The EMF team has already committed at least £25,000 in non-refundable payments for the 2020 event. We don’t expect to get any of this money back.
We attempted to get insurance against COVID-19 in January, however insurers were already explicitly excluding it from their policies, with somewhat more foresight than our government.
If we were to continue planning, more payments would be needed and we risk insolvency (bankruptcy) if we had to cancel at a later date. Ticketholders would have to compete with event suppliers for the remaining money, and we would need to raise funds in order to buy back EMF’s equipment & assets for future events.
By cancelling now we can refund all ticketholders.
The UK government is likely to legally restrict large events for a few months, and we strongly suspect such a ban may be extended. They have made vague statements about compensating events if they are forced to cancel, but there is still no clear indication if or how this will happen.
Even if the government doesn’t force us to cancel, there’s a significant chance that many of our suppliers, sponsors, and attendees will be substantially affected, and we are very unlikely to be entitled to compensation if the event has to be cancelled voluntarily.
We are concerned the UK government’s policy that “risks of transmitting the disease at mass gatherings are relatively low” is not grounded in scientific evidence. As everyone who has experienced “conference flu” can attest, infectious diseases easily spread at large multi-day events, and COVID-19 is by all accounts a very infectious disease.
Early evidence from Japan, as well as the super-spreading caused by “patient 31” in South Korea, indicate mass gatherings can be a significant factor in the spread of COVID-19. Others have also pointed out this apparent flaw in the advice provided to the government.
It’s likely the risk of transmission at an outdoor event like EMF is lower than a similarly-sized indoor event. But we would much rather be over-cautious than responsible for potentially hundreds of avoidable infections, and possibly even deaths.
EMF is run by volunteers. None of us are paid; our reward is seeing the event come together. We’ve all had a hard time focusing on EMF when there’s a very significant chance the event may be cancelled, and our work will have been for nothing.
Alongside this we are all experiencing unprecedented challenges caused by COVID-19: financial difficulties, school closures, inability to travel, working from home, family worries, and the creeping terror of the news every day.
These issues are already causing problems, and we face a constant uphill battle. We do not want to cause more stress for our volunteers in these already stressful times.
EMF 2020 was shaping up to be the best event yet and we’re truly devastated we won’t be able to make it happen. We’d like to thank all of our volunteers who spent the last year working in every spare moment to make EMF 2020 a reality. You’re wonderful people.
Our thoughts are with friends facing similar painful decisions, and especially with those whose livelihoods – unlike most of ours – depend on these events happening.
We hope to see you in a field in 2022. Maybe we’ll be able to organise something else before that. Until then, stay safe.
The EMF Team