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Cost of living crisis forces cancellation of No Bounds 2023

Sheffield's annual electronic music festival falls victim to funding and production cost issues – but organisers say it will return in 2024.

No Bounds 2021 Anz 2 of 5
Anz performing at No Bounds 2021.
Alex Morgan

No Bounds 2023, a major electronic music festival due to take place in October across several Sheffield venues, has been cancelled, with organisers citing "barriers to funding" alongside "ever increasing" production costs.

Founded by Sheffield DJ and musician Liam O'Shea, No Bounds was first held in 2017 and this year planned to stage a range of artists, workshops and DJs across a variety of venues over three days. The festival was named Best Boutique Festival at DJ Mag's Best of British Awards Awards in December.

Organisers said in a statement that "the last year has been extremely challenging for many of us, with barriers to funding and a cost-of-living crisis adding to ever increasing production costs" – whilst emphasising that the annual event would return in 2024 and that a scaled-down two-day event will still happen this year.

It's not the first UK festival to encounter production cost issues; Hideaway Festival in Essex, 1 Big Summer Festival in Plymouth and Chagstock Festival in Devon have all struggled to balance increased running expenses with the dilemma of acceptable ticket prices, coming to the inevitable conclusion that the events are simply financially unviable.

Now Then has published several pieces about how financial pressures on both fledgling and established artists via Brexit-based EU visa tariffs, Schengen rules and US visa hikes – now thankfully postponed – have restricted much-needed support and exposure for the best of UK musicians and bands. But the sheer number of festival cancellations is now an unwelcome addition to the list of (in many cases) insurmountable barriers for artists.

As always, the best way to support the industry is through physical attendance and involvement – even more critical since according to the Music Venues Trust, small venue closures in 2023 will be the highest recorded since 2014.

Respect is due in that in deciding to face down a full-scale cancellation, No Bounds will put on a slightly smaller weekend at Hope Works on 13th and 14th October, featuring sets by Bruce and Manami, while there will be back-to-back sets from Bluetoof & Stenny and 96 Back & Lupini, as well as a Nyege Nyege Tapes label showcase with De Schuurman, Judgitzu and others.

The No Bounds statement concludes: "Celebrate our amazing community and keep the fires burning in the meantime."

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