Womad Festival cancelled as Peter Gabriel blasts Boris Johnson over Covid test event status

Womad Festival has been officially cancelled this year, as its co-founder slammed Boris Johnson for failing to give the popular music jamboree Covid test event status.

The news was announced via social media, with rock star Peter Gabriel saying persisting confusion over the extension of Covid restrictions into the middle of July meant festival planners had ‘sadly run out of time’.

He said: ‘We cannot continue and put Womad’s long term future at risk.’ 

Organisers also explained that the government’s ‘unwillingness to provide insurance support for festivals’ was a major reason behind the event’s cancellation.

The three-day event at Charlton Park, Wiltshire was scheduled to run from Thursday, July 22 to Saturday, July 25 this year – three days after Covid restrictions are due to ease.  

The news comes as festival planners have used test rock event Download as ‘100 per cent evidence’ that large scale music events can safely return in the future. 

Rock star Peter Gabriel (pictured) said persisting confusion over the extension of Covid restrictions into the middle of July meant festival planners had ‘sadly run out of time’

Womad (pictured in 2019) was founded by the singer in 1982 and quickly became a firm favourite with families - featuring activities for children alongside acts from Africa, the Americas, Pan-Asia and Europe

Womad (pictured in 2019) was founded by the singer in 1982 and quickly became a firm favourite with families - featuring activities for children alongside acts from Africa, the Americas, Pan-Asia and Europe

Womad (pictured in 2019) was founded by the singer in 1982 and quickly became a firm favourite with families – featuring activities for children alongside acts from Africa, the Americas, Pan-Asia and Europe

The three-day event (pictured in 2019) eventually gained cult status and became a hit with celebrities - including Prince Harry who was spotted there in 2013

The three-day event (pictured in 2019) eventually gained cult status and became a hit with celebrities - including Prince Harry who was spotted there in 2013

The three-day event (pictured in 2019) eventually gained cult status and became a hit with celebrities – including Prince Harry who was spotted there in 2013

In a statement shared online this evening, organisers wrote: ‘Following today’s update and the Government’s unwillingness to provide insurance support for festivals, we are very sadly out of time and have no option but to cancel Womad 2021.’

Peter Gabriel said: ‘It is with great regret we are cancelling Womad 2021 today. Without the simple support of a Government insurance scheme or the guarantee of Test Event status, we cannot continue to put Womad’s long term future at risk.

‘We feel that our audience, artists, staff and contractors, who have been amazingly supportive throughout all of this, will understand the need for us to guarentee our survival.’ 

The news comes a week after 10,000 rock fans congregated at annual Download Festival in Donnington Park as part of a safety trial to see if large scale music events can safely return.

Organisers described the event’s success as ‘100 per cent evidence’ that big music events can take place safely amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

The news comes a week after 10,000 rock fans congregated at annual Download Festival in Donnington Park as part of a safety trial to see if large scale music events can safely return

The news comes a week after 10,000 rock fans congregated at annual Download Festival in Donnington Park as part of a safety trial to see if large scale music events can safely return

The news comes a week after 10,000 rock fans congregated at annual Download Festival in Donnington Park as part of a safety trial to see if large scale music events can safely return 

Mr Benn, the organiser of Download Festival, said this year's three-day music event (pictured) was '100 per cent evidence' that big music events can take place safely amid the Covid-19 pandemic

Mr Benn, the organiser of Download Festival, said this year's three-day music event (pictured) was '100 per cent evidence' that big music events can take place safely amid the Covid-19 pandemic

Mr Benn, the organiser of Download Festival, said this year’s three-day music event (pictured) was ‘100 per cent evidence’ that big music events can take place safely amid the Covid-19 pandemic

Around 10,000 fans flocked to Donington Park, East Midlands, to enjoy the three-day version of Download Festival, called Download Pilot, which kicked off on Friday before coming to a close on Sunday night. Pictured: Festival goers on Sunday

Around 10,000 fans flocked to Donington Park, East Midlands, to enjoy the three-day version of Download Festival, called Download Pilot, which kicked off on Friday before coming to a close on Sunday night. Pictured: Festival goers on Sunday

Around 10,000 fans flocked to Donington Park, East Midlands, to enjoy the three-day version of Download Festival, called Download Pilot, which kicked off on Friday before coming to a close on Sunday night. Pictured: Festival goers on Sunday 

Around 10,000 eager fans flocked to Donington Park, East Midlands, to enjoy the three-day version of Download Festival, called Download Pilot, which kicked off on Friday, June 18 before coming to a close on Sunday night. 

Melvin Benn, managing director of the Festival Republic group, said the level of compliance he saw during the Covid test event was ‘extraordinary’, adding that the festival was proof music events could be Covid secure. 

Speaking as the festival drew to a close, Mr Benn said: ‘It’s extraordinary really. It’s really fantastic. I am very heart-warmed by it all.

MPs warned UK music festivals are facing another 'lost summer' because of the Government's 'refusal to back insurance' for cancelled events Pictured: Festival goers enjoy Womad 2018

MPs warned UK music festivals are facing another 'lost summer' because of the Government's 'refusal to back insurance' for cancelled events Pictured: Festival goers enjoy Womad 2018

MPs warned UK music festivals are facing another ‘lost summer’ because of the Government’s ‘refusal to back insurance’ for cancelled events Pictured: Festival goers enjoy Womad 2018

It comes as MPs warned UK music festivals are facing another ‘lost summer’ because of the Government’s ‘refusal to back insurance’ for events at risk of being cancelled because of Covid-19 restrictions.

Members of the digital, media, culture and sport committee are calling for ministers to ‘act now’ and provide a ‘safety net’ for live events.

They want a ‘time-limited insurance scheme’ introduced to help the festivals out. 

But the committee said the Government’s decision to rule out support before all roadmap restrictions are lifted would be ‘simply be too late for festivals this summer’.

Earlier this month, singer Gabriel warned his popular festival could be axed without government support.

Speaking on BBC R4’s Today programme, he said: ‘If we’re trying to restore cultural life and normality then we do need a bit of help here.

‘It’s a huge industry now and we would like to get some confidence and security from something like an insurance scheme, some sort of underwriting scheme.’

Asked if festivals should become part of the pilot scheme on large events, he said: ‘It’s very difficult and obviously we want to be included, the vaccine programme has been amazing.

‘If we can just lock those in and get some support for independent festivals particularly, but all the festival sector, then I think we can have a great summer.’

Womad was founded by singer Peter Gabriel in 1982 and quickly became a firm favourite with families – featuring activities for children alongside acts from Africa, the Americas, Pan-Asia and Europe. 

The three-day jamboree is also a hit with celebrities – including Prince Harry who was spotted there in 2013. 

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