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Music festival industry stands on the brink of collapse, warns Peter Gabriel

Peter Gabriel on stage at Womad (Zak Hussein/PA)
Peter Gabriel on stage at Womad (Zak Hussein/PA)

Peter Gabriel has warned the music festival industry stands “on the brink of collapse” as he called for the Government to give more certainty to event organisers.

The Genesis musician, who co-founded the world music festival Womad in 1980, said the organisers are faced with “one very difficult and heart-wrenching decision” about whether the event can go ahead this year.

He said Womad, which is scheduled to take place from July 22, is “not asking for handouts from the Government” but organisers need more certainty if they are to put on the event this year.


In a statement to the PA news agency, Gabriel and the Womad team said: “Without immediate Government intervention, the festival industry is on the brink of collapse.

“That doesn’t mean cash; it means providing certainty to enable us to deliver festivals, guidance on safety, and an understanding of how their timing affects us in the real world.

“At the end of this week, Womad will be faced with one very difficult and heart-wrenching decision. Millions of pounds of investment and the livelihoods of around five thousand people are at stake.”

He said that while several pilot events have been organised by the Government “we need to be told what that research means for Womad”.

He said: “Are we permitted to run the festival, and under what conditions?

“We struggle to understand why these trials took place if the Government can’t now tell us the results and how that will affect all of us.”

The statement said that “unless something changes by the start of next week, we will be forced to cancel Womad 2021”.

It added that Womad organisers are “all extremely grateful” for the funding they received as part of the Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund, but the money cannot be used to finance this year’s event.

Earlier this month Download Festival went ahead with around 10,000 music fans at the rock and metal music event in Leicestershire – although the capacity was significantly reduced from its normal attendance of 111,000.

Download Festival 2021
Revellers at Download Festival (Joe Giddens/PA)

The festival was a Government pilot event for the return of live music.

Latitude, which is run by Festival Republic, the company behind Download Festival, announced on Friday it would be going ahead between July 22 and July 25 in Suffolk.

However, Lake District event Kendal Calling has cancelled its 2021 edition, due to take place from July 29 to August 31 with headliners including Stereophonics and Dizzee Rascal, citing a lack of guidance from the Government.

Glastonbury will also not take place this summer after it was cancelled for a second year in a row because of the pandemic.

Mass events are currently scheduled to be allowed to take place from July 19 when coronavirus restrictions ease.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport have been contacted for comment.

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