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Womad Festival co-founder Peter Gabriel warns it may be axed this year

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Rock star Peter Gabriel’s hit world-music festival Womad may have to be cancelled this year if the Government doesn’t offer financial support, the Genesis frontman warned.

Womad 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 at Charlton Park, Wiltshire, gained cult status and became a hit with celebrities – including Prince Harry who was spotted there in 2013.

But Womad’s future could be in jeopardy, with Gabriel calling on the Government to offer ‘support for independent festivals particularly’, as well as the whole sector. 

Without additional backing – such as an underwriting scheme – it will likely be forced to cancel, he added saying: ‘We can’t risk sinking it this year.’

Rock star Peter Gabriel’s (pictured) hit world-music festival Womad may have to be cancelled this year if the Government doesn’t offer financial support, the Genesis frontman warned

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

Gabriel told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘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.’

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

Asked whether organisers will have to cancel the festival this year without support, he said: ‘I think we have to. We’ve been faced with bankruptcy on two occasions previous to that and if we’re trying to secure the future of the festival… we can’t risk sinking it this year.’

In previous years, acts have included reggae, soul, alternative rock, hip hop, and old- school rock n roll.

Womad – which stands for World of Music, Arts and Dance – combines acts with a range of workshops, with cooking at the World Cafe, drumming, singing, Tai Chi lessons, face painting for children and a ‘Speakeasy’ featured in previous years. 

But Womad's (pictured in 2010) future could be in jeopardy, with Gabriel calling on the Government to offer 'support for independent festivals particularly', as well as the whole sector

But Womad’s (pictured in 2010) future could be in jeopardy, with Gabriel calling on the Government to offer ‘support for independent festivals particularly’, as well as the whole sector

Without additional backing - such as an underwriting scheme - it will likely be forced to cancel, Gabriel added saying: 'We can't risk sinking it this year.' Pictured: The Womad Festival in 2010

Without additional backing – such as an underwriting scheme – it will likely be forced to cancel, Gabriel added saying: ‘We can’t risk sinking it this year.’ Pictured: The Womad Festival in 2010

Treasury minister Jesse Norman said ‘an enormous amount of money’ has already been poured into the arts during the pandemic, when asked if a Government-backed insurance scheme could be introduced to support festivals.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘I think the answer to that question is the Government has already poured an enormous amount of money into the arts and culture sector, so it’s important to recognise what has already been done.’

Pressed if the underwriting insurance will be considered, Mr Norman said: ‘Of course the Government continues to monitor the way in which restrictions are playing out, and this is a matter for discussion, as the Culture Secretary has said, it’s a matter for the sector to address with him.’

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 after June 21. 

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’.

Committee chairman Julian Knight said: ‘If the commercial insurance market won’t step in, ministers must, and urgently.’

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