Heavenly Planet could become a free festival

organisers plan to make it free of charge

published: Fri 20th Feb 2009

Melvin Benn

Friday 10th to Saturday 11th July 2009
Richfield Avenue, Rivermead, Reading, Berkshire, England MAP
expected to become a free festival
daily capacity: 15000
last updated: Tue 17th Mar 2009

The new international music festival called Heavenly Planet held at Rivermead, Reading has announced that it is to become a free event.

Mevlin Benn

Thomas Brooman

Cllr Graeme Hoskin
The brainchild of Reading Borough Council, Reading Festival organiser Melvin Benn and WOMAD's ex-artistic director Thomas Brooman, the festival is planned to feature various genres of music from across the world, aimed at families and teenagers.

Melvin Benn said, "Festival Republic and its Heavenly Planet partners are wholly committed to providing a new world-class festival in Reading alongside the banks of the River Thames, starting in July this year. The ethos of Heavenly Planet Festival is music and optimism and we have made the decision that this year's event will be free for Reading residents and its visitors to enjoy."

The recommendation for Heavenly Planet to be a free event will be considered by Reading Borough Council's Cabinet members on Monday 16th March.

Ticket sales have been slow for the Heavenly Planet event held on the site which was WOMAD's old home and set to take place over the weekend of Friday 10th until Saturday 11th July 2009 and rather than cancel the event organisers have decided to make it free.

Lead councillor for culture and sport Graeme Hoskin said in an interview with the local newspaper the Evening Post, (here) that, "Rather than give up on it, which none of us wanted, we decided for the first year we would open it up for everyone for free."

Cllr Hoskin is quoted as saying, "The council's role as a licensing authority is entirely separate from its role as one of the organisers and we will make absolutely certain that it will be a well-run event. Festival Republic are very professional and experienced in running festivals."

The councillor was also keen to point out that although there would be savings made by not having to keep people out of a ticket event, there would be no compromise on safety, adding, "Health and safety issues are paramount." He also revealed that despite it being a free event the organisers were not expecting this would lead to overcrowding on the Rivermead site because of the nature of the line-up at the family event.

Those who have already bought tickets will have their money refunded and Hoskin says that they are looking at some form of thank you for those who supported the festival.

Thomas Brooman is quoted as saying, "We are completely committed to establishing this new festival for the people of Reading and for the broader audience we believe it will attract. We are keen for as many people as possible, people of all sorts, to come along and help to create this new festival experience and the way that we know will create the biggest impact and the best possible future for the festival is to present it free of charge in its first year."

Organisers hope that most of the bands already announced would still be appearing but admit the decision to become a free festival would dramatically change the budget available.

Artists set to appear include Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba, Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, The Wonder Stuff, Patrick Duff, Toto la Momposina and Chase & Status featuring Plan B & Takura. Beat*Reading will host the best in dance, drum 'n' bass, dubstep, UK hip hop and live programming. The festival will continue to host a series of world class acts across the two days and further artists will be added to the bill.

Heavenly Planet will now be a non-camping event, and is hoping to attract 15,000 people and will feature a mix of music from across the world with three all-weather stages in big tops, and the festival will also make use of Rivermead leisure centre.

The Wonder Stuff

Friday 10th to Saturday 11th July 2009
Richfield Avenue, Rivermead, Reading, Berkshire, England MAP
expected to become a free festival
daily capacity: 15000
last updated: Tue 17th Mar 2009

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