Reading's Heavenly Planet festival has been cancelled

recession and poor ticket sales blamed for its failure

published: Tue 17th Mar 2009

Cllr Graeme Hoskin

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

Heavenly Planet the new music festival which was to be held at Rivermead, Reading has been cancelled by festival organisers.

Cllr Graeme Hoskin
The brainchild of Reading Borough Council, Reading Festival organiser Melvin Benn and WOMAD's ex-artistic director Thomas Brooman, the festival was announced last September with the plan being to hold it on the site which was WOMAD's old home and set to take place over the weekend of Friday 10th and Saturday 11th July. Ticket sales had been slow for the event and it was hoped that rather than cancel the festival it would become a free event.

However last night at a meeting of Reading Borough Council's cabinet the final decision was made to scrap the festival, with the cabinet concluding that the earlier idea to make it a free festival was no longer an option.

Lead councillor for culture and sport Graeme Hoskin said, "People everywhere are tightening their belts and making savings and we are no different. Through no fault of his own, Thomas was no longer able to make the equal financial commitment necessary. Whilst this is unfortunate, as a Council we do not feel we can commit any more public money to cover the additional costs that are now needed.."

Last month the joint organisers of the new festival announced that entry to the festival would be free in its first year, with costs covered equally by the three partners. However the worsening economic climate has meant that Thomas Brooman was unable to commit to funding the event on the basis that had been agreed and pulled out. As a result the two remaining partners, Reading Borough Council and Festival Republic, have reluctantly agreed to cancel the festival.

Festival Republic boss Melvin Benn said, "It is with regret that we make this announcement to cancel our new festival Heavenly Planet which was due to take place in Reading in July. The worsening economic crisis and circumstances beyond our control have been major factors in the final decision."

It is believed that Benn has also agreed to foot the council's costs so far, thought to be around £10,000.

Reading Borough Council and Festival Republic will not be making any financial commitment to holding a similar event next year, instead they have agreed to monitor the recession and any economic recovery with a view to planning for possible festivals in future years.

Anyone who has purchased a ticket will be able to secure a full refund from the Reading Arts Box Office (Tel: 0118 960 6060).

Artists set to appear included Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba, Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, The Wonder Stuff, Patrick Duff, Toto la Momposina and Chase & Status featuring Plan B & Takura.

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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