Heavenly Planet Festival’s debut has been scrapped because organizers are worried about staging the U.K. event in the current economic climate.
A month ago, Festival Republic chief Melvin Benn, WOMAD co-founder and former artistic director Thomas Brooman and Reading Borough Council – which first announced the new event last October – decided to make it a free festival but now it’s not happening at all.
It’s not clear if the festival has ended before it’s begun, as the statement announcing the cancellation only said the organizers intend planning for “possible festivals in future.”
Heavenly Planet would have been on a 15,000-capacity site by the River Thames at Reading Rivermead, where Benn stages Festival Republic’s 80,000-capacity Reading Festival. It’s also where Brooman, who was awarded the CBE for services to music and charity in this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours List, ran WOMAD for 17 years.
The debut was slotted for July 10-11 with a bill including Eliza Carthy, The Bays, The Fence Collective, Sharon Shannon Big Band, the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain and the Wonder Stuff.
“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,” Benn explained. “The worsening economic crisis and circumstances beyond our control have been major factors in the final decision.”
Reports suggest that Brooman was unable to commit to funding the event, which prompted the council and Festival Republic to throw in the towel.
Reading Council culture and sport head Graeme Hoskin said his authority was unable to put additional money into the event due to the economic slowdown.