GENESIS star Peter Gabriel has attacked the Government after being forced to cancel the festival he helped found.

The World of Music and Dance – WOMAD – festival has been called off just weeks before the event, which is held at Charlton Park, near Malmesbury in Wiltshire.

THE country's most important gathering of world music artists is the latest festival to cancel, citing lack of Government support.

WOMAD is a platform for new and traditional artists from around the world, playing everything from authentic roots music to electronica. It attracts huge names from Africa, Asia, the Americas and Europe, as well as homegrown talent.

This year's would have featured Nitin Sawnhey, Anoushak Shankar, The Selecter and Dhol Foundation.

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Solsbury Hill and Sledgehammer star Peter Gabriel said: “It is with great regret that we are cancelling WOMAD '21. Without the simple support of a government insurance scheme or the guarantee of Test Event status, we cannot continue and put WOMAD’s long term future at risk.

"We feel that our audience, artists, staff, and contractors, who have been amazingly supportive throughout all this, will understand the need for us to act to guarantee our survival."

Oxford Mail: Peter Gabriel. (AP Photo/Jeff Christensen)

Speaking on behalf of Mr Gabriel and the WOMAD team, a festival spokesman added: "Since the government decision to extend the Phase 3 restrictions to July 19, 72 hours before WOMAD should open its gates, we have been seeking urgent clarification from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport and Public Health England as to what this means for large scale events such as WOMAD.

"While the Prime Minister and his colleagues say there will be no restrictions on society at that point, we have been unable to get any confirmation of what the plan is. Nor is there any clarity on how what is being learned from the Event Research Program might affect the guidance for festivals and how they are required to operate.

"A few days after that extension, the DCMS sought applications from festivals taking place within that extension period to join the next stage of its Event Research Programme.

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"As WOMAD takes place after that period, we did not qualify. Subsequently and on hearing rumours that events outside that period had been granted Event Research Programme - Test Event status we immediately applied and contacted the DCMS and have had no response despite repeated requests.

"Latitude and Tramlines festivals have been granted Test Event status on the same weekend as WOMAD which clearly implies that only approved test events will be protected and guaranteed the right to go ahead as normal – even though this flies in the face of the Prime Minister’s statements.

"It is the lack of government backed insurance along with these actions that have forced WOMAD to cancel. We have not been asking for financial support; all we have wanted is certainty in the form of insurance against cancellation – that we’d be happy to pay for. We need an understanding of the realities of how our industry works and the benefits that we bring. The industry should see equal access to support and a much less opaque way of deciding who gets help."

Oxford Mail:

Referring to the disparities in the way sporting and cultural events are treated, they said: "It does seem a little bizarre that a five-day camping event at Silverstone is a risk worth taking and independent festivals alas are not. With 140,000 people attending the Silverstone Grand Prix it certainly doesn’t seem to be supported by science – as even Lewis Hamilton has commented.

"At WOMAD, we are indebted to our audiences, artists, and suppliers for the love and support we have received, which has only increased as we have tried to climb the mountain that kept growing in front of us.

"We hope you will continue to hang in there with us, and as for options of ticket refunds or roll-overs to 2022, we hope as many of you as possible will consider rolling your tickets over to join us next year."

Next year's event will take place from July 28-31.