Belfast Telegraph

Derry's WOMAD festival plans scrapped over cash fears

By Donna Deeney

A major music, arts and dance festival scheduled to be a key event during Londonderry's City of Culture year is not going to go ahead.

The Culture Company says the financial risks of bringing the WOMAD festival to Derry is too great — despite claims that the festival could generate £15m for the local economy.

Last April WOMAD declared its intention to hold the festival in Derry during 2013 and bring 500 international artists to perform.

The WOMAD festival regularly attracts upwards of 50,000 people to the host location.

No-one from the Culture Company was available to comment.

But in a statement it said: “Several months ago the Culture Company Board asked WOMAD for a feasibility study into hosting their festival here. A sub-group of the board was then established to consider this proposal.

“It found that, on the basis of the feasibility study the financial risk of hosting the festival to Culture Company, as sole funders, was too high. Seeds has been made aware of this decision and fully accepts it.”

It is believed that it would have cost around £1m to bring the festival to Derry in August.

However, the All Ireland Fleadh will also be held in the city around the same time, and it is believed this played a part in the decision to abandon plans for WOMAD.

Seeds was one of the organisations behind the plans to bring WOMAD to Derry. Following a meeting between the two groups the board of directors of Seeds accepted the decision.

In a statement the board said: “Having met with the Culture Company and discussed WOMAD’s feasibility study the board of Seeds do not believe that they would be in a position to financially support the festival.”

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness yesterday expressed his disappointment.

Background

The WOMAD — World of Music, Arts and Dance — festival brings together artists from all over the globe. It was founded by singer Peter Gabriel in 1982 and is a celebration of world music, arts and dance. There have been over 160 WOMAD events in 27 countries. Organisers say its aim is to create awareness of the potential of a multi-cultural society.

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