BBC axes Radio 3 Awards for World Music

The BBC is axing the Radio 3 Awards for World Music, after seven years of holding the event that attracted the involvement of stars including the actor Johnny Depp and the musician Damon Albarn.

Radio 3, which ran the awards, today confirmed the event was to be scrapped, insisting it was "time to develop a new direction [for] its world music coverage and to develop new plans beyond the awards". The spokeswoman denied that cost savings were a factor.

This means that last year's ceremony, held in April at the north London music venue Dingwalls, followed by a winners' concert at the Albert Hall later that year, was the last.

Over the years, the event has attracted the cream of the world music fraternity, with American singer-songwriter Ry Cooder and Indian-British musician and composer Nitin Sawhney among the winners.

The first ceremony in 2002 was notable for the presence of Depp, who presented the troupe of Romanian Roma musicians Taraf de Haidouks with the award for the Europe/Middle East category.

Albarn and the late Clash frontman Joe Strummer also gave out prizes at the same event in what turned out to be one of Strummer's last public appearances.

The awards, which were set up in 2002 to raise the profile of world music, attracted praise for Radio 3 controller Roger Wright who continues to programme world music and jazz.

A Radio 3 spokeswoman said the awards had served their purpose of increasing the profile of the genre, adding: "Many of those who were nominated and won awards over the past seven years, such as Nitin Sawhney, Baaba Maal and Taraf de Haidouks, have become major stars in their own right."

The network's "commitment to broadcasting world music remains the same," she added.

This includes Radio 3's weekly world music programmes such as World on 3 and World Routes and world music broadcasts on the programme Late Junction. Radio 3 also broadcasts the world music festival Womad, and this year will once again host its own stage at the festival.

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BBC axes Radio 3 Awards for World Music

This article was first published on guardian.co.uk at 16.25 GMT on Friday 20 March 2009. It was last updated at 17.33 GMT on Friday 20 March 2009.

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