Europe’s biggest anti-racist festival axed by Boris Johnson

April 8, 2009 4:56 pm

Author:

Share this Article

From LabourListRise

Boris Johnson today announced that London’s anti-racist festival Rise, which brought 100,000 Londoners together each year to celebrate music from around the world, is to be scrapped. He cited a lack of union sponsorship for the event.

The announcement follows Johnson’s decision last year to remove the anti-racist element of the festival.

Rise, formerly the Respect festival, was established and sponsored by the trades unions as part of their work to combat racism and the far-right. It soon became the capital’s biggest annual free concert under Ken Livingstone, attracting artists including the Buzzcocks, Common, Jimmy Cliff, Run DMC, Graham Coxon, The Wailers, De La Soul and Kelis, as well as promoting diverse music from London’s Asian communities.

On the decision to scrap the event, former Mayor Ken Livingstone said:

“It’s a blow to good community relations in the city. There is now a clear pattern of Boris Johnson cutting funding to events celebrating the contributions of different communities to London and promoting good community relations. And, as with the loss of most sponsorship for events like the St Patrick’s Day festival and Freewheel, his claims that he will save tax payers’ money by bringing in outside sponsors have been shown to be just so much hot air.”

“Rise was the biggest anti-racist festival in Europe and on that basis attracted significant sponsorship. It lost much of this when Boris Johnson dropped the central anti-racist message last year. It is no surprise that Boris Johnson is now cancelling the festival altogether.”

“But it is misleading for his administration to try to blame this on trades unions withdrawing sponsorship, when sponsors had signed up to an anti-racist festival and obviously saw no reason to fund an event with no coherent message.”

Labour Assembly member, Jennette Arnold, said:

“The festival embodied all that is good about London, bringing people of all ages and cultures together. It was a celebration of London for Londoners – something Boris just doesn’t get. It’s no great surprise the Mayor couldn’t find a sponsor for the event, given that he had already got rid of all its meaning.”

Steve Hart, Regional Secretary for Unite, a former sponsor of the event, said:

“After last year’s scandalous decision to remove the anti-racism message from promotional material, Boris has now decided to take a hasty, short-sighted decision to stop the festival all together, disappointing over 100,000 loyal followers. The Mayor should promote a festival that celebrates London’s diversity and sends a strong anti-racist message.”

Commenting on Johnson’s claim that he couldn’t find the requisite sponsorship, Hart continued:

“Unite was never approached by the London Mayor, or by any of his staff in the run-up to this decision. Unite is calling for the London Mayor to work with the union to devise new strategies to combat racism and reconsider his decision to cancel the Rise Festival 2009.

Meanwhile, Linda Perks, UNISON Regional Secretary, another former sponsor, said:

“The London mayor is passing the buck for the festival’s cancellation. The real story here is that Boris Johnson is not interested in working to put an end to the racism and prejudice that sadly still take place on the streets of our capital every day.”

Comments are closed

Latest

  • Comment Going for the student vote: Postgraduates matter more

    Going for the student vote: Postgraduates matter more

    In a politics dominated by efforts to chase the grey vote it is nice to see a bit of electoral competition at the other end of the generational divide. As Labour weighs up what to do about tuition fees it might seem that a big offer to students could yield important gains next year at the general election, as well as shoring up any post-2010 support tempted to return to the Lib Dem fold. 40.5% of students voted Lib Dem […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Independence won’t deliver for Scottish women

    Independence won’t deliver for Scottish women

    As the referendum debate in Scotland picks up pace, there is an increased focus on how women will vote. So far, it would seem that women in Scotland are steadfastly resisting Salmond’s overtures. It’s no surprise, given that his central offer for more childcare has been dismissed by the experts, and women are starting to understand that the SNP are being led by polls and not principles. Women are asking why, if the SNP’s commitment to equal representation is real, […]

    Read more →
  • News Weekly survey: Cost of living, elections and devolution

    Weekly survey: Cost of living, elections and devolution

    Average wages are set to rise faster than prices – so is there still a cost of living crisis? Ed Balls says there is, the Tories are arguing that there isn’t. What do you think? And with the European and local elections coming up next month – how much campaigning is going on in your area? And when were you last out on the doorstep? Also in our survey – Ed Miliband has pledged to devolve at least £20 billion to be […]

    Read more →
  • News Labour have a mini reshuffle

    Labour have a mini reshuffle

    Labour have had a very mini pre-Easter reshuffle, with two new role announced. Thomas Docherty, formerly Angela Eagle’s PPS, has become Shadow Deputy Leader of the House, while Angela Smith moves from that position to become a Shadow Environment minister. Congratulations to both on their new roles.

    Read more →
  • News Tory housing shambles: Over budget and behind schedule

    Tory housing shambles: Over budget and behind schedule

    It’s no secret that Britain faces a housing crisis – and new figures show David Cameron’s big plan to “Get Britain Building” is turning out to be an abject failure. The Get Britain Building fund was launched in November 2011 by then-Housing Minister Grant Shapps, who announced £400 million to build 16,000 homes over the next three years. Cameron then relaunched the project in March 2012, with the cost soaring to £570 million and the deadline extended to March 2015. […]

    Read more →