Boris Johnson has come under fire after City Hall confirmed the Rise anti-racisim festival is to be scrapped after it was unable to secure a sponsor to fund the event.
The Mayor was criticised after the anti-racisim message was removed from last year’s event. There is speculation, denied by City Hall insiders, that this decision has made it impossible to secure funding for this year’s event.
Earlier today the Mayor’s office confirmed plans for a generic music event aimed at young Londoners. Rhythm of London will take place on 10-11 July and include performances from schools throughout the capital.
Commenting on the decision to cancel Rise, Green Party Assembly Member Darren Johnson said: “When the Mayor removed the festival’s anti-racist message last year sponsorship was always going to be harder to find, but I am extremely disappointed that one of London’s most entertaining and important cultural events will no longer be going ahead.”
Many critics of Johnson have been warning against a plan to cancel the event. The controversial ‘Forensic Audit Panel’ report prepared for Johnson shortly after he took office last year suggested: “There may also be scope for reviewing the list of events offered through Events for London; it is possible that a detailed critical analysis could generate substantial savings, particularly if entire events such as the ‘Rise Festival’ (which cost over £300,000) were cancelled”.
Former Mayor Ken Livingstone, who supported the event during his tenure, called the decision “a blow to good community relations in the city”
Livingstone added: “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 Johnson is now cancelling the festival altogether. But it is misleading for his administration to try to blame this on trade 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.”
“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 still-birth of the Mayor’s Fund and the loss of most sponsorship for the St Patrick’s Day festival, his claims that he will save tax payers’ money by bringing in outside sponsors have been shown to be just so much hot air.”
Unite regional secretary, Steve Hart, said the union, which has previously supported the event along with Unison, “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.
“After last year’s scandalous decision to remove the anti-racism message from promotional material for the Rise Festival and instead use the words ‘celebrating diversity’, Boris has now decided to take a hasty, short-sighted decision to stop the festival all together disappointing over 100,000 loyal followers.”
Labour Party 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. Who is going to sponsor a festival of nothing?”