Island News

Thousands to see anti-racist festival RISE again

Written By : SUN FIJI NEWSROOM. A REBIRTH of anti-racist musical festival axed by Mayor Boris Johnson will take place in Haringey today following a passionate campaign led by Finsbury
02 Oct 2010 12:00

Written By : SUN FIJI NEWSROOM. A REBIRTH of anti-racist musical festival axed by Mayor Boris Johnson will take place in Haringey today following a passionate campaign led by Finsbury Park residents.
Thousands of people are expected to flock to Green Flag Finsbury Park for the UpRise Festival to carry on the message of its predecessor Rise set up in 1996 in the wake of the murder of teenager Stephen Lawrence.
Initially known as Respect, Rise grew to became one of Europe’s largest free musical festivals, drawing crowds from across the world united in a stand against racism with big names like reggae artist Jimmy Cliff, cult-status rappers Run DMC, Roots Manuva, Fun Lovin’ Criminals and the Asian Dub Foundation.
Its popularity led former London mayor Ken Livingstone to adopt Rise as one of the capital’s official events, but immediately following the 2008 elections, his successor sparked outrage by stripping the festival of its historic anti-racist ethos in favour of a wider celebration of diversity.
Mr Johnson then axed the event in April 2009 entirely citing it was a poor use of the public money and instead created Rhythm of London – a collection of small music events for young people.
The move triggered two Finsbury Park residents, flatmates Mike Barnard and Freya van Lessen, to create UpRise, a campaign to get the festival reinstated backed by more than 3,500 signatures including MPs David Lammy, Jeremy Corbyn, Chuka Umunna and GLA member Jennette Arnold.
When that failed, the pair decided to stage the event themselves with a team of volunteers of just ten core members and the hard work has now paid off.
Mr Barnard, who works full-time in marketing, said: “UpRise is now a festival by the people for the people. It is not political and we want to keep it that way so it cannot be taken away from Londoners at the drop of the hat.
“When we started UpRise we were encouraged by the strength of feeling Londoners had for Rise and were determined to do what we could to get it back. It was a well-loved event and now we can carry on its spirit because its message still rings true.”
He added: “It is great to be part of something that, hopefully, Londoners will be able to enjoy over the coming years.”
Up to 9000 music lovers are expected to pass through the gates of Finsbury Park although according to the terms of the licence granted by Haringey Council only 3,000 people can be in the park at any one time.
On the main stage will be acts including Soothsayers, United Vibrations and an acoustic set from Natty and local artists will have an opportunity to perform on the community stage. A DJ tent will be erected with a set from DJ Ordio Kid, from the Urban Nerds.
l The Independent


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