Rise update 2

21 June 2008

The public sector union UNISON have removed funding from Rise festival this year after the change of emphasis removing the anti-racism festival message as noted here and here. UNISON said:

“As long as the anti-racist message is removed from the Rise festival, UNISON will have no part in funding it. London is a city of 270 nationalities. It is a city where different cultures should flourish, and racism should have no place. Sadly, on the streets of our capital many people face inequality, abuse and even violence on account of their race”

More here and here.

Rise Update

18 June 2008

Interesting updates to the Rise story provided by both the Mayor’s cultural adviser at the Guardian Comment is Free website, and an initial response to it by Dave Hill here which says:

There’s a proper debate to be had about anti-racism, multiculturalism and GLA arts funding, but I don’t think Mirza’s piece contributed much to it. Gratuitous swipes against Lee Jasper do not advance the case for change and neither do airy urgings to “trust the people.”

I’m not sure how “doing anti-racism for real” (for a few hours of festival) is compensation for an event which envouraged it for 365 days a year… The Tory Troll brings a more sinister angle here with the BNP’s response to dropping the anti-racism message.

Not sure if the issue was raised at Mayor’s Questions today but would like to find out



Rise up against… What?

16 June 2008

Dave Hill has pointed out that the anti-racism message of the Rise festival (which has been central to it since 1996) has been dropped by the Mayor of London… Which begs the question, what is it actually for?

In a city with such a wide range of people from different backgrounds something akin to community cohesion is vital. Ken Livingston was criticised for compartmentalising London’s communities. Boris Johnson seems to be focussing on everybody being Londoners. The trouble here is the contradictory arguments between equality and ignoring difference. Similarly it’s the contradiction in the idea of Compassionate Conservatism about allowing self-expression and self-organisation without making distinctions about different communities. (As a gay man my self-organised community is one which arose from a history of political oppression). Indeed if we follow the Compassionate Conservatism argument to it’s logical conclusion what is the role of the public sector in the un-purposeful Rise festival anyway?

Andrew Gilligan’s flippant argument in the Million Vote Mandate seems to deny that any problems exist: it’s colour blindness. This is a step back in equality from celebrating diversity to negating difference. It’s the kind of ’sweeping under the carpet argument’ that has the potential to surpress tension and contribute to greater problems in the future and shouldn’t be entered into lightly.

Rise is another example of the potential for a hands-off approach to ignore a fundamental role for governments, non-intervtionist but promotional, in a world where politicians no longer have control over a globalised economy and even essential services…

That, at least, is my opinion…

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