Gazette letters: Town Hall Takeover, academies, respectable clowns and extreme poverty

Shoreditch Town Hall (Picture: David Holt/Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0)

Shoreditch Town Hall (Picture: David Holt/Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0) - Credit: Archant

The first ever Town Hall Takeover takes place on October 29, writes James Pidgeon, deputy director of Shoreditch Town Hall.

The line-up includes a number of events from east London organisations such as Hackney Shed, Hackney Playbus and LandSky and there will be workshops and activities led by independent Hackney artists.

Whether you’re after hula hooping, storytelling, a disco for zero- to six-year-olds or just some dancing to live up-tempo Balkan and Turkish music, Town Hall Takeover has something for everyone as we throw open the doors. As a flagship venue for Hackney and our local community it’s incredibly important to produce such events as part our programme, welcoming people to the building from across the borough, as well as from further afield. It’s brilliant to have so many local organisations and Hackney-based artists involved.

It is outrageous that Hackney Council is looking to turn all the schools in Hackney into academies (“Union’s anger as council eyes mass academy plan”, Gazette, September 29), writes Samir Jeraj, Hackney Green Party.

I’m surprised and disappointed Hackney Council under Labour is adopting a policy even the Tories dropped.

There is little to no evidence that academies do any better. Good teachers, leadership and decent funding make schools a success.

As recently as June, 119 academies were removed from their sponsors, and academy chains have a track record of awarding huge pay increases to their CEOs while paying teachers and staff as little as they can get away with.

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With the Tory government wanting to bring back grammar schools, now more than ever we need to defend good local and accountable schools for all children.

I have spent 45 years dressing up as a clown and brightening up lives and society and it’s upsetting when idiots spoil it for the majority of people who want to have fun, writes Mattie Faint, curator, Clowns’ Gallery, Cumberland Close, Dalston.

It hurts me so much when people have a quest to be nasty to everyone.

The “killer clowns” craze has got nothing to do with clowning, and it’s very difficult to rub out because you can make 1,000 masks an hour and sell them in 300 countries around the world.

Social media is a globalisaton of products and ideas and it’s unhealthy.

It spreads beyond all boundaries and you can’t put the genie back in the box – so we’ll just have to see what happens but the damage is done for every child who has experienced it.

Believe me – the thousands upon thousands of children I have entertained in my career have gone away really happy.

The clown is such an important aspect of our culture and our life. It’s someone who is able to create fun for children and is lovely.

There are always one or two people who just don’t like clowns.

I’ve done interviews with child psychologists that children are afraid of all sorts of things at all sorts of ages – if it’s big, it’s bright, it’s loud and it moves too fast they might be scared. A clown falls into that category.

People with clown phobias have had a bad experience with clowns. When the museum was in the All Saints Centre we shared the building with other groups, and one of the ladies who was in her 60s wouldn’t come anywhere near the museum. She wouldn’t even look in the door. She was chased home from school when she was five by someone wearing a mask of a clown you could cut off the back of a cornflakes packet. It freaked her out and she had coulrophobia – a fear of clowns.

I worked it through with her. I thought: I’m going to get her past this. So I let her watch me make up, and she was fine with me. She was in her 60s – that’s 55 years of this fear of clowns.

I am a young member of the Hackney community and I am writing to you regarding international day for the eradication of extreme global poverty on Monday, writes Charlotte Williamson, Hackney, UK youth ambassador for the ONE Campaign.

It is important to help people see the issue of extreme poverty is as relevant locally as globally. October 17 is a chance not only to consider challenges faced by millions of people in their daily lives, but to celebrate the progress we have made – the number of people living on less than $1.90 was more than halved between 1990 and 2010.

I know people in Hackney care about taking action in the fight against extreme poverty. When killer diseases such as Ebola strike, or huge numbers of refugees flee terror and famine, it’s our aid and support that will help people in need.

Our MP Diane Abbott is equally passionate about contributing to international aid and making a meaningful difference.