Rebranded UpRise festival could become a permanent Hackney fixture

The capital’s long-standing anti-racism music festival that was axed by Boris Johnson may become a regular fixture in the Hackney calendar after last weekend’s Dalston event was such a success.

The original Rise festival was held in Finsbury Park since 1996 until Boris Johnson decided it would no longer carry an antiracism message during his first year as Mayor in 2008.

The following year the festival was abandoned altogether because of lack of sponsorship.

But renamed UpRise, the festival made a comeback on Sunday in Dalston, thanks to the tireless efforts of the not-for-profit arts collective BrazenBunch.

Over 3,000 people joined the ‘Community Is Home’ themed trail around 14 Dalston locations, encouraging them to view their local area, and also the planet, as home.

A paint-by numbers Peace Mural commissioned by UpRise was painted by visitors in Gillett Square, where people also painted their feelings on a giant Art Washing Line.

Dozens of workshops for all ages were staged, including hand drumming, soap carving, animation and Indian Kathak dancing, while visitors were asked to pedal bikes to provide the power for a “human library” at the WWII bunker in Abbott Street.

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Director Paul Richards said: “Prejudicial views derive from a deep rooted history, and sadly, racism still very much blemishes our society daily.

“Only by open discussion will we all be able to move toward peace and respect, and resign racism to the history books where it belongs, once and for all.”

The idea had been to move the festival around the capital in forthcoming years but Mr Richards said people liked the Hackney location so much, it could remain a regular fixture.

“A lot of people said they preferred the community set-up rather than a festival in a park, so we probably still keep it in Hackney next year, perhaps moving it back into the park one year and into the community the following year,” he added.