Unions sever links with London festival

For eight years the office of the London Mayor has supported the Rise festival. The festival was established initially as the Respect festival in the years after the murder of Stephen Lawrence. The festival’s purpose was to emphasise diversity and respect. It became one of the most popular festivals in the UK. However the new Mayor Boris Johnson has decreed that ‘anti-racism’ should be dropped from the festival title.In a statement issued to trade unions last week, Boris Johnson’s Director of Cultural Policy said that it was ‘no longer appropriate to have overtly political campaigning groups involved’.The trade union Unison has withdrawn its £25,000 sponsorship in response, while the TUC has also withdrawn support from the festival stating that money earmarked for anti-racism will be beter spent elsewhere, while RISE has become just another music festival.UNISON General Secretary, Dave Prentis, 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.

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