Following extensive community and stakeholder consultation Trust Thamesmead has decided that a high profile, one day summer festival based on the format of previous years will not take place in 2010.
The decision, which was taken by the Trust's Board of Trustees, has been based on a comprehensive evaluation of last year's event which clearly indicated a widespread feeling that the festival had become too big and had outgrown its original purpose as a local celebratory event for Thamesmead residents.
Trust Thamesmead Board Chair Vic Grimes said: “In the current economic climate we are no longer able to justify the very high cost of this one-day event, and in particular, the money we spend on entertainment and security. Our resources are limited and rather than spend so much on a single event we feel we can contribute more to the local community by helping to deliver many more smaller events in Thamesmead throughout the year.
“We did not take this decision alone. It was reached after undertaking a comprehensive evaluation and consultative process with local residents and the statutory services. We will continue to talk with our local communities in their own neighbourhoods to address their own priorities and we remain committed to working with them and our partners to continue to deliver a range of activities throughout the year in Thamesmead.”
The Trust's Community Forum, which represents many sectors of the local community, has endorsed this decision and supports the idea of smaller locality based events that are driven by local people.
Forum spokeswoman Mrs Angela Colman, from Thamesmead Christian Fellowship, said: “As a member of the forum I believe one of our aims is to invest in positive activities that will benefit the whole community. When the costs and outcomes associated with the festival were considered it was believed that we could do better by working with groups and communities to help them deliver what they wanted at a local level.”
The Trust's Head of Community Development, David Stone, said: “The Community Forum has the potential to bring together groups and individuals to network and share ideas as well as to get involved in our events programme. In offering our plans and projects to an open discussion we will be challenged on some of our assumptions and, where relevant, we will be able to adapt some of our activities to better reflect the needs of local people.”
In order to achieve this change of direction the Trust has established an internal working group to oversee the development of an events and activities programme that has already begun to emerge through wider community consultation and engagement.
In broad terms it is anticipated that, by working more closely with others, this will result in the delivery of a series of activities spread out across the year, rather than all bunched up during the summer months, all having the underlying intention of strengthening the Trust's relationships with local communities and groups and designed to help the Trust achieve its charitable objectives.
The decision to replace the festival with smaller scale events means that the Trust's annual talent show The T Factor will also cease in its present form as David Stone explained: “Arts and culture events in Thamesmead are currently being delivered on an ad hoc basis with no co-ordinated long term strategy in place for them. There needs to be a more sustainable approach that reflects Thamesmead's diversity and doesn't concentrate solely on a very narrow definition of performing arts but the much wider arts and culture spectrum.
“The Trust's multi-million pound project at the Southern Arches in Harrow Manor Way will see the provision of a range of facilities that will encourage this development and we also hope to work with both local authorities to encourage a wider range of delivery in both local schools and the wider community.”
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