I’m sure that, like me, you’ve been agog to see the line-up of exciting events promised for the Mayor’s Story Of London Festival . For the past month or so I’ve been collecting leaflets from various museums and other London attractions which have featured events with the Story Of London logo, and every couple of days I’ve been checking the Story Of London website in the hope that all the forthcoming events would be available to view. No such luck – until today, four days before the festival starts. Still, better late than never.

So, what delights can we in my own borough of Hounslow look forward to, as part of Boris and Munira’s pan-London festival? Oh. Nothing. So much for taking Boris’s version of culture to the outer London boroughs.

Not to worry, I see TfL’s London Loop in my in-box and I’m slightly surprised to see there’s a two-day Polish Festival in Trafalgar Square this weekend. I don’t remember seeing that listed on the GLA events calendar when I’ve been checking it every couple of days. I know, the GLA’s Trafalgar Square website will have full details…oh. Well, let’s try the link from the London Loop site. Nothing except the dates and the venue.

I remember Ken Livingstone was supportive of the Polish community and said in 2007 that he could see a Polish Festival in Trafalgar Square in a few years’ time. Last year, Boris Johnson spoke to the Federation Of Poles in Britain and the understanding was that the GLA provided the venue and the publicity for the proposed festival and the Warsaw Mickiewicz Institute would provide the content.

Now, no publicity on the GLA website or the venue website is bad enough but having been up and down to central London several times this week I can also say that, as with Boris’s previous events such as the St George’s Day concert, I have seen no posters in Underground stations or elsewhere and no leaflets at stations, as was the norm for any of the events sponsored by the previous GLA administration. It would seem that, as indicated during last year’s Mayoral elections, Boris Johnson is unwilling to fund all the community festivals sponsored by his predecessor and when he reluctantly agrees to continue with a reduced programme, he won’t spend money on publicising the events which inevitably results in under-participation by the public.

UPDATE: johnny v of the freelondlistings website informs us in the comments below that the Polish Festival isn’t happening, according to the Mayor’s Communications Officer.

17 Responses to GLA- Sponsored Festivals

  1. Tom says:

    Surely it’s a result of seeing marketing and PR as expendable functions – all those press officers who were going to be given the boot to fund rape crisis centres…hang on a minute…

  2. AdamB says:

    From this months written answers to MQT:

    “the following projects have seen a reduction in overall funding:

    London Mela (£30k reduction to £100k)
    Chinese New Year (£40k reduction to £100k)
    Thames Festival (£5k reduction to £60k)
    Carneval Del Pueblo (£15k reduction to £40k)
    Black History Month (£107k reduction to £25k. Note: £72k funds carried over to 2009/10)
    Simcha/Klezfest (£30k reduction to £20k. Note: new event proposed by community)

    The following projects have received an increase in their overall funding:

    New Years Eve (£64k increase to £1.6m)
    Liberty (£30k increase to £170k)
    Refugee Week (£3k increase to £10k)
    Russian Event (£25k increase to £65k)

    In addition to the above changes, new projects are being delivered, including Rhythm of London and Story of London.”

  3. Helen says:

    Planned publicity for the Story Of London festival: http://www.london.gov.uk/mayor/culture/docs/storyoflondon/minutes-20090508.rtf

    A Double Royal tube poster – let us know if you spot one!

  4. Helen says:

    Ah, but the Press Officers’ job is to promote Boris, hence he needed a whole Routemaster to transport them all for St George’s Day.

  5. Helen says:

    New Year’s Eve funding increased by £64 000 – is that to pay for the free travel that Boris failed to get sponsorship for last year?

  6. Helen says:

    Hansard, 23/7/81: http://tinyurl.com/nsg6gr

    “The Question was as follows:

    To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the £150,000 proposed to be spent by the Greater London Council on May Day activities will rank for grant from Government funds”

    “Lord Molloy.

    My Lords, would the noble Lord perhaps convey to his colleagues in the Government who might be responsible that they should get back some of the £9,000 million from the tax cheaters in the City and other places? This £150,000 is miniscule in comparison to that, which has been fiddled off the British public by tax evasion”

    Touché, Lord Molloy, et plus ça change…

  7. Wireman says:

    Questions and answers

    Q: What is the deadline for submission for the A5 guide?

    A: MP [Mark Prescott, Head of Cultural Campaigns] said the guide serves 3 purposes 1) as an editorial contextualisation of the festival as a whole 2) to give a flavour of the highlights of the festival 3) to push people to the website for further information. The guide has tried to include as many mentions of specific events where possible. However, the guide is less about individual listings and more about looking at the month as a whole.

    Yeah. But what’s the fecking deadline, you corporate cockend.

  8. Actually there is one Story of London event in Hounslow, although it’s nothing Boris-inspired. It’s a special weekend at the Musical Museum in Brentford… which was going ahead anyway.

    How poor is the official SoL website? It looks impressive, but it’s clogged up with un-special events and is wholly impractical to use. There are some real gems in there, especially over the first weekend, but I’ve already lost interest in hunting for them.

  9. Helen says:

    @diamond geezer – yes, you’re right, the Brentford event was just outside the Hounslow postcode area that I searched on the map. You’re right about the Musical Museum event being something that was already happening – this seems to be the case with many of the events, they were already scheduled and have just been tagged as Story Of London.

    My husband’s just checked with his Polish colleagues at work and this is the first they’ve heard about a Polish festival in Trafalgar Square.

  10. Helen says:

    My lack of Polish may be a hindrance, but I can’t spot any Trafalgar Square event listed in the online version of Polish weekly magazine Cooltura, as available in my local Polish coffee shop: http://elondyn.co.uk/cooltura

  11. johnny v says:

    Hi there

    I run the freelondonlistings website lined to in the post above.

    We received an email early in the year listing a schedule of GLA events which included the Polish Festival.

    After the London Loop linked to us, which prompted a lot of hits I thought best to contact the Mayors Office to confirm it was going ahead as we hadn’t received any further announcements on line up etc, which is unusual

    I received an email back from the Mayor’s Press Office which just said “Afraid not happening. ”

    I’d like to point out that this rather brief response did come from a Blackberry and the Mayors Comminications Officer did respond very promptly so this shouldnt really be counted as an official response from the Mayor’s office

    As to why its not going ahead I have no idea

  12. Helen says:

    Thanks for the info, johnny v! Very interesting, and what a shame. I went to Trafalgar Square this afternoon to see if there were any posters or anything – nothing. Now I know why.

  13. Helen says:

    Needless to say, on a trip from Waterloo to Oxford Circus by underground then bus from Oxford Circus to County Hall, I saw no publicity for The Story Of London.

  14. Helen says:

    I’ve had a closer look at the Story Of London website and it really is a hodge-podge of the sort of events that are already happening all over London, all the time. For example: “During the BFI Jazz and Film Weekender there’ll be chances to discover over 300 films and TV shows made in and around London for FREE throughout the weekend at the BFI Mediatheque” – yes, the BFI Mediatheque has been showing hundreds of films and TV programmes for FREE since it opened over two years ago, I was there for the opening day and I’ve watched much of the London archive material on many subsequent visits.

    I’m underwhelmed.

  15. [...] as Boriswatch points out this is something you can do everyday of the year [...]

  16. [...] Be afraid. Be very afraid. At today’s meeting, Munira was claiming that the lead-in for her June 2009 Story Of London “festival” wasn’t long enough as they only took over the mayoral administration in May 2008 and they needed at least a year to plan it. Now, Story Of London wasn’t announced until February 2009 and suffered from abysmal marketing. [...]

  17. [...] and, in the case of Rhythm Of London, last-minute cancellation of events. Covered on Boris Watch here, here, here and [...]

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