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Festival axed by Boris to return to Finsbury Park

PUBLISHED: 13:11 28 September 2010 | UPDATED: 11:13 14 October 2010

A FREE anti-racism festival that was axed last year by Mayor of London Boris Johnson is set to return to Finsbury Park this weekend.

A FREE anti-racism festival that was axed last year by Mayor of London Boris Johnson is set to return to Finsbury Park this weekend.

A campaign to resurrect the Rise festival after the Mayor axed its grant will reap its reward on Sunday with the staging of its successor, UpRise.

Up-and-coming stand-up comedian Imran Yusuf will host the event, while hip-hop artist and Mecury Music Prize nominee Ty will return to the stage after performing at the last Rise in 2008.

The campaign was started by two Finsbury Park residents, Mike Barnard and Freya van Lessen, of Bolton Walk, who collected a 3,000-signature petition and won support from the likes of rap star Roots Manuva, comedian and activist Mark Thomas and Jeremy Corbyn, Labour MP for Islington North.

Mr Barnard, 28, who works in marketing, said: "It's a very exciting time. A dedicated team of volunteers have come together to bring this festival about. We're just keen to get to Finsbury Park, get set up and have a great day for everyone to enjoy.

"I think really it's us reclaiming a festival that's for the people and giving it back to people. We're really looking forward to celebrating London's diversity."

The organisers originally petitioned Boris Johnson to reinstate the festival, which was run by City Hall, but when their bid was rejected they decided to organise it themselves, dubbing it UpRise.

They raised £20,000 and are hoping to draw 20,000 people to the celebration of London's multiculturalism. Mr Barnard added: "This is the first of what we hope will be many festivals."

The last Rise event, in 2008, attracted 100,000 people and was headlined by reggae legend Jimmy Cliff and Brazilian electro-rockers CSS.

But last year the Mayor called off the event, which had become Europe's largest anti-racism festival, citing a lack of sponsorship.

Critics blamed the lack of sponsors on his decision to scrap its anti-racism message, which caused trade unions Unite and Unison - its main backers - to pull out.

With the anti-racism message reinstated, the unions are back on board. Ken Livingstone, who supported the festival during his tenure as Mayor, said: "Every single nation on earth is represented in London, and it works. If I am lucky enough to be Mayor in 2012, I will provide funding for UpRise to help it grow."

The event runs from 12.30pm to 7.30pm.


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