Two more Croydon music and dance festivals forced to cancel

Croydon’s calendar year as London’s Borough of Culture has not quite finished, but its dubious legacy appears to be sealed in failure after not one but two established festivals announced that they won’t take place in 2024.

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Money troubles: Croydon Pride and the Croydon Mela have both cancelled in 2024

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Money troubles: Croydon Pride and the Croydon Mela have both cancelled in 2024

Croydon Pride posted an announcement this morning stating “with regret” that it has cancelled this summer’s event “due to a lack of funding combined with ever-increasing costs”.

The Croydon Mela, a day of south Asian music, dance and colour, had already pulled the plug on its 2024 staging.

The cancellations of the inter-dependent events ought to raise serious questions of Mayor Jason Perry and the Mayor of London’s culture team over some of the decisions made for the Borough of Culture’s more dubious, art-less projects, with some events being given tens of thousands of pounds and never even taking place.

Pride and the Mela had shared staging costs, and a weekend, in Wandle Park last July, when both had the help of £60,000 each in grants through the Mayor of London’s Borough of Culture. This year, sources have confirmed, there is no funding for Pride from Croydon’s cash-strapped council.

Last year another annual arts festival in the borough, the Crystal Palace Overground Festival, was also cancelled, the organisers saying that they were having a year-long pause to re-think their approach to that event.

Pride’s organisers are promising to be back in 2025, while also “partnering with local venues to run a series of events in Croydon for Pride month this year”, they said.

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Year’s end: today’s Croydon Pride announcement

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Year’s end: today’s Croydon Pride announcement

“In the meantime, we’ll be working on addressing our funding and internal governance…

“We’ll be back in 2025 for a fabulous PrideFest,” the statement, issued by Paula Goodwin, Croydon Pride’s chair, said.

The 2023 Croydon Pridefest was the sixth time the event had been staged.

Apart from Croydon Council as headline sponsors, last year’s festival listed only two “gold” tier sponsors, Think Events (who handle much of the rigging and set-up for the Wandle Park festival weekend) and Fat Beehive, a company run by former Labour councillor Mark “Marcus” Watson, who is also a trustee of Croydon Pride.

Pride had planned to stage a fund-raising and sponsor-attracting event in the town centre earlier this month, with live music acts, but that was also cancelled, too.

With London and Brighton both having large Pride marches and festivals, Croydon’s organisers find themselves in a crowded and increasing tough market for sponsors.

“It’s important that Croydon does have its own Pridefest,” a source told Inside Croydon today. “But to do that, we need to raise lots more money, and we also need more volunteers and trustees to come forward.”

Read more: How Croydon’s ‘Culture Club’ was turned into a business clique
Read more: £1.5m being spent on our Borough of not-very-much Culture
Read more: GLA has few checks on how £1.3m Culture grant is being spent

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