Right, that’s it, Greenwich’s longest running festival has been cancelled. I know that conspiracy theories have been floated to the effect that the council are withdrawing support from community events as part of the cuts blame game, but as the organisers of the event acknowledged on the in the meantime radio show, the council has to make the vulnerable a priority now.
The fact that this event has been going since 1978 only to be stopped now just goes to show how severe the cuts are; and as one of the important elements of ‘social glue’ that binds the fabric of Plumstead society together, the make merry’s loss is also our loss.
Despite this, the rallying of local people to bring back the festival in 2012 has already begun, and a benefit gig on the evening of the 16th of April at Plumstead Pavilion has been arranged as the first step on the way to the future. According to the newsshopper report, the council have offered to try and help with applying for lottery funding, as they begin to concentrate investments in potentially lucrative projects such as the forthcoming greenwich summer sessions.
Here’s the full statement from the organisers:
It is with great disappointment and regret that the organising committee for the Plumstead Make Merry have to announce that there will not be a Make Merry on Plumstead Common this year. Due to central government cuts in local authority funding, Greenwich Council have been forced to cut the funding on which the Make Merry has depended on for its infrastructure. The committee is made up of local people who all volunteer their time and efforts for free, we do not make a profit, and proceeds from our tea tent and stalls are spent on staging, marquees, sound equipment and on providing free activities for children.
The Plumstead Make Merry has been held on Plumstead Common every year for the last 32 years. It is the most eagerly awaited local event, and the longest running event in the borough. Last year, over 6,000 people visited the festival. We, the Plumstead Make Merry Committee are devastated that there will not be a festival this year, and we know that we are not alone in this feeling.
The Plumstead Make Merry is an important event in the community calendar. We provide a unique opportunity for local charities, voluntary organisations and small businesses to raise awareness of the services, products, information, advice and guidance that they have to offer. As well as this, the Plumstead Make Merry strives to ensure that everyone in our diverse community has the opportunity to be involved. Our funding cut will have an impact on everyone that lives in Plumstead, and beyond.
The Plumstead Make Merry is a celebration of our vibrant, talented and diverse community and will be a great loss to thousands of people. Generations of families have attended the event but due to our lack of funding will not be able to do so this year. The summer of 2011 in Plumstead won’t be the same this year without the Plumstead Make Merry.
However, we will rise above the cuts. We could spend our time and energy complaining about the cuts and campaigning against them – but we won’t, there are many other cuts happening within the borough and nationally, instead, we are dedicated to ensuring that a Make Merry will take place next year. We are appealing to you, the community, to help us.
Throughout the year we will be fundraising and making sure that the Plumstead Make Merry stays in the hearts and minds of local people. Don’t forget the Make Merry, it’s an event put on by local people for local people, it is your celebration of our community.
We are determined to show that the community is bigger than the cuts, and that we can survive. We appeal to everyone to support our fundraising events so that the 2012 Plumstead Make Merry will go ahead, whatever happens with the budget cuts.
We have a great night of entertainment planned for Saturday 16th April 2011 when the ‘Benefit Bash for the Plumstead Make Merry’ will take place in the Greenwich Rugby Club Pavilion on Plumstead Common, (Old Mill Road, London, SE18). Entry will cost just £5 at the door and all proceeds will go towards supporting the festival. There will be live music, karaoke, disco and fun and games. The fun starts at 7:30pm, and we hope to see you all there!
The next event is on Saturday 11th June 2011 – the day the Plumstead Make Merry was due to take place. It will also take place at the Greenwich Rugby Club Pavilion on Plumstead Common, and for a small donation of £5 you can expect a day and evening of non-stop entertainment.