Sunday 17 July 2011

Little celebration in Brent this year

"Now, is Brent's strategy as good as mine was?"
Brent Council's Executive will tomorrow decide its policy on the funding of cultural events and festivals. Officers propose that the Council should stop funding any events that are not inclusive to all of Brent's diverse communities. Although the Council claims to be positive about the borough's diversity it will cease organising events for  Chunuka, St Patrick's Day, Eid, Diwali, LGBT Month and International Women's Day and will no longer fund Navratri or the Christmas lights.

Instead it proposes to organise one 'Brent Celebrates'  Event and to continue to provide fireworks night and Holocaust Memorial Day. I am still unclear how celebrating the failure of an attempt to blow up parliament and the burning of an effigy of a Catholic conspirator is 'inclusive to all Brent residents' - but there you go...

The report says that no major events were planned this financial year as this would have pre-empted the Council's decision. It also states that there is no time to programme any large events this year such as Respect, Countryside Day and Diwali because recruitment of specialist staff was put on hold pending the outcome of the report. No preparatory was has therefore taken place with communities and schools.

Officers suggest that this be treated as a 'transitional year; with a 'new inclusive programme' next year. They do suggest there could be some small scale events this year but these would have to take place within the reduced budget available.  With an eye on potential headlines they state that the Council is not stopping the celebration of any dates or events, and would be encouraging them - but these would have to be 'community led', which presumably also means community funded.

Before we all get too dreary, Brent whips its new all-purpose white rabbit out of the conjurers hat - cheer up everyone, the Civic Centre will save us all! From the summer of 2013 the Civic Centre's halls, galleries, garden and foyer will be able to host events for 'community and income generation purposes'. So there we are, Brent Council will be competing with the Wembley Arena. James Powney is going to be Brent's very own Simon Cowell

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