The CP Overground Festival is special. It’s special because it states a mission – “to be a gateway to arts and culture in Crystal Palace and a source of community cohesion and participation” – and then it smashes it out the park, all the while remaining free. FREE! Free events all week, culminating in one big, fat free event in our glorious local park that makes us truly proud of our area. Arts and culture? Tick. Community cohesion? Tick. I think we can agree CP Overground smashed it IN the park too.
The organisers work tirelessly to keep the event free. Talk to them and you’ll see its freeness is something they’re desperate to protect. And yet they struggled this year and finished thousands of pounds short of breaking even. Clearly the festival needs to break even to guarantee its future, so this is a problem for all of us. The main reason it didn’t get over the line was because it didn’t get enough financial support from local businesses. Some, yes, but not all. This is obviously tough, because many local business benefit greatly from the festival. It’s fair to say the Crystal Palace economy got a week long shot in the arm in June. Presumably one that it would like again next year. Try stepping into your local pub and asking the manager what their record week was so far this year. Their answer won’t surprise you.
So it’s clear that local businesses should give more. I’m sure they’ll be encouraged to do so as part of the campaign for next year and I’m sure they’ll step up. There’s an even more pressing issue: plugging this year’s money hole. If this year’s accounts can’t finish all square we can kiss goodbye to next year. So let’s fix this. There are two ways:
1) Get on the Crowdfunder campaign and donate. We shouldn’t need rewards for doing so, but there are rewards. Do it. Get on there right now. They’re looking for £8,000 and are less than half way there. Honestly my CP brothers and sisters, if we don’t make sure they get there, it’s just not good enough.
2) My company was one of those that benefitted from the festival. Big time. It seemed like every third person I saw had a Gipsy Hill pint in their hands. A percentage of that went to the festival, sure, but as one of the main beneficiaries, we need to do more. That’s why, at our annual birthday party tomorrow, we’ll be giving one pound from every pint sold to the festival. Please come down and join us for what promises to be a proper locals party with local food, music and drink. All in the name of keeping our beloved local festival going. The CP Overground volunteers will be collecting donations too. If you didn’t donate towards this year’s festival, here’s your chance. Do it!
Think on this. The festival organisers state one of their objectives as making Crystal Palace a unique and exciting place to live and visit. As a local resident who has lived in many areas in London that have little or no identity at all, I’m immensely proud to live somewhere unique and exciting. Any organisation seeking to bolster this deserves my support. It deserves all of our support. Let’s keep the festival going and let’s keep it free.
Charlie Shaw, a local and co-founder of Gipsy Hill Brewing Co.