After seven years, organisers of Hackney WickED have pulled the plug on the popular arts festival, citing a lack of funding.
With ballooning costs and a growing audience, they have decided to put the funding they receive from Arts Council England, Crate Brewery, Here East and other sponsors into commissioning art instead.
They received £70,000 in funding last year from these sponsors.
Anna Maloney said: “We just thought, let’s do smaller events which are more manageable and we can continue to be dynamic, authentic and focused on art events, and provide an opportunity for artists in Hackney Wick and other areas.”
The art festival, which features local and burgeoning artists, drew 35,000 visitors over three days last year and was featured in city guide Time Out magazine. It has been held in August in Hackney Wick since 2008.
Maloney said: “We’ve had a really diverse number of sponsors and supporters, which we’re very grateful for. But in terms of the ratio of financial support and funding that we receive compared to the level the event requires, it’s just not viable to continue.”
A new festival has come to the neighbourhood, the Kopparberg Urban Forest, which will take place over a six-week period during the summer and is a commercial event. Maloney’s enthusiasm is reserved although she does not feel any animosity towards the newcomers.
She added: “We asked them if they had considered supporting local existing events but they find it easier to create their own. We are talking to them about providing content and artists opportunities over a weekend, to give local people opportunities.”
The organisers are not giving up. They hope to eventually bring the festival back as an art biennale. Maloney has called for festivalgoers to complete a survey by May 1, which will hopefully ensure the future of the festival.
She adds: “Our motto is ‘never give up!’”