‘We’ll be back!’ as organisers abandon 2023 festival plans

There is to be no Crystal Palace Festival this year, the organisers said in a shock announcement last night in which they expressed the hope that they can secure the necessary funding for a return in 2024.

Rattling the buckets: after 11 years, the Crystal Palace Festival is considering its future

“It’s time to take a break and take stock,” said Alexander Credé, the Festivals’ co-chair.

The 2022 Crystal Palace Festival was staged last September, but there had been radio silence about any plans for this year until last night, when an email to Festival supporters broke the news of the decision.

First staged in 2011, then as the Crystal Palace Overground Festival, the charity-led volunteer organisers had managed to stage their free, multi-arts Festival every year, even “virtually” during covid lockdown in 2020, only having taken a one-year break in 2016.

But it doesn’t take much reading between the lines of the statement issued last night to realise that finding funding for the Crystal Palace Festival has become a massive challenge.

“The funding landscape around us has changed so much,” Credé said.

Inside Croydon has learned that a Crystal Palace Festival grant application to Croydon as part of the 2023 Borough of Culture was rejected. But that is not the only reason that the Festival is not going ahead this year – Croydon is just one of five boroughs which converge on the Crystal Palace area.

After winding up the Festival’s original Community Interest Company, its interests are now managed by a charity called the Great North Wood Collective.

Radio silence: there is no news on the Crystal Palace Festival website

Their most recent set of accounts (to the end of August 2022) show they had total income of £135,000 – almost double their income from the previous financial year.

Around half of that 2021-2022 income came in the form of grants – the accounts don’t specify from where – of £72,000.

But changes in policies by the Arts Council, with it channeling more funding outside London, is thought to have hit the Crystal Palace Festival hard, while their income from local businesses in 2022 was down by two-thirds, as the private sector was affected by the cost of living crisis.

“After many years of providing successful, free community music events in the Crystal Palace Park, the charity has decided to take stock of its aims amid the current economic situation,” the statement said.

Last year, the Festival moved from its usual June date, making way for the large-scale summer music festivals being staged in the revitalised Crystal Palace Park as its Trust expands on its commercial activities. The Crystal Palace Festival also moved on to the high street and green spaces around the Triangle, seeking greater engagement with the local community, while outreach events were also staged with schools in the area.

“Everyone is enormously proud of what the charity has achieved up to this point and we know what it means to the community that we have been able to provide these creative opportunities,” Credé said.

“We fully intend to return in 2024 after this period of consultation and redevelopment.

“The needs of the community are still significant. We need to consult with our community about where we go next and how we fund the future.”

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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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