Like many people I have watched with horror the news footage of the
terrorist attacks in New York and Washington. I have relatives in New York. But you do not
actually need to have been there to experience the horror. London has never seen terrorist
activity on this scale. But we do know about the fear terrorism can bring. I well remember
hearing the noise of the Canary Wharf explosion at home in Stoke Newington. Like everyone
my sympathy is with the people of New York and Washington.
As I write this article American politicians and military men are going on CNN and
hinting at retribution. And it may well be that by the time you read this there will have
been NATO air strikes on some Middle East country.
Everyone understands the desire of the American people for retribution. But the danger is
people will learn the wrong lesson from these attacks. If the only thing George W Bush and
Tony Blair can think of is to carpet bomb some hapless Third World country as a punishment
then the danger is that the Middle East and the world will be plunged into a further
downward spiral of violence. The terrorists who highjacked the planes are dead. Theirs was
a suicide mission. But, of course, if the Americans can identify the actual people who
helped plan and organise the operation they should be brought to justice. But arbitrary
bombing of a Middle Eastern country would be a mistake. The answer to the appalling
terrorism is not escalating the violence but a genuinely international approach. In
particular there has to be a resolution of the problems of the Middle East.
The terrorism in the USA has at least swept the asylum issue off the front page of the
tabloid papers. Readers of N16, who think that terrorism in New York is a little remote,
will accept that the issues raised by asylum seekers are very close to home. Both are very
emotive issues. And both would benefit from less knee-jerk reaction. And both raise the
issue that (in the words of the poet John Donne) no man is an island. For too long some
people in the West have believed that we can insulate ourselves from increasing poverty
and desperation in other parts of the world. The eighties saw a growing gap between the
rich and poor countries of the world. And globalisation is making matters worse. The
terrorism in the USA needs a considered response. So does the issue of asylum seekers.
Festival news? 'What', I hear you cry, 'but the festival isn't on again until next June!'
Would you believe that the festival office is already a hive of activity, busy fund
raising and planning for next year?
Well, it is, and I can tell you now that next year's Street Festival is on 16 June 2002.
So how did it go this year? 'Brilliant', 'best festival ever', so we've been told, though
shame about the torrential rain on two of our four weekends. Still, this being England,
rain on only half the festival isn't too bad! It seems the Main Stage in Clissold Park was
hugely popular, as was the extended use of the park generally on Street Festival Day.
The Abney Park Cemetery Weekend was a resounding success, as over 2000 people braved the
cemetery at night to experience the magic, beauty and dark humour of Rotozaza [World
Service]. People left the event in a mesmerised state, unable to fully adjust to reality
once they stumbled out onto Church Street, it was that powerful; unforgettable.
And did you see what some of those kids are capable of on skateboards? The debut of SK8
N16 sure did put a smile on a few thousand teenage faces, transforming Clissold Park into
a mad, bad, multi-media skate fest with great tunes, blinding visuals and some brilliant
skating. Well done to all the kids who took part in the competitions, and keep practising,
as SK8 N16 will hopefully be back in 2002.
Unfortunately huge free Street Festivals, weekends of beautiful after-dark art shows in
Abney Park and high-tech multi-media skateboard events have taken their toll on our
budgets, with many unexpected costs arising due to the scale of what we are doing. So much
so, that we now have a financial budget deficit which we are under pressure
to clear before the end of our financial year on 30 September.
To help us with this problem, we have decided to devise a game, called The Big Grid Game.
The Big Grid Game is a type of Lucky Dip, consisting of 225 Numbered Squares, each of
which will be sold at a price of 25 pounds. You could win dinner at a top restaurant,
scuba-diving classes, opera tickets, exclusive memberships, original artwork by festival
artists, an Access All Areas pass to every event at next year's festival or one of many
other amazing prizes donated by businesses and artists in and
around Stoke Newington. Everyone's a winner with The Big Grid Game though some prizes are
more valuable than others!
The Big Grid Game is live on the festival web site ( www.stokenewingtonfestival.co.uk)
so you can see which squares are available to buy, and view the full list of prizes
as well as who donated them. Alternatively, pick up a flyer around Stoke Newington or
phone 020 8356 6411 to play. The Big Grid Game is running until the 20th October, or until
all the squares are booked, at which point a live prize draw party will take place to
match Grid Square Numbers to prizes. Hurry if you want to be sure of getting your lucky
That's all for now, wrap up warm for the forthcoming winter and we'll see you next year
for the Stoke Newington Festival 2002.
020 8356 6411 Paul West Marketing Manager