On Friday 27th June, roughly 200 people, of all ages and from all sorts of different backgrounds and communities gathered in Middlesbrough Town Hall Crypt, to enjoy music performed by local young people, the Tees Valley Afro-Women’s Creative Group Choir (as seen live on BBC1), the excellent Teesside Roma Band, and the very cool indeed producer, songwriter and singer, Don-E.
The atmosphere was friendly and harmonious, the talent on display was absolutely uplifting, and a good time was had by all.
On Saturday 28th June, we were due to present the WorldFest Gala Night, with performers from Zimbabwe, Sudan and from the British reggae dub scene. However – as many of you will know – our planned event coincided with the EDL march through the town, which started off from, and returned to, a bar directly opposite the Town Hall.
As the day wore on it became clear that there could quite possibly be unwelcome encounters between EDL supporters on one side of the street and our musicians and audience on the other. The Police expressed their concerns for public safety, given the nature of WorldFest, its aims and the people who would be likely to attend.
Thus, with great regret, we took the decision to cancel the event, and we offer heartfelt apologies to anyone who turned up hoping to have a good time with us, only to have to go elsewhere or to return home.
We are really sorry about this, and clearly it is a huge shame.
We hope that we will be able to reschedule the event for a later date, and we hope that we will then be able to recreate some of the lovely atmosphere of Friday’s Youth and Community Event, and to bring top-line diverse artistes to Teesside.
Free speech is an important thing and must be defended – unfortunately that right has had a very sad knock on effect for us on this occasion – but we sincerely hope that people will be able to join with us again in the future, to celebrate the joy of being alive, and to share that joy with others from the big and beautiful wider world.
TVA is a participatory arts organisation, based in Middlesbrough and working across the Tees Valley, helping people change and improve their lives by taking part in the arts. TVA is a small organisation which makes a big impact in imaginative and unexpected ways.