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Grenfell Tower fire: Organisers postpone Portobello Rising arts festival

It was to to take place at Acklam Village on July 15, but the venue is being used as a secure space and donation point following the fire

A festival due to take place in Notting Hill has been postponed because of the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

Portobello Rising was due to take place on July 15 beneath the Westway flyover in Acklam Village, and include music, film, theatre, spoken word and art.

In the immediate aftermath of the fire, organisers decided to go ahead with the event, saying: “We recognise the need to bring people together in solidarity and recognition of the resilient Portobello spirit.”

Portobello Rising will now take place at an date yet to be set later this summer(Image: UGC TMS)

But it has now announced a change of mind, saying a decision has been made to postpone to an unspecified date later this summer.

The festival was organised by Westway Trust and young people in the area, to support artists under the age of 30 from west London and beyond.

It was to feature a line-up of new and established talent handpicked by local young producers, and include grime MC Big Zuu, hiphop from The Age of L.U.N.A, trip-hop inspired electronica from Babeheaven and rising stars from the Hip Hop Shakespeare Company.

However, since the devastating blaze ripped through Grenfell Tower on June 14, killing at least 80 people, Acklam Village, off Portobello Road, has been used as a safe space, and donation point for the affected community.

Organisers say this, and rebuilding relationships within the area, take immediate precedent over Portobello Rising, but stressed the importance of the festival in the current climate.

Acklam Village, where the Portobello Rising Festival was due to take place, seen here in 2015(Image: Goolistan Cooper)

A spokesperson said: “The spirit and strength people have gathered and are sharing in that space is monumental and truly inspiring at a time filled with such grief and uncertainty.

“In light of this, we feel it is only right to make sure any cultural event we are working to produce does so with Grenfell and the young community at its core.

“We have held a meeting with the community at Acklam Village and the young producers of the festival and have decided to postpone Portobello Rising Festival to a later date this summer.

“During the meeting - a combination of volunteers, Westway Trust and young people from Ladbroke Grove it was agreed that a platform such as Portobello Rising is very much needed, however more time is needed for the community initiative happening there now to be a secure space, and for relationships and trust to be built in order to create a truly relevant happening with longevity for the community, specifically young people affected.”

Talented up-and-coming artist Khadija Saye was the second confirmed Grenfell Tower fire victim(Image: PA)

The festival aimed to connect with the rich musical artistic history of the area. The area is home to the world famous Notting Hill Carnival, where Bob Marley recorded his seminal classic Exodus, while The Clash formed on Portobello Market.

The festival was to feature skateboarding demos and free skating lessons in BaySixty6 skate park, while the urban beach in Bay58 would have performances from Ebony steel band and spoken word performances from Poetic Unity.

Bay56 theatre was also to show thought-provoking short films and animations from young film-makers.

The spokesperson added: “At this moment we are continuing to connect and build a dialogue with the community about the great potential of Portobello Rising and will be in touch as developments happen.”

On June 16, two days after the fire, organisers said it intended “to go ahead with the event and to use it as a way of galvanising more support and fundraising for everyone affected by the tragedy at Grenfell Tower”.

Among those known to have died in the disaster is artist Khadija Saye, who lived on the 20th floor of the building with her mother Mary Mendy.

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