A Walthamstow arts festival awarded funding by the former Waltham Forest Council leader is finally taking place this weekend.
The Walthamstow Weekender aims to “bring a program of top-class literature, comedy, poetry and music” to the area this Saturday and Sunday.
While the Weekender team said they hope to return annually if all goes well, this debut event was made possible by £20,000 awarded by former council leader Clare Coghill in early 2021.
The festival is organized by Richard Thomas and Tony Dobson, both based outside of the borough, and Walthamstow local Susan Murray, who runs the Red Imp Comedy Club.
Richard, director of a literature festival in Wales, told the Echo: “We sort of stumbled into it, I don’t think there was any one general idea. We’re trying to incorporate a bit of everything: comedy, literature, poetry, politics.
“Susan said she knew the person who was then head of Waltham Forest Council and there was a meeting set up… The council wanted to show off Walthamstow to people who have not been here before.”
All events will take place in either the Walthamstow Trade Hall or Ye Olde Rose & Crown pub and the line-up includes comedian Rich Hall, poet Brian Bilston and writer Calum Jacobs.
While further funding was provided by local brewery Exale, the rest of the money will come entirely from ticket sales.
Asked to comment on the decision to award funding, a council spokesperson said the money came from the “leader’s fund” and that such awards are “discretionary”.
They said: “Agreements were put in place to benefit the community before any funding was awarded.
“These include ensuring local venues such as the Rose and Crown pub benefit by hosting events and that opportunities are offered to local young people, building on the legacy of our year as the Mayor’s first-ever London Borough of Culture.
“We are looking forward to welcoming some of the biggest names in comedy to Walthamstow this weekend.”
Former leader Clare Coghill resigned from her position in June last year and took a job at Square Roots, a subsidiary of housing developer London Square, a few months later.
Find out more about the festival and buy tickets here.