The Urban Art Fair faces having to leave Brixton because of Lambeth Council plans to increase its charges

A long-standing community event that raises thousands of pounds for local good causes in Brixton could move to Greenwich borough after Lambeth Council increased its charges by nearly 3,000 per cent.  

Urban Art Fair, which is held in Brixton every summer and has non-profit status, was told by Lambeth Council it needed to shell out £8,000 to hold the event this year, up from £277 last year.  

Last year’s event saw 120 artists exhibit their work on a tree-lined road, Josephine Avenue, displaying their wares on railings.

It is organised by a non-profit group, but Lambeth plans to charge the Urban Art Fair as if it were a commercial business.

Event organiser Timothy Sutton said Greenwich was one of three boroughs that had offered to host the event.

He said: “Taxing a small community event trying to raise funds for local good causes is just insipid. And for Lambeth to do this without any sense of shame is disgusting.” 

Sutton sent an email to local businesses and artists explaining the situation and said he had been inundated with messages of support.  “We’ve also had offers from Wandsworth, Bromley and Greenwich to hold the event. It’s very touching,” he said.  

Brixton has hosted the event, which offers an affordable space for local artists to display their work, since 2002. But the popular fair simply cannot go ahead in the borough of Lambeth if the charges remain as they are. The council has also asked that a road closure be in place for the event.  

“A road closure is totally unaffordable for a small community events,” Sutton said.
“Most artists don’t make money – if Lambeth wants artists in the borough they need to be realistic about it and not charge £8,000. It’s a joke and totally unrealistic. Most people are just doing it for the love of it.” 

Lambeth Council is yet to comment.

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Grainne Cuffe is the Local Democracy Reporter for Lambeth. The Local Democracy Reporter Service is a BBC-funded initiative to ensure councils are covered properly in local media.
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