EXCLUSIVE: Brixton Urban Art Fair to go ahead – with increased cost to artists

A highly successful urban art fair’s organiser has condemned the fee it has been charged – and said a neighbouring borough is asking a fraction of the price.

But its creator has said the event is likely to go ahead this year after a provisional fee was agreed – though it is a big increase on previous years.

Tim Sutton, organiser of the popular annual Urban Art event in Brixton, has this week announced it will take place this year after months of talks.  

His Freedom of Information inquiry revealed neighbouring Wandsworth charges just £60 to community events – and less than £1,800 for commercial ones. 

Open Art Project, organisers of the Urban Art event, are a non-profit company limited by guarantee – so no profits can be drawn from the company. And if there were any cash left over at the end of a year, it would be liable to pay tax. 

The fair’s 125 artists are charged a pitch fee, to contribute to the running costs of the art fair; and a 10 per cent sales commission

A survey of the 2019 fair revealed 10 per cent of its artists only show there, 16 per cent make no sales at all, and 40 per cent are from Lambeth – and they are the artists who will be most affected.

Two local schools and two local mental health projects were given £1,283.26 from the 2019 event. 

The roads have never been closed for the event – drivers just steer clear of the streets it is run.  This year the event will be charged £1,200 or more for the road closure – the permit is £566, licence £331 and returnable deposit £500.

The closure are likely to be on Josephine Avenue and Appach Road with three barriers at the junctions of Brixton Water Lane, Leander Road and Helix Road. 

Sutton said: “We have no choice but to accept these charges, even though they are much higher than Wandsworth.

“The £2,597 fee we have agreed to will cost each artist with a small pitch £5 extra and full pitches will pay an extra £20. The amount we raise for good causes may also be squeezed.

“The £8,000 Lambeth wanted to charge initially was nearly three thousand percent more than the £270 charge in 2019. 

“Despite our non-profit status and fund-raising – a record £6,000 last year – Lambeth had insisted we pay a commercial rate with minimal reductions.

“Lambeth need to be realistic if they want fund raising events such as ours to continue in the borough.”

A Lambeth Council spokesperson said: “The council has a role in making sure public events are run safely. A road closure for this event, which is held in a residential street, is essential to ensure the safety of the increasing numbers of the public and traders attending.

 “There is a cost to managing this and it is the responsibility of the event organisers to cover that cost. This is not a profit making venture for the council which supports this event and recognises its growing popularity. 

“Full discounting on these costs is reserved for registered charities and local community groups. The event organiser has been offered discounted fees which have been accepted.”




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