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Walthamstow Garden Party is a free community-powered festival delivered by local residents, the Barbican and the London Borough of Waltham Forest, attracting over 30,000 people every year to explore the social and environmental benefits of localised festival models. Local artists and organisations are involved in the decision-making process of specific areas of the festival, meaning local residents have a say in the planning, programming and delivery of the two-day festival. This helps to sustain and build on the local cultural infrastructure and invest back into the local cultural economy.

Sustainability is a key priority for Walthamstow Garden Party (WGP) and working locally helps to cut emissions from transport: 62.4% of the audience came from Waltham Forest in 2019, while 49% travelled to the festival on foot or by bicycle. WGP provide drinks in reusable cups to prevent excess waste across the weekend.

One of the key successes from Walthamstow Garden Party has been increasing engagement with local residents and creative organisations who now help to shape and develop the artistic programme of the festival. A large part of the festival goes towards showcasing local talent: for example, 72% of the line-up in 2019 was local. This in turn supports the sustainability of the local cultural infrastructure and invests back into the local economy. Overall programme spending has shifted from 77% non-local and 23% local in 2014 to 39% non-local and 48% local in 2019.

As a direct result of the event skills and relationships are developed locally, strengthening the Walthamstow economy and helping to build a network of local cultural workers.

Photographer Credit for image: Gar Powell-Evans