ARC at the Respect Festival - Millennium Dome Greenwich 19 July 2003The Arms Reduction Coalition (ARC) had a community stall (with many other NGO's) right in the centre of the Millennium Dome, Greenwich, at the Respect Festival on Saturday 19 July 2003.
The free Respect festival was 'an anti-racist festival celebrating London's diversity organised by: Mayor of London'. It had music stages, a comedy stage, an exhibition of (London and local authority departments, unions and large NGO's), two exhibitions of community stalls for smaller NGOs, fun fair rides, food stalls, bars, and many activities for children. Many thousands of people of all races attended. Both inside and around the dome there was a symphony of colours, lights and music. Those outside enjoying the glorious sunshine.
ARC's stall consisted of one table, with various literature such as ARC's newsletter, literature on the UN (such as the Charter, Millennium development goals, UNA), ACTUN, DFID, arms trade, control, reduction and verification. Our new banners and some small posters on arms statistics enhanced our stall. The passing throng took over a hundred copies of our new leaflets. These were well received as very few being found on the ground in the nearby localities. Sweets were offered to children of parents who took our leaflets; with some adults also taking some. Those who stopped for a chat or showed particular interest were asked to sign our petition. Even though we did not push it, we got over 25 signatories. When the adjacent table became free later on when left some literature on it unattended. These were mostly snapped up. We were encouraged by the many positive and helpful discussions we had with a broad cross section of people; from many nations and diverse age groups..
We were able to sample some of the delights of the festival in moments away from our stall; browsing through the other stalls and exhibitions, and checking out some of the sound stages. On reflection we should have spent more time giving our leaflets to other groups who may be interested in or who will benefit from ARC. One of my aims was to speak about ARC on one of the sound stages. I had written my speech and cut it down from twenty minutes to about eight. I was told to ask on the day, and was pleased when told it should be ok early on. However, disappointment, when the time came I could not get near one stage (no security badge), and another was running too far behind schedule. With encouragement from my colleague Fidel, I made one last attempt at the large sound stage outside the dome. Incredible! Success, I was able to speak for about three minutes. After covering a few of ARC basics I was being hurried so I had to throw away most of my speech and wing it; getting the some of the crowd to say the chant I had dreamt up on gun violence. Blood Run Done, Cease, Now Peace. This and the very good reception of ARC's message made the respect festival a success for ARC. BIG thanks and gratitude to all those that made it possible; especially physically, financially, me speaking on the sound stage and the low priced community stalls.
Karl Miller, July 2003
For the full (too long speech) written for but not delivered to the Respect Festival see: Why you should respect and support ARC.