‘Under threat’: Dalston has a long association with the arts. Image: DA150

A festival honouring Dalston’s 150-year association with the arts is set to begin with a weekend of cultural events.

DalstonArts150 (DA150) is a community-led celebration of the area’s long-established reputation as a hub for artists.

The relationship began in 1868 with the building of artists’ supplies factory Reeves and Sons on Ashwin Street.

But one DA150 organiser says the anniversary festivities are also an opportunity to “reinforce in people’s minds the importance of what we have” in the face of council regeneration plans.

The festival, which will run for the rest of the year, kicks off this weekend with a number of events.

At 1pm on Saturday, Sean Gubbins of Walk Hackney will be conducting an affordable guided tour through the area using DA150’s Heritage Trail map – copies of which are available at the Eastern Curve Garden.

The walk starts at the Print House Gallery on Ashwin Street.

At the same gallery, a special show will be on display from 3pm on both Saturday and Sunday.

The DalstonArts150 Exhibition, which runs until 9 June, takes visitors through the area’s cultural and architectural history, as well as providing information about the threat it faces today.

The weekend culminates with performances by the London Community Gospel Choir and others at the historic Shiloh Pentecostal Church, which was built just three years after the Reeves and Sons factory.

The event kicks off at 6.30pm.

DA150 organiser and local resident Bill Parry-Davies said: “In December 2016, Hackney’s cabinet resolved to dispose of a number of its sites in Dalston, which are presently occupied by the voluntary sector and cultural industries, to a ‘development partner’.”

Parry-Davies said the concern locally is that Dalston will “end up with a load of luxury flats and unaffordable workspace” which could lead to the area’s character being lost.

He added: “The events we are organising aim to reinforce in peoples’ minds the importance of what we have and the risks which are faced.”

Parry-Davies urged everyone “of all faiths and none” to come along to the church on Sunday, saying it will be an “unmissable and sensational evening”.

Stay in the loop about upcoming events by following the festival on Twitter at @DalstonArts150

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