The Newcastle upon Tyne University lecturer who is to become full-time director of the Festival of Light next month, said this week that the Festival had acquired a "had image" and might need to change its name. Mr 0. R. Johnston. aged 48, a lecturer in education, told a press conference that "largescale demos and rallies are not really my cup of tea." He denied that the Festival "engendered hostility in people" but said it was perhaps thought "good for a laugh." As he had not yet begun his job, he said, he could not make "clear-cut pronouncements" about future plans, but he thought the Festival might need to commission research into the effects of certain films and television programmes and their responsibility for social deviance and crime.
"The mainspring of the Festival of Light is Christian compassion, pleading for the vulnerable. the young, the immature," he said. "Education is my field. The compassionate society thinks before screening things." He said he saw the Festival as .1 "predominantly, Christian bodyservicing the Churches and individuals. "They need reliable •information, rational arguments and suggestions for action . . at present the Churches are sometimes mute because of clumsy organisation and certain inherited middleclass attitudes."
While the .Festival had been criticised for being only negative, condemning pornography. it had a positive, sclaori7, compassionate aim. ht d One practical demonstration of this might be consideration of the plight of girls who were panicked into having abortions, and they were thinking or seeing what was being done to help I hem.
Asked where the Festival got its mandate from, he said 60,000 had joined their first demonstration in Trafidgar Square in 1971, and he thought they were main-. ly committed Christians. Mr Peter Hill, one of the youth organisers of the original Festival, said no paid-up membership existed. He issued a warning that "streakers were the tip of the iceberg" and that
"what we are seeing is going to
develop into homosexual and lesbian relationships being practised in the open."