Help us reach our campaign target: Become a member
The Bristol Cable

Talking St Pauls Carnival: from words to action


The rewards are self-evident: a return to the splendour and beauty of Carnival. But is the event going to make a comeback?

On Ujima radio mayor Marvin Rees recently said, “St Pauls Carnival is a Cultural institution… It’s an investment in skills… evidence of contribution by West Indians… it’s important it stays in place… Carnival has cultural anchors firmly planted in Bristol.”

Issues such as gentrification says the mayor, have made “people feel they have lost a physical and cultural foothold which can contribute to social crises”. Meanwhile, Rees recently announced Bristol’s candidacy for the European Capital of Culture bid, with St Pauls Carnival taking a lead role.

In light of core funding for the Carnival having ceased, and support from the Council being cut in November 2015, a grass roots-formed Commission came together to address these issues. The individual commissioners come from a range of professional backgrounds, including accountancy, law, youth work, event management, culture & arts, and media and community development. Their mission, to create a self-sustainable festival that would be an integrated part of Bristol’s cultural life while addressing the needs of the community.

St Paul's CarnivalSupporting the cause

Since late 2015 the Commission has organised public events and reported on the future sustainability of the event. They aim to get the Festival back on track for 2018 with a big celebration. In line with their brief, the Commission has organised a series of consultations to represent the thoughts of all interested parties – the community, event organisers, businesses, funders and founders. Their report, released in June 2016 has provided a clearer picture of the challenges and prospects for the future organisation.

Julian Davis, member of the commission and Ujima’s external relationship manager, “We are just like you… concerned citizens who care passionately about the Carnival’s sustainability…”  Introducing Talking Carnival 2, a platform for consultations, he described Carnival as “a co-created celebration that nobody wants in the place it’s in.”

The meeting was labelled ‘Planning a Future for St Pauls African Caribbean Carnival’. Julian added, “one simple aim of the report is to make constructive and potentially game-changing suggestions towards stabilising, strengthening and securing a sustainable future for an authentic Caribbean Carnival on the streets of St Pauls.”

The commission insist the event should remain “co-created”, and efforts be made between Carnival operators, community support structures, as well as partners such as the Police, to make resources available and shared. They underlined that, “core funding, ring-fenced for an African Caribbean Carnival celebration, had been withheld by the Arts and City Council, not withdrawn,” indicating that funding is available.

The general feeling surrounding the Commission process, from observers and participants alike, is one of hope. Off the back of Talking Carnival #2 meeting mid-June, Roy Hackett, Bristol civil rights campaigner and Carnival co-founder, said, “I felt good about what I’ve heard today,” showing a confidence in current discussions.

Carnival’s future character is not yet set in stone, with the Commission welcoming the views and contributions from all Carnivalists. Anyone can request a copy of the 60 page report and get more involved.


If you’re inclined, don’t hesitate to get involved. Talking Carnival #3 is Wednesday 27th July, a public consultation where you can “share your thoughts, or help co-create a clear plan of action to refresh, revitalise and relaunch a sustainable Carnival…” (Carnival Commission). See the Carnival Commission Facebook page 


Post a comment

Mark if this comment is from the author of the article

By posting a comment you agree to our Comment Policy.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Related content

Watch: Why you should back the Cable – in 60 seconds

A breakdown of all the things we've managed to achieve for Bristol in almost a decade of reporting.

We’re working to diversify the Cable team. Let’s start with our freelancer base

The Cable exists to challenge the structure of the media, but we are not representative enough of our city. Here’s what we’re doing to change things.

Community standoff with council over eviction threat of beloved Kuumba Centre in St Pauls

The space next to Stokes Croft has served the local community for decades but activists are now fighting to secure its long-term future.

‘We need people to step up now’: the Bristolians working to save cricket from climate change

Cricket's past is tangled with colonialism, a key root of climate change. Now, it's the pitch sport most at risk from global heating – but a group based in Bristol are working to highlight the threats and protect its future.

Local experts condemn Sunak’s draughty homes U-turn as likely to cost lives

Last week, the government announced it would not be raising the minimum energy efficiency standards of privately rented properties – which will leave thousands of renters living in cold homes.

West of England mayor holds talks with Andy Burnham about bus franchising after local campaign

Metro Mayor Dan Norris has faced months of calls to formally explore taking Bristol's struggling bus services back into public control.

Police and council defend safeguarding app after calls to stop collecting info on vulnerable young people

A criminal justice campaign group has said use of the database is being kept from parents and guardians, but the council says it has helped protect hundreds of children.

Join our newsletter

Get the essential stories you won’t find anywhere else

Subscribe to the Cable newsletter to get our weekly round-up direct to your inbox every Saturday

Join our newsletter

Subscribe to the Cable newsletter

Get our latest stories & essential Bristol news
sent to your inbox every Saturday morning