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St Pauls’ Carnival set to return next summer

Ideas and Action

In a sign of brighter days to come, community organisers have announced the revival of the St Paul’s Carnival for the 1st July 2017.

Photo Credit: St Pauls’ Carnival (CIC)

The strategy to reignite St Pauls’ Carnival is now well on course after a months-long consultation process under the guidance of the Carnival Commission, composed of a collective of community organisers.

A newly formed organisation, St Paul’s Carnival (Bristol) CIC, has been set up and is currently recruiting people to spearhead the delivery of the event.

A community-led revival

Back in July, a report published by the Carnival Commission (CC), had pointed out that “people who love (Carnival) are in a unique position to define its future.”

Highlighting the task ahead at the time, the report produced by Armstrong–Cameron-Pitter, the consultants commissioned to summarise the community-led consultation process, stated “it is our view that the Commission needs to form a clear vision for St Paul’s Carnival.”

Julian Davis, external partnerships’ officer for Ujima 98fm and organiser of the Carnival’s revival, announced “as an industry, we need to get our act together, and turn crisis into opportunity… We need custodians, people who are culturally empathetic.”

The consultation with the community had a “positive and an integral role to play in order to relaunch a sustainable Carnival” the report stated. Galvanising a shared vision from proposals and surveys, members of the community aimed to co-create one of Bristol’s “best loved street-based spectacles.”

By September, Asher Craig, Labour councillor and cabinet member for neighbourhoods, commented on social media that she was “delighted” at the progress being made in “working together.”

A new brand, business and vibe

Acting on the strong recommendations from the consultation process, a new brand has been created, with structures that could provide the model and content suitable for all partners. Crucially this is intended with pathways to sustainability.

After the turmoil caused by Bristol City Council’s funding for Carnival being cut in November last year, the report asserted the council “remain(ed) committed to reinstating it should a suitable, robust delivery model be identified.” This issue has now been resolved and funding has been renewed. The Arts Council and St Pauls’ Afrikan Caribbean Carnival (former organiser of Carnival) have also joined as funding partners for the next edition.

Highlighting the concerns for a sustainable business, Cllr Carol Thompson said “Carnival did start without funding, which must be remembered”, adding that “we should learn from the wrong and the right of the past, join old and new, to move forward successfully.”

The Carnival Commission has now been disbanded to give way to the new organisation, for which Voscur will lead an independent recruitment process. Meanwhile, a group composed of Carnival founders, local cultural and community groups, Carnival members, the funders, local councillors, neighbourhood partnerships and the business community, have been actively involved in the revival of Carnival.

Fundamental to this new perspective was the acknowledgement that St Pauls’ Carnival needed to engage diverse audiences and provide varied activities such as discussions and talks.

Family-oriented daytime parades as well as sound systems for night time parties all contribute towards bringing long term sustainability. These complementary views showed people were addressing recommendations for the Carnival’s renewed situation.

“I want my children to benefit from the culture and education Carnival offers…” said Johnathon Jackson, a Carnival Commission member.

Considering Carnival had spilled out of the hands of the community, the Carnival has wiped the slate and transformed. “It’s a case of rebirth…” pointed out Anndeloris Chacon, from the Black Carers Network.

Applications encouraged for people with the right skills sets, contacts, capacity and desire to become a Director of St Pauls’ Carnival CIC. See here.

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