The Barking & Dagenham Carnival has been running for seven years, but this year on Saturday 10 July 2021, it will take on a different spin ‑ apart from the physical event it will be streamed virtually. Hosted by UKON Careers, the festival will be free and open to everyone.
As a part of this year’s celebrations, revellers are expected to don hats, come with cups, masks and shirts they made during the Ukon Creative Week, refresh their dance steps and cook sumptuous Caribbean dishes using the skills gained during the Dancing and Cooking Weeks.
The stage is being set to lime and create unique experiences with carnival music and sounds this summer in July. Soca News wanted to find out more and asked the organisers some questions…
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When did the carnival begin and what was its aim?
The carnival started in July 2014, initially as a children’s celebration. The purpose was to bring communities and cultures together, supporting social cohesion and promoting understanding. It was also to celebrate our children, to give them a sense of pride, develop their confidence and support positive parenting. It also raised awareness of and engagement in the carnival, helping address the negative narrative of carnival and carnival arts.
Last year was tough for carnivals. How did you get through it and what will make 2021 different?
As a result of Covid-19, 2020 was our toughest year. Prior to Covid-19 all our services were delivered face to face and all our income was generated via face-to-face activities. Our social media, online and internet skills were limited. We were not able to apply for our normal funding streams and all confirmed commissions were cancelled. The challenge we faced was to continue to function now that our means of income generation had stopped. We decided to transfer all our services online and developed the skills we needed to support our carnival arts project. This consisted of a full six-week schedule of carnival arts workshops, tutorials and presentations culminating with Barking Carnival, which we had to reschedule from July 2020 to September 2020.
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Do you accept volunteers?
Yes, we do accept volunteers, throughout the year and especially the summer period.
How can I get involved as a mas band?
We are keen to have mas bands on board. For more information, please contact Roselle at email@example.com.
What parts of east London do you serve?
We are based in Barking and Dagenham and engage with all boroughs that are interested in working with us, particularly our neighbouring boroughs such as Havering, Redbridge, Newham and Waltham Forest.
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What will people be able to see on the day?
There will be carnival arts workshops in which the audience can participate, such as steel pan, African drumming, tamboo bamboo, samba and carnival craft making, plus performances from carnival artists and bands, a mini carnival parade and opportunities for audience participation.
Due to Covid-19 we will not be able to deliver the Barking & Dagenham Carnival in the full-blown way we have in the past – we have to follow borough and government guidelines on social distancing and ensuring performers and spectators are kept safe. Nevertheless, this event brings carnival in its entirety to the community, with elements of ole mas, traditional mas and contemporary mas.
Barking & Dagenham Carnival takes place on Saturday 10 July and will be live streamed on the day via the Carnival’s Youtube Channel.
For updates on any changes or further announcements, follow @ukoncareers on all social media platforms to stay informed.