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Saturday, August 8, 2020

Carnival seeks fairer treatment from Arts Council

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The Arts Council of England (ACE), which for many years has been an important funder of Carnival, has published its strategy for the next 10 years.

The glossy 68-page document, Let’s Create, has been described as “verbose, repetitive and somewhat vague”. Nevertheless, because it is going to be the framework for arts funding until 2030, it is essential reading for anyone involved in making grant applications.

Carnival already fulfils many of ACE’s ambitions for arts and culture, but mas bands and others have found it increasingly difficult to convince the organisation that they are worth supporting. Carnival Village Trust (CVT, the parent organisation of Notting Hill Carnival Limited, NHCL) has set up a four-person working group to help make a strong case to ACE on behalf of bands whose grant applications keep getting rejected.

There are clear disparities between the way Carnival is treated in comparison with other artforms. Theatre and opera receive far more generous funding yet are less accessible or relevant to the groups that ACE most wants to reach.

An option for the working group is to take a long-term, strategic approach, matching its plan to ACE’s 2020‑2030 timescale, to provide both certainty and flexibility.

One point in CVT/NHCL’s favour is that, as a member of the working group put it, “since NHCL took over in 2018, the police stated that the event has dramatically changed and has been the best since its inception”.

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