London Calypso Tent 2021. Photographer Stephen Spark

London’s Calypso funding row continues


The recent trials and tribulations of calypso in London have been as much to do with money as with viral devastation. Attempts to hold the full season last year were disrupted by an unseemly wrangle between Carnival Village Trust (CVT), which runs The Tabernacle in Powis Square, and UK calypso’s governing body, the Association of Calypsonians and Soca Artists (ACASA).

In summary, CVT refused to release funding that had been allocated to ACASA. Although the funding – modest though it is – has now been released, allowing two shows to go ahead this month, the row simmers on. ACASA’s view, as presented to Soca News, is that some curious reasons have been given for not passing on the funders’ monies, such as the Association not being a registered charity. However, in order to receive funding, there is no requirement for an arts body to be a registered charity, only that the organisation be properly constituted and responsibly managed and that proper records are kept.

This dispute has caused considerable damage to the music’s standing in the UK, as well as ruining fans’ enjoyment. Once again, Soca News calls on ACASA and CVT to resolve their differences swiftly. In particular, CVT needs to demonstrate through positive action that it will support ACASA in its work to preserve, protect, promote and present calypso for future generations.

Carnival Village Trust
According to its filing on the Charity Commission website, CVT was registered on 15 August 2008 and spends its money to: “Advance the arts for the benefit of the public by but not limited to providing arts and community venues to facilitate activities such as but not limited to dance, theatre, music and carnival arts – Managing two arts based venues – Production and promotion of a variety of arts and carnival arts not only at the Tabernacle and the Yaa Centre but in the wider public realm.”

One of its registered charitable aims is to “Provide annual grants to support the work of the Association of Calypsonians and Soca Artists (ACASA)”.
As at 31 March 2021, CVT’s total income was £1,744,521 and expenditure £1,787,585, a difference of £43,064. The majority of its income (£1.2 million) came from “charitable activities”, plus £541,100 from “other”, a mere £134 from investments and nothing from donations, legacies or other trading activities. It spent £930,260 on raising funds, £857,320 on charitable activities and nothing on “other”.

CVT has 40 employees – one of them is paid between £70,000 and £80,000 – and eight trustees. The trustees are all unpaid, although one, Ian Comfort, provided an interest-free loan to the Trust of £40,000, according to CVT’s 2020/21 annual report.

Soca News welcomes readers’ views on CVT’s role as “London’s development agency for Carnival Arts”.

• Full details of CVT’s activities, its financial arrangements and annual report can be found on the Charity Commission website.




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