South London’s delightful Horniman Museum, in Forest Hill, will be the venue for a meeting of the UK’s samba school community, which is facing many challenges in common with the UK’s mas bands.
The event will run from 2pm to 6pm on Thursday 3 November and will look at the history of Brazilian-influenced carnival in Britain, its current strengths and scope for improvement. In particular, the symposium will consider whether there is a need for some kind of association or formal network.
Symposium organiser Daniel Bernstein, executive director of Emergency Exit Arts, is posing the sort of questions that many are asking generally about Notting Hill Carnival’s costume groups. “How has the artistic quality developed? Is it a growing phenomenon, or has it peaked and had its day? Do we need a mechanism or organisation to represent us?” He goes on to wonder whether youngsters are being nurtured so that in time they will be ready to join or lead a community band.
And finally Bernstein asks: “Is it time for a proper archive to be established of some of the materials developed by this amazing artform over the past 30+ years?” With Britain’s prime showcase for both mas bands and samba schools, Notting Hill Carnival, coming under serious pressure, it might be time for the Caribbean and Latin American traditions to unite to discuss these crucial questions.
Daniel can be contacted at: daniel.bernstein(at)eea.org.uk.