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UK Centre for Carnival Arts: update

  • Date: 22 November 2010
  • Artform: Combined arts
  • Area: South East
smiling woman dancing with gold head dress UKCCA launch, May 2009, Geoff Caddick

A year since opening, the UK Centre for Carnival Arts (UKCCA) in Luton continues to build on its reputation as a national centre of excellence for carnival arts.

A pioneering artistic hub, it provides accredited training for the carnival community, working with international artists and providing valued space for business start-ups.

The organisation received total capital funding of £7.3 million from Arts Council England, the East of England Development Agency, Go-East, Luton Borough Council and the European Regional Development Fund, and this year will receive a total Arts Council England grant of £536,479 as a regularly funded organisation. 

Among its many functions, the UKCCA provides sponsorship, marketing and artistic direction for Luton International Carnival, working closely with Luton Cultural Services Trust and Luton Borough Council. It aims to take over the running of the carnival by 2012, simultaneously sharing its expertise with other carnivals in the UK.

This year the carnival had its best year yet, despite the grey skies and flood warnings. More than 100,000 people are estimated to have attended the day, with 1,800 taking part and a stunning display of 70 colourful floats.

With these success stories cementing its reputation, the UKCCA has recently been given a Heritage Lottery Fund grant of just under £600,000 to produce a regional archive for carnival arts.

Work has already started and the centre has appointed a team of consultants to deliver the archive, to include Southend, Norwich, Luton, Bedford and Northampton. The organisation will recruit its own archive team next year.

Also in the offing is its latest project, Carnival Crossroads, which aims to encourage the region's diverse communities, artists, schools and colleges to get involved in carnival and get a chance to experience the parades, the costumes and the culture.

Funded by the Legacy Trust and Arts Council England, the project will take place in Cambridge, Norwich, Southend, Luton and Ipswich over the next two years as part of the Cultural Olympiad. It is hoped it will help to increase local participation in the Luton Carnival by 25 per cent by 2012.

Paul Anderson, Chief Executive of the UK Centre for Carnival Arts, said: 'Carnival offers an unrivalled wealth of possibilities for participation, learning, enjoyment, and both personal and community growth and development. The UKCCA exists to provide education, enterprise, advocacy, training, and outreach activities that promote the value, reach and powerful impact of carnivals and carnival arts regionally. The Carnival Crossroads project is an exciting regional activity that will allow carnival to be part of the lives of everyone.'

Over the next 10 years, the UKCCA and the Luton International Carnival, is expected to:

  • contribute over £34 million to the region's economy
  • attract more than three million visitors
  • preserve, map and document six national carnival communities
  • deliver over 30 master classes
  • host 10-15 international conferences on creative and developmental carnival topics
  • train up to 100 carnival artists through its national creative and professional development programme
  • train up to 120 teachers through teacher training and insets