L-R: Coral Scarr, and Caroline Okello taking part in Alegria at Southbank. London


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The New Carnival Company (NCC) have this week announced an exciting new national project, supported by Arts Council England (ACE) through their National Lottery Project Grants funding programme.

The Open Road project will look at the challenges of inclusive carnival arts practice, focussing on seen and unseen disabilities through the experiences of disabled carnival performers and practitioners.

NCC will be working with 3 other sector champions in carnival and disability; Together! 2012 from London, Gloucester Carnival Arts Partnership (CAP) and Callaloo Carnival Arts (CCA) from Huddersfield.

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New Carnival Company secured £186,000 of lottery funding to make this project possible following their successful 2018 Alegria Samba School project. Alegria brought together disabled and non-disabled carnival artists from the UK and Rio to create an inclusive show presented in the UK and abroad.

Frankie Goldspink, Creative Director at NCC, says:

“Producing and presenting Alegria taught us that carnival events are often lacking adequate provision for disabled performers. Our aim is to test, document and evaluate these challenges with a view to making real changes, to ‘Open the Road’ to everyone on carnival day.”

Phil Gibby, Area Director for the South West, ACE, said:

“We are thrilled to support Open Road through our National Lottery Project Grants funding programme. Emanating from the Isle of Wight, The NCC lead the way for disability-led, accessible carnival arts engagement both nationally and globally. Open Road’s totally inclusive approach to carnival arts practice makes a fantastic commitment to diversity, ensuring more people in more places can experience and be inspired by the arts.”

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 Chris Slann, NCC’s executive director adds:

“We’re really excited to have been awarded this generous ACE grant to work with three fantastic carnival organisations. Together! 2012 will be exploring how to make Carnival more inclusive to people who are deaf and hard of hearing. Gloucester CAP will test a new choreography and production process to enable all carnival participants to perform to an equally high standard, and CCA will be identifying and removing barriers to create a spectacular, multi-sensory and inclusive carnival.”

The Open Road project will present case studies for discussion by academics and practitioners in July 2020 at an International Conference in Brighton organised by The Association for Events Management Education (AEME) and NCC. It is hoped the outcomes of Open Road will help to influence policies and practice for future generations of event managers and strengthen the carnival sector through alliances and the creation of change.

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