Last week saw celebrations for the first national centre dedicated to carnival artists and the promotion of the carnival art form. The £7.3 million centre based in Luton launched last weekend with a spectacular extravaganza featuring roof-top dancers, steel-pan musicians, circus artists and five spectacular Carnival Queens representing the five continents.
Post-launch, the UKCCA will be working with the V&A to develop a carnival archive – an important record of carnival traditions and heritage in the UK. The UKCCA will open immediately to the public, and will host events, workshops and more to the community in Luton. Its facilities will also be available for use by carnival artists from all over the country and beyond.
The carnival centre is now preparating for the upcoming Luton one day carnival – the largest one day carnival in the UK, which will be held during the May bank holiday on the 25th May.
More than six years in development, the centre was funded by a dynamic partnership including Arts Council England, East, the East of England Development Agency, GO-East & European Regional Development Fund and Luton Borough Council. The UKCCA will provide world-class facilities for Carnival Arts and artists of all forms, from music, dance and theatre to circus arts, costume-making and stagecraft. The Centre is open to everyone from international carnival artists to school children eager to learn about and participate in this unique, multicultural art form.
providing ways of building confidence, self esteem and pathways to higher education and employment
In addition to promoting excellence in Carnival Arts, the UKCCA will play an important role within the community. It will offer work experience and practical workshops to young people and education groups, providing ways of building confidence, self esteem and pathways to higher education and employment.
The UKCCA has also been designed to provide a hub for the development of Carnival Arts into trade ventures, and will offer business advice to help artists and enthusiasts turn their passion into enterprise.
Paul Anderson, executive director of the UKCCA said: “I am thrilled that we were able to launch our new Centre with a celebration truly reflective of the spirit of Carnival; local, national and international carnival artists coming together with the community to create something spectacular. Around one in five adults in the UK has visited a carnival in the past 12 months, and the UKCCA will provide a much-needed home for this inspirational, under-recognised art form. We hope the Centre can draw more people to this truly unique, 365 day a year art form.”