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Heritage Lottery Fund to support Shakespeare Mardi Gras 2016!

The New Carnival Company has been awarded a grant of £20,100 from the Heritage Lottery Fund toward the research and learning programmes underpinning the 2016 Isle of Wight Mardi Gras parade entitled ‘All the World’s a Stage’.

The theme has been developed in order to tie in with international events commemorating the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare.  Frankie Goldspink, Creative Director at the New Carnival Company explained “William Shakespeare died 400 years ago, yet his legacy of written works ensure his relevance to society, past and present, never wanes. His characters and stories reveal universal truths about the human condition in a way we can all relate to; whether it is the tragic outcome of unchecked greed and ambition, an unrelenting desire for revenge, or the pursuit of love. His representation of human nature is just as real and as relevant today, as it has been through the centuries.”

The Heritage Lottery Fund grant will support 10 of the 25 schools taking part in the parade, by enabling them to enrich their experience by carrying out research projects and investigations into the life, times and works of The Bard.  The project has already uncovered connections between Shakespeare’s work and Carisbrooke Castle through Sir George Carey, Captain of the Isle of Wight (1582-1603). Sir George was a great patron of the arts in his time and is said to have commissioned The Lord Chamberlain’s Men, a playing company for whom Shakespeare wrote most of his plays.

The schools will be able to access additional support from the New Carnival Company to develop their learning into spectacular carnival costumes for the parade. The grant will additionally train 20 new adult volunteers as ‘Heritage Makers’ to ensure the young people can fully explore their chosen Shakespearian work and create an exhibition as a legacy for their work.

The project was officially launched on Saturday 30th January at a special event at Carisbrooke Castle.  School representatives, volunteer heritage makers and freelance learning and design assistants all met together with staff from the New Carnival Company and the Heritage Education Service to plan a packed six month programme of activity. The launch was presided over by a giant puppet of William Shakespeare created by NCC Lead Artist Gina Dyer.

Chris Slann, the New Carnival Company’s Executive Director said “We are so grateful to the Heritage Lottery for supporting the learning programmes associated with the Mardi Gras. The investment will allow us to undertake some exciting development work with Carisbrooke Castle, the IW Heritage Education Service and the IOW Shakespeare Company.  The grant will help us to create a carnival parade which is not only spectacular, but also informative and educational by examining the huge impact Shakespeare has had on our contemporary language and culture.”

The Isle of Wight Mardi Gras: ‘All the World’s a Stage’ takes place on Saturday 25 June, 3pm on the streets of Ryde.  The project is already attracting national attention.

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