Enriching lives, connecting communities

Opening the Road to Carnival

The New Carnival Company (NCC) are delighted to announce 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 three other sector champions in carnival and disability; Together! 2012 from London, Gloucester Carnival Arts Partnership (CAP) and Callaloo Carnival Arts (CCA) from Huddersfield.

NCC secured £186,000of 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 of the NCC said “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, 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.”

 Chris Slann, executive director at NCC says, “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.


 Notes for Editor:

The Open Road uses the social model of disability to examine and address, through creative interventions and action research, the challenges of inclusive carnival arts practice particularly with reference to disability and the experience of disabled carnival performers and practitioners. It will develop partnerships between four sector champions on carnival and disability – NCC, Together! 2012, Callaloo and Gloucester Carnival Arts Partnership. Each will develop a case study, informed by new commissioned work, a creative response to one of four collaboratively identified questions. Disability-led and fully accessible, work will be shared at carnivals in four host towns and in part at an International Conference at University of Brighton in July 2020.

The Open Road will form a key strand of practice and dialogue at this conference, organised by The Association for Events Management Education (AEME), together with NCC. The conference will bring together academics and practitioners from around the globe to discuss social inequalities in carnivals, festivals and outdoor events. Each case study will take the lead in four panel discussions/workshops, supported by invited panel members from the carnival sector and the academic world.

The aim of Open Road is to influence policy and practice for future generations of event managers, and to strengthen the carnival sector through alliance and creating change.

Dissemination follows through the Open Road-show, touring the regions to enable local audiences to access and contribute to this on-going work, with a bespoke accessible web guide to best practice.

 New Carnival Company (NCC), based in Ryde on the Isle of Wight is a pioneering arts development organisation specialising in carnival and outdoor public celebrations. Its team of highly experienced carnival artists and producers, teachers and trainers, project managers and outdoor event specialists believe that carnival and other forms of celebratory arts can make a real difference to people and places. The team deliver an extensive community outreach and carnival arts training programme across the island, the South of England, nationally and internationally. NCC is a leader in the field of Carnival and Disability and in driving forward Accredited Learning opportunities supporting young people to enter the creative workforce. NCC are proud to be part of Arts Council England’s National portfolio and share their vision of achieving great art for everyone.


Arts Council England (ACE) is the national development body for arts and culture across England, working to enrich people’s lives. ACE support a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries – from theatre to visual art, reading to dance, music to literature, and crafts to collections. Great art and culture inspires people, brings them together and teaches people about themselves and the world around them. In short, it makes life better. Between 2018 and 2022, Arts Council will invest £1.45 billion of public money from government and an estimated £860 million from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country. www.artscouncil.org.uk

Together! 2012 CIC is based in Newham, London and is an artist-led organisation working to create a Paralympic cultural Legacy in the main Host Borough of Newham, which has the lowest level of cultural engagement in the UK. The team is led by locally based disabled artists under the artistic direction of international disabled artist Dr Ju Gosling. They began exploring how to make Carnival more inclusive and accessible in 2014, and have since delivered two award-winning projects at Hackney Carnival working with Paracarnival. They are delighted to be working with such wonderful national partners to continue learning together and to share these lessons across the sector. In particular, Together! 2012 will be exploring how to make their Carnival work more inclusive of Deaf and hard of hearing people, women, children and wheelchair users by using Caribbean Mas and soundsystem traditions.


Callaloo Carnival Arts (CCA) are based in Mirfield near Huddersfield, but began in London in 1995 putting on their first Mas at Notting Hill Carnival. CCA use creative activities to encourage positive changes in the people, places and communities they work with. The team’s vision is to create vibrant, resilient, connected communities where everyone can contribute, and where the benefits of a diverse population are widely understood and often celebrated. Making Mas allows them to work together to explore alternative realities and imagine new solutions

Callaloo Carnival Arts (CCA) propose to create a spectacular multi-sensory Mas for Mirfield Carnival Parade 2020, with live music, costumed Masqueraders and a ‘Big Make’. They will work to identify and remove barriers to inclusion for designers, makers, performers/participants and audiences, and also engage with and celebrate local people and places, bringing out their creativity, telling their stories, enabling them to shine.


Gloucester’s Carnival Arts Partnership was established in 2012 to extend and diversify participation in, and to raise artistic quality of Gloucester Carnival. The partners work to encourage wider participation in Gloucester Carnival, to bring down barriers to participation, share artistic practice and set goals and plans for future years. Open Road will enable Gloucester CAP to test and refine a new Carnival choreography and production process and set of tools. This will enable Carnival parade participants, irrespective of individual movement possibilities, to perform to an equally high standard. Currently, CAP partners include Art Shape, Dance Unstuck, Gloucester Culture Trust, The Hindu Cultural Association Gloucester, Kindred Spirits, Marketing Gloucester and Your Next Move.

For more information on the above, please contact Chris Slann, executive director at the New Carnival Company on 01983 716095 or chris@thenewcarnivalcompany.com

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