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New Carnival Company secures National Lottery support for IW carnival heritage project

Recently, New Carnival Company (NCC) based in Ryde, Isle of Wight received a National Lottery Heritage Fund grant of £54,000 for an exciting new project. ‘A Rather Bewildering Spectacle’ will focus on the Island’s rich carnival heritage, which has never been well documented or curated, and spans from 1887 to the present day. The unusual title was how the IW County Press described the first Island Carnival held in Ryde in 1888. This project has been made possible by money raised by National Lottery players, and the work carried out will be at the heart of next year’s Mardi Gras theme, A Story of Carnival.

NCC will be working with Carisbrooke Castle Museum, who hold carnival memorabilia in their collections, and InspirEd who will help to capture and record memories of Isle of Wight carnival in the past through reminiscence and oral history activities led by school children and adult volunteers. The project aims to engage young people across the Island to learn about its carnival traditions and discover new stories which will be saved for posterity and added to Carisbrooke Castle Museum’s oral history collection . A documentary around the project and a bespoke Island Carnival Memories website will also be created, with selected parts reimagined and presented at 2020’s Mardi Gras parade.

Frankie Goldspink, creative director at NCC says, “We want to capture local resident’s memories of carnival and so we would love to hear from anyone involved with legends like the Keystone Cops or Ryde Buccaneers. The real stories are held in old family photo albums and memories of elders who can reflect on past carnivals with unique insight. (x Hanna Surname? x), the granddaughter of James White, also known as Skimbo, a well-loved carnival figure in Ventnor, has already been in touch with some fascinating stories.” Local residents will be invited along to community reminiscence sessions where we hope these stories will come to life and personal memorabilia can be shared ?? (I think we should add a sentence along these lines to ensure people know how and when they might be able to share)

The 2020 Mardi Gras theme, A Story of Carnival will cover carnival beginnings in ancient Egypt to modern day extravaganzas, and include a section of IW carnival tradition. Anyone interested in being involved in next year’s Mardi Gras is welcome to attend the launch on Thursday November 21 at 6pm in Ryde Academy theatre.

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