National Carnival Conference 2009

Carnival Conference 2009

National Discourse On Carnival Arts Roots & Routes: Recalling, Reviewing, Reshaping

Under the distinguished patronage of Her Excellency, Miss Gail P Guy, Acting High Commissioner for the Republic of Trinidad & Tobago

2nd – 4th OCTOBER 2009

Carnival Village, in partnership with ELIMU Paddington Arts Carnival Band and the Victoria and Albert Museum, is hosting, as part of its formal launch, a National Discourse on Carnival Arts. The purpose of this National Discourse is to review, challenge and re-shape the current Carnival orthodoxy and develop both a conceptual and an artistic framework for the development of Carnival Arts and its related industries for the next 50 years with specific reference to the 2012 Olympics.

The Conference is funded and supported by the Arts Council England, London.

The conference will have two thematic strands – Roots and Routes.

Roots will focus on the history, antecedents and heritage of Carnival in London. It will recognise the contested issue of a historical and artistic continuity between the indoor Carnival of Claudia Jones and the street parade initiated by Ruanne Laslett and the impact of others such as Joe Hunte of the West Indian Standing Conference and Lesley Palmer.

Routes will focus on the challenges facing all Carnivals and Festivals in public open spaces and initiate the discourse on what needs to be done to ensure continuity and sustainability of all such events.


The key objectives of this conference will be to:

Inform the Carnival Village’s Development Plans Formulate an approach to and build a consensus on Carnival Arts Identify and develop a strategic forum of stakeholders, performers and artists Recognise and celebrate artistic excellence in Carnival Arts Build on the legacies of Claudia Jones and other Carnival Pioneers

The major features of the Conference are: An open learning/ meeting/networking space
An Exhibition commemorating ’50 Years of Carnival’
A Carnival Concert featuring the best of Carnival artistes
The inaugural Claudia Jones Carnival Memorial Lecture by Dr Pat Bishop
A Commemorative Walk
A Cinematic Tribute to Carnival
Carnival Book Stall

Shabaka Thompson, CEO of Carnival Village says: “We are creating an institution that will become one of the leading players in the development of Carnival Arts. Carnival Village is a partnership of representatives of the major Carnival Arts Arenas and through them we will extend our hand to all constituents and individuals to make Carnival Village the engine room of Carnival. The National Discourse is a perfect example of how we shall use our good offices to broker such partnerships and offer the whole community bespoke opportunities for the arts in Carnival.”

Post-Conference Events

Thursday 8 October 2009 2 pm – 4 pm ’50 Years of Carnival’ – The Carnival Tour Local Historian, Tom Vague, will conduct a walk around the major Carnival sites starting at Tavistock Crescent.

Wednesday 21st October 2009 7.30 p.m. The Journey of Carnival HISTORYtalk Annual Lecture by Tom Vague Lecture Theatre, Central Library, Hornton Street, London W8 7RX

The first London Carnival was held on 30 January 1959 at St Pancras Town Hall and was televised by the BBC. Organised by political activist and Founder-Editor of the West Indian Gazette, Claudia Jones, it was timed to coincide with the Caribbean’s largest and most famous carnival in Trinidad and designed to make a determined and positive statement against the 1958 Notting Hill race riots. 2009 marks 50 years since the first Carnival celebration in the London Borough of Camden.