Sunday, May 27, 2012

Carnivals under threat

While huge amounts of  money are being pumped into the top down spectacle of the Olympics, England's long established culture of African-Caribbean led community carnivals is under threat from a mixture of funding cuts and increasingly restrictive policing and licensing constraints.

The St Pauls Carnival in Bristol has taken place every year but one since 1967, with 90,000 taking part last year. But there will be no Carnival in 2012, with the organisers saying that they do not have the funds to organise the event and comply with the regulations.

Now Lee Jasper has highlighted that Notting Hill Carnival, the biggest in Europe, may not happen. The authorities seem happy to allow it to drift into being cancelled with the organisation responsible for it in recent years not functioning and local Councils making little or no effort to encourage any replacement. As Jasper says: 'The history of the Notting Hill Carnival and the reason for its existence are firmly rooted in the ideals of freedom, unity and community empowerment.  Sadly, much of the language and debate from Kensington & Chelsea and Westminster councils and the Police largely focuses on how the event should be ‘contained’.If the authorities, through a combination of stealth, political and economic destabilization, forced resignations and using austerity and the Olympics as their pretext are able to effectively close down Carnival, the nation and London will be the poorer for it'.

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