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The end of the road for Reading carnival

FUNDING PROBLEMS: Lack of money has led to this year’s Reading Carnival being can

THE FUTRE of the Reading Carnival is in doubt after organisers were forced to cancel this year’s event due to a cash crunch.

Earlier this month, the team behind the annual event announced that it will not take place on May bank holiday as planned, in what would have been its 36th year.

A statement from the Reading Carnival Organising Committee said that a cash crisis was behind the controversial decision.

It said: “After careful consideration and consultation meetings with relevant parties, we have reluctantly made the difficult decision to cancel the forthcoming carnival for this year 2013. We apologise for any inconvenience this may have caused those who have planned to participate.

The statement continued: “This decision has been made as a result of the rising costs incurred by the event and the lack of funding that is available to us in the current year. Reading Carnival has experienced a reduction in the amount of investment available to it in previous years.”

Despite the cash crunch, the carnival’s organisers said: “We have been encouraged by the larger crowd in attendance and the positive feedback we have received, that our efforts and vision for what the event should be are working towards the community’s expectations. These changes however, do come at a cost.”

Last week, the carnival’s committee members held the first of a series of meetings to see how the situation could be resolved.

A committee spokesperson said that it would be working towards ensuring there would be enough funding available to hold future carnivals in the town.

He added that strong links had been formed with Reading Borough Council, Thames Valley Police and other local organisations in a bid to improve the event.

Local people were quick to express their disappointment on the organising committee’s Facebook page.

Local man Neil Reeves wrote: “Very disappointing!!! I now have a spare sound system for bank holiday Sunday and Monday and would be a shame not to have some sort of celebration of Carribean music.”
Errol Masters, also from the area, said: “Real shame that….. let’s hope next year will be bigger and better.”

FRUSTRATION

Another local resident remarked: “And they wonder why the youth have so much pent up frustration while taking away any means of positive release?”

“Teresa Yearwood wrote: “Wow, carnival is such a big event, one that I look forward to showing and sharing with the children. Carnival has been every year since I was just a youngster, how sad for everyone."

Reading Carnival was founded in 1977 as an event to celebrate the Queen’s Silver Jubilee of that year.

Since then it has developed into a community event maintaining a Caribbean theme, with representatives from all of the region’s islands.

However, there is a strong Bajan presence reflecting the strength of this community in Reading.

Since the event’s formation the Reading Carnival has attracted thousands of revelers. Like London’s Notting Hill Carnival, Reading Carnival features dancers, floats and spectacular costumes followed by a big party in the town’s Prospect Park.

Reading Council leader Jo Lovelock said she was disappointed that this year’s event was not going ahead and pledged the council’s continued support.

The council had already agreed that they would support this year’s event to the tune of £10,500 before the news of its cancellation was announced.

Councillor Lovelock said: “The Reading Carnival has been an annual fixture in the town for many years and has been very valuable event in the community.

“There has been no change in the grant we offered them this year and we have always given them help in kind with support from officers, which is something you cannot put a figure on.

“Obviously we are very disappointed that they have decided not to run it this year and hope this is a temporary issue, and we will be happy to work with them to get it back on track for 2014.”

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