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St Pauls Carnival in turmoil after council pulls funding

FUNDS WITHDRAWN: St Paul's Carnival in Bristol

THE FUTURE of one of Bristol's biggest events has been thrown into doubt after losing funding.

Funding has been withdrawn for St Pauls Carnival with immediate effect following a "loss in confidence" in the current board.

The St Pauls Carnival attracts huge crowds to Bristol - but it's only been held twice in the past four years.

Bristol City Council and Arts Council England (ACE) made the announcement on Today (Nov )3 following a meeting with the board of St Paul's Afrikan Caribbean Carnival Ltd (SPACC), reported Bristol 24/7.

The council is now looking for a new organisation to run the carnival ahead of the 50th year anniversary event in 2018.

The carnival currently receives £57,000 per year from the council, which was put under review following the cancellation of this year's event. It was also due to receive £271,566 from 2015 to 2018 from ACE.

The council promised the money will be reserved for "delivering a future celebration of African Caribbean culture, heritage and community".

A review found that the carnival has broken its funding criteria by failing to host an event twice in the last four years. It also found that the organisation does not possess clear plans to deliver events, as agreed, in 2016.

"Repeated concerns have been raised to SPACC’s board of trustees by the council and ACE. Neither side has sufficient confidence that the current board can deliver against the business plan which underpins their funding agreements," a statement said.

The council and ACE are now looking for a new organisation to run future events. Mayor George Ferguson is calling on the community of St Paul's to come together in the build up to 2018’s landmark 50th carnival anniversary.

He said: “A celebration of Afrikan Caribbean culture and heritage is of huge importance to this city and to me personally. I have always enjoyed the community buzz and the sights and sounds that fill the streets of St Pauls in the summer. I have asked for a meeting with community elders, members and local activists to discuss how, together, we can ensure the future of the carnival in the run up to 2018’s celebration.”

ACE South West area director Phil Gibby said: “We fundamentally believe in St Pauls Carnival and want to safeguard its future for the whole community.

“For that reason we are keeping our financial commitment to carnival in Bristol in place while we work with the community and our funding partners Bristol City Council to decide on the best way forward.

“We have a responsibility to ensure that public money is invested responsibility and that the community receives the benefit – in this case in the form of a great carnival the whole community can join in with and enjoy.

“We’re already looking towards the carnival’s 50th anniversary in 2018 and we‘d like to see it being a successful annual event for another 50 years after that. By working together we can build something that will give everyone the confidence that the carnival will happen."

A meeting between the mayor, ACE and community members will take place in the coming few weeks to discuss the future of the carnival and identify credible, experienced parties who wish to explore supporting its delivery.

As well as putting on a large, open, street celebration, any future organisers will be expected to run an education programme in local schools with the aim of raising awareness of African Caribbean culture and heritage.

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