Carnival Crossroads, funded by Arts Council England and Legacy Trust UK, an independent charity set up to create a lasting cultural legacy from the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, is a unique 18 month project which will go on to be part of the London 2012 Festival, finale of the Cultural Olympiad.
The Carnival Crossroads journey began in November 2010 when Keith Khan, who has 20 years experience of working on major national and international arts projects, was appointed Artistic Director of the project. In January 2011 the theme of Carnival Crossroads was confirmed as ‘Shakespeare’. An exciting research and development phase followed during which an innovative approach to carnival was developed that incorporated contemporary design references into the framework of the Shakespeare theme.
“This unique collection of carnival costumes inspired by Shakespeare were selected for their relevance to today’s culture and the Eastern region. This will help the UKCCA to strengthen the establishment of a UK carnival brand and identity.” Paul Anderson MBE (CEO – UKCCA)
In March 2011, a selection process was undertaken to identify regional artists to be commissioned to design the major costumes for five regional showcase events taking place in 2011. Prior to these events, 100 young people from each hub, who are the main performers of the Carnival Crossroads project, were trained in performance and dance techniques by a team of leading choreographers.
It is the Shakespearean story of Romeo and Juliet that is being developed through the theme of the choreography which depicts the struggle between the House of the Capulets and the House of the Montagues, whilst the costumes acknowledge the Elizabethan reference with ruffs and textile slashing techniques.
Carnival Crossroads was launched at Luton International Carnival on 30th May 2011 and then it went onto becoming a key feature at the opening event of Strawberry Fair on 4th June where the 100 strong Carnival Crossroads group from Cambridge led the crowds from the centre of town to Midsummer Common in a spectacular launch event.
The next destination for Carnival Crossroads is on the 24th June at the opening night of the Ip Art Festival in Ipswich. The group here will parade along the Waterfront from 8.15pm – 9.00pm, performing against a backdrop of barge races on the river.
The project moves onto Norwich on 9th July, where the Carnival Crossroads contingent will participate in the Lord Mayor’s Parade. Finally, on 20th August the 100 strong group from Southend will participate in the night time carnival that will pass along the promenade from 7.30pm -10.00pm.
For the London 2012 Festival, an additional element will be added to the project, in the form of two spectacular floats that will be designed by visiting international artists from Brazil who will work alongside community artists at the UKCCA.
On 7th July 2012, 500 regional participants will come together in a ‘super group’ at Luton International Carnival to showcase a unique expression of carnival arts, the quality and narrative of which will be ground breaking and bear testimony to the power of carnival arts to transform and connect communities.
“The London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games offers an unprecedented opportunity for the UK to cement its reputation as a world-leader in culture. Arts Council is delighted to support projects such as this that celebrate creativity, expression and imagination, and that reach out to the broadest audiences. Carnival is a truly celebratory artform and one that brings people together.
The UK Centre for Carnival Arts continues to blaze a trail for carnival throughout the country, and these summer showcase events give people from across the East of England an opportunity to get an early peek at a key event that will represent the best of the country as part of the London 2012 Festival” Helen Lax, Regional Director, Arts Council England
You can learn more about Carnival Crossroads at: www.carnivalcrossroads.org.uk