The New Carnival Company (NCC) is based in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) on the Isle of Wight. They deliver an all-year-round programme of carnival workshops, training courses, events and seminars, at least two large scale and ambitious outdoor events annually and an extensive community outreach programme.
Sustainable creative programming
Over the past two years, creative programming has been centred around the natural environment. Each year, the Company kick-starts the island carnival season with The Isle of Wight Mardi Gras, held annually in June, engaging schools and community groups from across the island in learning, making and performing. Both the 2018 and the 2019 Mardi Gras were co-funded by the local AONB and themed around understanding and appreciation of the biosphere. The theme for the 2019 Mardi Gras parade was ‘Biosphere Island’. All 28 participating schools were required to partner with a local environmental organisation to learn about and then creatively present work, actively supporting the island’s application to be recognised as only the third English designated UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. This designation was approved in June 2019.
Other programming included ‘All along the Riverbank’, a collaboration with local environmental and heritage organisations, animating a two mile stretch of the Easter Yar River with temporary installations, from water voles to emperor dragonflies and giant red squirrels, created by school and community groups. The local organisations involved supported the route by sharing information and recruiting volunteers with support from the Landscape Partnership Heritage grant funding. The Company also programmed Dark Nights; a night-time event, as the clocks go back, with an animated lantern trail through fields and woods to learn more about the local landscape and heritage of the area. Community collaboration across environment, culture and heritage will continue to be a key feature of the Company’s work.
In its capacity as secretariat for Carnival Network South, the Company has worked with the network to fundraise for new work on using sustainable and natural materials in carnival production. Carnival Network South has been awarded an Arts Council England project grant to deliver ‘Towards a Greener Carnival’ conference in Bristol in March 2020 and to commission trial work with three national carnival projects including Hasting, Milton Keynes and the Isle of Wight, which will be managed by NCC.
Photo credits: Tracy Curtis