What Does a Carnival Centre Look Like?

Carnival Centre Luton

Paul Anderson, Executive Director, will be at our Launch of the UK's first National Carnival Centre on Friday, October 24, 2008.

Also see Luton Carnival Arts Development Trust website 

  • Luton Carnival Arts Centre will create a focus for carnival excellence 
  • Developing businesses and groups that support carnival activity 
  • Training young people who are not working or already in training schemes 
  • Encouraging the African, Caribbean and other communities to take part.

East of England Development Agency has contributed £800,000 to funding the Luton Carnival Arts Centre, alongside support from the European Regional Development Fund and the Arts Council of England. The £6.8 million centre will open its doors in Autumn 2008, and Paul Anderson, executive director of the Luton Carnival Arts Development Trust, is understandably excited.

“It’s going to be phenomenal for Luton,” said Paul. “In addition to performance, rehearsal and workshop space, we’ll offer a huge range of classes for all abilities in Samba drumming, steelpan, mas-making, contemporary dance and stilt-walking. We’re setting up a massive core-skills programme – including an NVQ-level course to prepare young people for a Foundation degree in carnival arts in partnership with the University of Bedfordshire. To support this work we are writing the business case for establishing a national carnival archive – it will support our extensive educational resources for both teachers and young people. Finally as a way of attracting families to the centre there’ll be a crèche, as well as a welcoming carnival café and bar.”

The national carnival archive will contain articles, photographs and memorabilia charting 40 years of carnival history in the UK. It will be a key learning resource for the centre’s vocational courses, master classes, NVQ and Foundation-level courses, as well as a valuable library for carnival scholars from around the world.

Business and Economic development 

Carnival also has a significant business side, as EEDA executive Jason Wells explained. “The Luton Carnival Arts Centre is a key part of EEDA’s arts policy. We want to identify and develop the entrepreneurial and artistic spirit of carnival, and reach out to those groups – artists, stallholders, vendors, caterers – who often don’t seek or receive any sort of business support.”

Paul Anderson agrees: “The economic activity generated by carnival is massive, but the companies or sole-traders that flock around carnival don’t always have business plans. Our business incubation space will address that problem, and the street-market in the centre’s courtyard will provide a year-round trading space from which to operate. We’re very proud at the Luton Carnival Arts Development Trust to be addressing gaps in the funding provision for black and diverse organisations in the East of England.”

The Luton Carnival Arts Centre will create a focus for excellence in the carnival arts, raising performance levels and standards of arts management. The many small businesses associated with carnival, such as street traders, will also benefit.

Financial Facts and Figures 

The Luton Carnival Arts Centre has received £800,000 from EEDA, £2.1 million from the European Regional Development Fund and £3 million from the Arts Council of England. (Text sourced from EEDA)

Luton's annual Carnival generates £3m for the local economy.