Notting Hill carnival launches fund for bands and artists hit by cancelled event

·2 min read
<span>Photograph: Tim Ireland/AP</span>
Photograph: Tim Ireland/AP

The Notting Hill carnival has launched a fund to ensure that it can go ahead next year, after the Covid-19 pandemic forced organisers to cancel the live event in west London for the second year in a row.

Organisers said the Carnival Trust Fund would be used to “help support the carnival community”, including some bands and artists that might, without assistance, have had to stop performing.

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Matthew Phillip, CEO of Notting Hill Carnival Ltd, said the money raised would help to support participants and bands that have faced financial hardship after the cancellation of an in-person carnival.

“Notting Hill carnival belongs on the streets, but the Covid pandemic presented too much uncertainty to plan for a safe event over the August bank holiday weekend,” he said. “It also put bands in a difficult financial situation that had the potential to close them down, despite decades of history.”

A book, Carnival: A Photographic and Testimonial History of the Notting Hill Carnival, will be sold to raise funds, while proceeds from a series of live events will also go towards the cause.

Carnival Culture in the Park will feature traditional and contemporary Caribbean music alongside opera over three days as part of the Opera Holland Park festival, in central London, from 19-21 August.

Headliners include Giselle Carter, Trinidadian opera singer Anne Fridal and the Engine Room Collective.

Last year, carnival organisers pre-recorded live sets from musicians, conducted interviews with mas groups and sound system operators, and created guides for people to re-create Caribbean food in their own homes, as the street festival went digital for the first time in its 54-year history.

Jamaican reggae singer Koffee and the Nigerian Afrobeats stars Davido and Tiwa Savage all took part in the event, which was streamed over the August bank holiday weekend.

West London’s three-day festival of Caribbean culture is second only to Brazil’s Rio carnival in size and sees 2 million people attend, with established sound systems and live performers drawing huge crowds.

Phillip told MPs on the Commons digital, culture, media and sport committee in February that it was very likely that the 55th edition of the event would once again not be held on the streets of London.

He said: “It would be very difficult to hold carnival in its traditional format on the streets with social distancing in place. It would be devastating for a second year in a row.”

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