Cowley Road carnival's new dawn as £50,000 deal combines celebrations with Alice’s Day (From Oxford Mail)
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Cowley Road carnival's new dawn as £50,000 deal combines celebrations with Alice’s Day
Buy this photo » Samba dancers in Cowley Road during the 2010 carnival Picture: Antony Moore
A UNIQUE deal has secured the long-term future of the Cowley Road Carnival.
Oxford City Council has stepped in with a £50,000 grant and a landmark contractual agreement to safeguard the event.
For the first time, the carnival will be held on the same weekend as Alice’s Day, which celebrates the city’s connection with the Alice in Wonderland stories, to increase visitor numbers.
And council officers have drawn up a string of obligations which carnival organisers must meet to unlock the funding.
The council is also devoting officers’ time and support to help organise the event.
Tens of thousands of people are expected to flock to the city on the weekend of July 6 and 7 for what has now been dubbed “Festive Oxford”.
About £30,000 of the funding will go to the Cowley Road Carnival, making up a third of its £88,900 budget this year – with the rest of the money coming from grants and fundraising.
In return for the council funding, which is guaranteed for at least the next three years, the trustees have had to meet a series of requirements.
Trustee Karen David said: “This is an extremely welcome vote of confidence in Cowley Road Carnival as one of the city’s most valued community events.
“Importantly, this funding base enables us to properly plan and raise the additional funds for Cowley Road Carnival for this and future years.
“We hope that Oxford City Council’s endorsement will indeed attract more people and organisations to get involved.”
She welcomed council staff working more closely with the trustees, adding the organisation would embrace the terms of the agreement.
She added: “We are looking forward to working more closely with the council. We have always enjoyed a good working relationship with them.”
The carnival, which was launched in 2001, is returning to Cowley Road this year after a two-year absence.
The council’s executive member for community development Steve Curran said: “I think it’s fantastic that it’s returning to the Cowley Road, and in a more sensible way.
“It’s returning to its rightful place, and it’s a fantastic opportunity for the people of East Oxford to get out in the sunshine.”
He said the details of the agreement were unique to the carnival.
He said: “In a sense, the Cowley Road Carnival is a risk. It’s not a big risk, but it is a risk, and the council needs to make sure it is protecting taxpayers’ money to the best of its ability.”
Alice’s Day is staged at the Story Museum and other venues every year to celebrate the first telling, in Oxford, of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
Story Museum co-director Tish Francis said: “We’re hugely encouraged by Oxford City Council’s announcement and what further support it might lever. Alice’s Day, like the carnival, is a festival with its roots in the community.”
The “service-level agreement” drawn up focuses on three targets: engaging with a diverse community, businesses and audience, co-ordinating and supporting education and outreach activities and using the funding to leverage other sources of income.
The agreement will be overseen by the council’s cultural development manager Ceri Gorton.
Trustees will also be able to go to the city council for advice, and Mr Curran also said he would attend meetings with organisers.
June 30, 2001: First Cowley Road carnival takes place in Manzil Gardens.
2002: A procession becomes part of the carnival, taking it into Cowley Road for the first time.
May 2004: Oxford City Council gives almost £10,000 to organisers.
March 2005: Council gives £14,000 after asking for £19,000.
June 2005: Organiser Henrietta Gill says the event could run over two days.
2006: The carnival is cancelled because of funding problems A food festival is held instead, with £10,000 sponsorship from BMW.
2007: BMW funding is secured for a second year and the Cowley Road Carnival goes ahead again.
2009: The carnival is scaled back and moved to South Park.
2010: After an Arts Council grant bid fails, the city and county councils pledge £35,000 each.
2011: Carnival held in South Park because of Iffley Road roadworks.
2012: Carnival cancelled due to Olympics and Diamond Jubilee.
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