It's Carnival - but not as we know it

June 2009

East Oxford’s most famous event will be taking place in a different location this year.  The Cowley Road Carnival, Oxford’s largest community-led outdoor event, will be held in South Park and renamed “Carnival in the Park”.

The move is happening because the event’s organisers are not confident of securing enough funding to close Cowley Road and turn it into a car-free space for the day. Closing the road incurs significant costs because of the need to re-route buses and ensure the safety of the thousands of attendees.

The Cowley Road Carnival was first organised by East Oxford Action, a social enterprise company which is now being wound up. Coordination of the event has been taken over by the East Oxford Action Charity, a separate organisation set up with the specific aim of securing the long-term future of the carnival. However, as a new organisation the charity does not yet have the funding to hold the carnival in its existing form.

Coordinator Danielle Battigelli said, “Initial seed funding has been secured from the city council and other funding applications are in process. But with very limited resources currently available, it does mean that it would not be possible or safe for the charity to put on a carnival on the Cowley Road this year.”

Carnival in the Park, which takes place on 5 July this year, will have many of the aspects that makes the Cowley Road Carnival a yearly success: community art, food, performance, costumes and a strong multicultural element reflecting Oxford’s diverse communities.

Organisers are hoping that that this year’s event will have just as much community involvement and support as in previous years, despite the change in location. The East Oxford Action Charity is asking residents to get in touch if they are interested in getting involved.

Danielle Battigelli said: “Carnival needs the people and the businesses of Oxford and Oxfordshire to come forward and offer whatever they can – volunteer time, skills, expertise, equipment, finance – to contribute towards staging a successful event this year, and to be part of securing and developing Carnival for the future.”

The charity plans to bring the carnival back to Cowley Road in 2010, but achieving this aim depends on raising enough funding in the interim period.      

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