Lime interview - Community & Support
Carnival Village Trust
EDITOR - Vernia Mengot
This month Lime gets talking to Carole Morrison the new director of Carnival Village Trust.
Carnival Village Trust is a unique collaboration between its partners whose objects are to develop the art and business of Carnival. Their vision is to create a greater awareness of Carnival Arts. Carole Morrison, recently appointed as the new creative director for the Carnival Village Trust has worked at senior level at Arts Council London and Creative Partnerships; now she will oversee London’s development agency for Carnival Arts.
As the new director of Carnival Village, what does your role involve?
Carnival Village is primarily an agency focussed on raising the profile of the artists and artforms of Carnival. Carnival arts in the UK was born out of the cultural traditions of the Caribbean communities of the 50s and 60s and some of our founding partners reflect this heritage and represent some of the key artistic traditions of the Caribbean islands namely steel pan, calypso and mas’ (short for masquerade or costume making). So, our founding partners include the Association of British Calypsonians (ABC), Mangrove Steel Band, Yaa Asantewaa Arts and Ebony Steel Band. We operate across two venues at the moment – the Tabernacle in Powis Square and the newly refurbished building at the Yaa Centre just off the Harrow Road.
Tell us more about your vision to create a greater awareness of Carnival Arts.
My role is a strategic role; to raise the profile of the artform; foster critical debate and discussion, encourage creative collaborations and greater opportunities for the artists all of this will be done through working with existing and new partnerships. We are really interested in developing projects with a range of artforms and also working closely with designers, composers, promoters and programmers. Of course, a key element of the vision is also to work with educationalists and young people and we are building on some great work that is happening with our partners and within the learning and participation field.
You were selected for the prestigious International Leadership Programme run by the Cultural Leadership Programme funded by the arts council. What did this entail?
Yes – this was an amazing opportunity to develop leadership skills by working internationally. I worked in Sao Paulo, Brazil and I was in Brazil when Rio won the bid for the Olympics in 2016. I was one of 18 people selected by CLP to work internationally. Other candidates worked in India, Senegal, New York, Singapore, the Caribbean, Hong Kong and China. Hilary Carty was the Director of the programme and there are now similar programmes run by the Clore Fellowship and the British Council. Freshwaters Consultancy, Caret and Medar Pysden managed the International Programme for CLP. I worked as the International Partnerships Associate at the Centro Cultural Sao Paulo in Sao Paulo, Brazil. For 5 months I worked closely with the senior leadership team of this Arts and Cultural Centre conducting research on international strategy for the organisation and developing partnerships in the region.
Tell us about some of the work you have done on an international scale.
Since working in Brazil, I was also invited to work in Kenya on a project and conference that involved the Aga Khan University and a number of other organisations including the National Cultural Centre in Nairobi and the Centre for Heritage Development in Africa (CHDA) based in Mombasa. Many African nations have become magnets for big business. My work in Kenya was mainly focussed on exploring the emerging knowledge economies and translating these into opportunities for artists and for the educational arena. I worked closely with many artists and arts organisations in East Africa and continue to have close links to the region.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
I have been very lucky to date as I have always worked on things I enjoy. I have a background working on young people’s projects, with regeneration issues and within education and learning. I’ve always been interested in the arts – mainly visual arts, literature and film and I have plenty of experience working in Carnival arts. I was introduced to working with Carnival arts by a number of important individuals. It is always difficult to name names (as you invariably leave someone out!) so I will limit myself to those who are no longer with us including, Peter Blackman, Geraldine O Connor, Randolph Baptiste, Vernon ‘Fellows’ Williams, Lawrence Noel and Larry Forde. It is because of their achievements that we are where we are now.
So to answer your question - I have to say that where I am right now is a highlight of my career and whilst working in any artform is a challenge – particularly when the economy is so shaky - it is a privilege and a pleasure to be working with so many talented people who dedicate themselves (often voluntarily) to Carnival arts.
What plans do you have for the organisation in the future?
Our future plans including developing a year round programme of Carnival arts through forging collaborations and extraordinary projects with new and existing partners. We're exploring how our programme links with other art forms and arts organisations such as the Bhavan Centre and Apples and Snakes.
How important is carnival in terms of bringing together a sense of community?
Carnival as an art form already brings people together from across the generations and across cultures. We are working to extend the reach and understanding of this art form and cultural to all communities.
What do you love most about Carnival?
The thing I love the most about Carnival is tracing it back to the roots of resistance to Slavery and knowing that it is linked to a people’s ability to secure their own freedom. It’s a deep and rich history and something we should all know more about and understand. It is something to be proud of and something that is included in the future programme for Carnival Village.
Knowledge is Power
What does it take to be a great leader?
For me, great leaders are centred and rooted in something beyond themselves. They also have the ability to apply each of their senses at the most opportune moments and they also always seem to develop new ones!
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