Start Date: 1967
End Date: On going
St Pauls Carnival
Address: Unit 4, The Coach House, Upper York St, Bristol BS2 8QN. Tel: 0117 9444 176
The first St Pauls Festival was in 1967. It was aimed at bringing together the European, African-Caribbean and Asian communities living in the area. The first carnival included steel bands, Scottish dancers and a weight lifting competition! The initial organisers were the St Paul’s and Environs Consultative Committee and the West Indian Development Association, aided by the vicar of St Agnes Church and Carmen Beckford, Bristol’s first community development worker
Francis Salanday became organiser in 1975 and under his leadership, the festival incorporated more elements of traditional Caribbean carnival, such as the Mass parade and sound systems.
In 1991 the event was renamed St Paul’s Afrikan-Caribbean Carnival.
In July 2005 the Carnival Management structure was losing its way and in the May it was clear that the Festival would not go ahead unless something was put in place to organise it formally.
Amirah Cole from the Management Committee contracted Carman McLaughlin and Carlton Romaine in May 2005 as site managers for the 38th Carnival. The timescales were tight and it became apparent that nothing was in place. It was touch-and-go as to whether the Carnival would actually take place but due to the dedication of Carman, Carlton and a number of other staff and volunteers it went ahead.
In 2006 the carnival was not held as the organising committee took a year out to re-structure and develop plans for a festival in 2007 which would be part of the commemorations of the 200th anniversary of the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act 1807. Since then the festival has grown in success attracting a reported 80,000 in 2011. The carnival involves over a thousand participants including sound systems, children from the local primary schools, artists, local sports events, circus, visiting groups, parents and officials, which makes it a vibrant carnival event.
In 2010 Carmen McLaughlin, who is the Carnival Officer, introduced a new stage to the festival sound systems, Soul2Sole. The stage showcases talented and anointed Christian artists and DJ’s to uplift and inspire the community of Bristol festival goers, and to bring a positive message of hope.
In 2011 Rebecca Gibbs became the new Chair of the Organising Committee for the St Pauls Carnival. A new initiative that was introduced was a text donation scheme to invite those attending to use their mobile phones to donate £3 towards the running costs. About 90,000 people attended St Pauls Carnival in July but only around 800 people text. It cost about £1.30 per head to manage the event and it now has to review the financial options in order to continue. In 2011 the funding figure raised fell far short of the £10,000 target carnival organisers had hoped for, however the carnival received £55,000 in funding from Bristol City Council and £55,000 from Arts Council England. Funding from the Arts Council is set to increase to in excess of £90,000 a year from 2012, however the city council funding has ended and must be reapplied for.
St Pauls Carnival 40th Anniversary Programme / Venue Magazine
Websites: BBC / This is Bristol / stpaulscarnival.co.uk
Thomas Fielding, Researcher