We Jammin’ Still – Leeds West Indian Carnival, 2017 – Part 4

Carnival Word Junction, 9 September
2017’s Chapeltown Word Junction’s theme was ‘Leeds West Indian Carnival’ and that year’s event was given the name ‘Carnival Word Junction’. Carnival Word Junction was held at the Reginald Centre in Chapeltown on 9 September. The free event began at 11am and lasted until around 4.30pm. The event featured book stalls from Peepal Tree Press and a stall run by Patricia Jones selling copies of her Carnival poetry scroll and the Community Highlights Family Fun Book. The centre was decorated with Carnival banners created by Rhian Kempadoo-Millar and Max Farrar’s Carnival stands. Refreshments were available at the cafe and guests were entertained by the ‘Melly Zakers Steel Pan Band’. The event was opened by Sandra Whyles who welcomed guests and introduced Dr Emily Zobel Marshall. Dr Emily Zobel Marshall spoke about traditional Carnival Characters and showed a clip of the film ‘Out Soul Turned Inside Out’. She spoke about the Midnight Robbers and her trip to Trinidad before performing her own Midnight Robber speech. Dr Emily Zobel Marshall’s talk was followed by members of the Harrison Bundey Mama Dread troupe in conversation. They gave a brief history of the troupe and spoke about their inspiration for that year’s theme, David Oluwale. Joe Williams was up next and he spoke about the Carnival Chronicles research team and read extracts from some of the interviews the team had carried out. The first half was ended by a performance by ‘Red, Green, Gold & Blues’. The group were led by Akeim Toussaint Buck and Sai Murray and combined spoken word and dance to present a performance inspired by Chapeltown’s sound system and blues culture of the late 70s and early 80s. Members of the group had taken part in a two-day workshop at Roscoe Methodist Church on 1 and 2 September.

After a break, tributes were given to Dr Carl Hylton and Paul Eubanks. The loving tributes included Patricia Jones reading her poem dedicated to Dr Carl Hylton. Patricia Jones also read her poem ‘Fifty Golden Years of Leeds West Indian Carnival’. The tributes were followed by Trish Cooke reading from her book ‘Tales From The Caribbean’. Max Farrar, Guy Farrar and Tim Smith discussed their new book ‘Celebrate! 50 Years of Leeds West Indian Carnival’, copies of which were available to browse at the event. Hughbon Condor was joined by his son, Seph, and grandson, Andre, to give a talk about costume design and show a slideshow of photos of costumes that the High Esteem team had designed over the years. Poems were read by members of Leeds Young Authors and Khadijah Ibrahiim read poetry and spoke about her journey to becoming a Carnival Queen. The event ended with a short open mic session and a dance performance by the Harrison Bundey Mama Dread troupe.

word
Trish Cooke at Carnival Word Junction (Photo: Danny Friar)

Celebrate! 50 Years of Leeds West Indian Carnival, September
A photo book, ‘Celebrate! 50 Years of Leeds West Indian Carnival’, was published in September 2017. The book was edited by Guy Farrar, Tim Smith and Max Farrar and collected together over 650 photographs of Leeds West Indian Carnival taken between 1967 and 2016. The photographs used in the book were taken by Max Farrar, Guy Farrar, Tim Smith, Leroy Wenham, Fabian Hamilton and over 30 others. Members of the public were asked to contribute photographs to the project. Speaking to the Yorkshire Evening Post in May 2017, Guy Farrar said “This is the chance for local people to submit their own favourite photographs to be considered for inclusion in the publication.” The book included a history of Leeds West Indian Carnival written by Max Farrar along with articles and interviews from the Leeds West Indian Carnival magazine archives. The book’s foreword was written by Arthur France.
The public got their first glance of the book at the Carnival Word Junction on 9 September and the book went on sale the following week. The book, priced £20, could be bought via an order form or the publisher’s website. Guy Farrar also sold copies of the book at the various Carnival events held at the West Yorkshire Playhouse throughout September and at the Leeds Film Festival in November. 700 free copies of the book were given to schools, colleges, universities and libraries across Leeds.

Carnival Chronicles, 11 September
In September, The West Yorkshire Playhouse held a week of carnival events that included two new plays and a screening of the Carnival Messiah film. The week began on Monday 11 September with the premiere of the play Carnival Chronicles. The play was written and directed by Leeds playwright Zodwa Nyoni. Zodwa Nyoni had used the oral histories collected by the Carnival Chronicles research team to write the play. The play told the 50 year love story of Melody and Cyril, two West Indian immigrants living in Leeds. The play featured key moments from local history and real-life memories from Carnival pioneers. The free play starred Lladel Bryant in the role of Cyrill and Ellie Manners playing the part of Melody. The plays choreographer was Akeim Toussaint Buck. Carnival Chronicles last for 60 minutes with no interval.

Queen of Chapeltown, 13 – 15 September
A second especially commissioned play, ‘Queen of Chapeltown’, was at the West Yorkshire Playhouse for three nights. The play was written by Colin Grant and was directed by Amy Leach. The play told the story of the first Leeds West Indian Carnival and was based on 10 hours of interviews carried out by Colin Grant in 2015. For the plays programme Colin Grant wrote “much of what they said was poignant, funny and at times incendiary.”
The cast of the play performed an exclusive extract of the play in the Reginald Centre on 11 September. Among the guests at the Reginald Centre were Angela Carr, Sheila Howarth, Pauline Mayers, Hughbon Condor and Arthur France.
Queen of Chapeltown was scheduled to premiere on 12 September but that performance was cancelled and instead the play premiered the following day. That performance was attended by Arthur France who returned to the West Yorkshire Playhouse on 15 September for a second performance as part of a birthday treat. Among those that attended the premier on 13 September were historian Joe Williams, artist Carol Sorhaindo, poet Khadijah Ibrahiim, designer Hughbon Condor, associate director and movement director Pauline Mayers, and playwright Colin Grant. Tickets for Queen Of Chapeltown were £12 and the play lasted 64 minutes with no interval.
The performance on 14 September was followed by a discussion with the cast members. During the discussion audience members were invited to ask questions and Angela Wenham shared some of her early carnival memories from her seat.

Cast
Raphael Bushay – Arthur
Emily Butterfield – Hilary
Benjamin Cawley – Raymond
Gabriel Paul – Tidy Boots
Elexi Walker – Beverly

queenof
Cast member discussion, 14 September (Photo: Danny Friar)

Carnival Messiah Film Screening, 16 September
Carnival week at the West Yorkshire Playhouse ended with a screening of ‘Carnival Messiah The Film’. The film version of Geraldine Connor’s musical Carnival Messiah was recorded at Harewood House in 2007. Tickets to the film screening were £10. The evening began with a performance by the Geraldine Connor Foundation who performed part of their new production ‘Forest Dreaming’. The film screening began at 8pm before which the director Ashley Karrell spoke about the film. There was a 15 minute interval at around 9.15pm. Before the show and during the interval guests were filmed speaking about Carnival Messiah. The interview clips were later used in a short documentary film. The film continued at 9.30pm and ended around 10.20pm. The audience included many of the cast members of other people that had been involved in Carnival Messiah over the years. After the film screening they gathered on the stage where a photograph was taken.

cast
Cast of Carnival Messiah at the West Yorkshire Playhouse (Photo: Danny Friar)

Leeds Light Night, 5-6 October
Carnival Kings and Queens, both past and presents, along with members of the AnnoyMas troupe, took part in a Carnival parade to celebrate Leeds Light Night on 5 October. The Illuminated Night Carnival Parade marked the official launch of the 13th annual Leeds Light Night. The parade began at 7.30pm and as well as including performers from Leeds West Indian Carnival it also included Handmade Parade, Cirque Bijou’s LED Umbrellas, DAZL and Spark! Drummers. The parade began outside the Leeds Art Gallery and made its way down The Headrow before turning onto Briggate. From Briggate the parade turned onto Commercial Street and then up Albion Street. Then around 8.30pm the parade made its way back to Leeds Art Gallery via The Headrow.

Leeds Light Night included Leeds West Indian Carnival in other ways during the two night event. The centrepiece of the event was the ‘Out Of The Aire’ display projected onto the outside of Leeds Civic Hall in the Millennium Square. Created by Ross Ashton the piece celebrated the many people and events that have helped shape the city of Leeds. This included Leeds West Indian Carnival. The recording of Lord Silkie’s song ‘St. Kitts Is My Borning Land’ was played while images of Leeds West Indian Carnival were projected onto the building. The Leeds Town Hall included a photo gallery of ‘Humans Of Leeds’ that included a photograph of playwright Zodwa Nyoni who had written the Carnival Chronicles play. The Light also hosted an art gallery titled ‘Arts & Mind’ that included photographs of 2017’s Leeds West Indian Carnival taken by the group ‘Snap Shot’. The ’50 Years Of Leeds West Indian Carnival’ exhibition at The Tetley was open until 11pm both nights with a ‘Carnival Creations’ workshop taking place on 6 October. Participants were invited to make their own Carnival masks using the materials provided.

light
Khadijah Ibrahiim at Leeds Light Night (Photo: Danny Friar)

Pyramid’s View On Sensory Carnival, 19 October
As part of a series of ‘Pyramid’s View On…’ at The Tetley, the High Rise Movement Group performed a ‘Sensory Carnival Parade’. The Sensory Carnival Parade took place at The Tetley on 19 October and members of the High Rise Movement Group, that included artists with and without learning disabilities, paraded around the Tetley exhibition to Soca music. Two one-hour performances took place during the day. The first began at 12pm and the second began at 2.30pm.

Pyramid’s View On The High Rise Carnival Songs, 20 October
The following day The High Rise Music group performed songs that they had composed inspired by their visit to the ’50 Years of Leeds West Indian Carnival’ exhibition at the Tetley. The performance began at 1pm and lasted for 2 hours. The performance acted as a preview of a musical performed later in the year.

Carnival Chronicles On Tour, 20 – 21 October
In October the play Carnival Chronicles had a short tour of venues within the community. One performance took place at the RJC Dance studio inside the Mandela Centre on 20 October with a second performance taking place at Seven Arts on 21 October. Both performances were free.

I’m Carnival Happy Exhibition At Leeds Library, 21 October – 3 November
The ‘I’m Carnival Happy’ exhibition also went on tour in October having previously been at the Reginald Centre in August and September. The exhibition launched at Room 700 inside the Leeds Library on 21 October. Guests at the launch were given the opportunity to speak to the photographers and designers that had taken part in the project. Along with photographs, the exhibition also included the ‘I’m Carnival Happy’ headdresses, a short film about the project, Max Farrar’s Carnival stands and copies of the book ‘Celebrate! 50 Years of Leeds West Indian Carnival’. Visitors to the exhibition could also pick up a copy of the free ‘I’m Carnival Happy’ newspaper that showed all 660 photographs. The exhibition ran until 3 November and included a ‘Carnival Happy Zine Drop In’ workshop on 24 October. Participants of the workshop were invited to contribute to a carnival-themed zine. Other arts and craft actives including mask making were available for children.

launch
I’m Carnival Happy Exhibition Launch (Photo: Danny Friar)

 

Max Farrar At Leeds Central Library, 27 October
Max Farrar gave a talk on the history and importance of Leeds West Indian Carnival on 27 October. The talk took place at Room 700 at Leeds Central Library between 1pm and 2pm. The event was part of the libraries Black History Month Talks that had included Tom Woolmore giving a talk on ‘Chapeltown In The 1980s’.

Leeds City Council Care Leavers Celebration, 27 October
In October members of the Harrison Bundey Mama Dread troupe performed at the Leeds City Council Care Leavers Celebration. The celebration was held at Leeds Indoor Kirkgate Market in the evening of 27 October. The troupe, dressed in their carnival costumes, included Simon Namsoo wearing the King David king costume. They performed a dance routine to the song ‘Full Extreme’.

Children’s Presentation and Adults Presentation Evening, 29 October + 11 November
Towards the end of the year two award ceremonies were held at Leeds West Indian Center. The first was for children under 16 and was held on 29 October. Among the awards presented were prizes for the Carnival Prince and Princess. A second presentation evening for adults was held on 11 November. The event began at 7.30pm and was hosted by Fluid Erie and Sheila Howarth. Awards were given for Carnival King, Carnival Queen, Best Troupe, Best Individual, Best Newcomer and Biggest Troupe. Awards were also presented for Best Individual Performer, Best Soca DJ On The Road, Best Supporting Carnival Entertainment, Best J’ouvert Independent Costume and Best Soca Monarch Entertainer. There was a dinner dance after the presentation and guests were entertained by One Plus Band and Daddy Rico.

Carnival Messiah At Leeds Film Festival, 7 November
One of the films shown at the Leeds Film Festival in November was Carnival Messiah The Film. The film was shown at the Victoria Hall in the Leeds Town Hall on 7 November. Tickets were priced at £6 and £7 and the film screening began at 8.15pm. Like the screening at the West Yorkshire Playhouse the audience included cast members and those that have been involved with Carnival Messiah. Among those that attended the screening were playwright Zobwa Nyoni and Leeds West Indian Carnival founder Arthur France. At the event Guy Farrar was selling copies of the book ‘Celebrate! 50 Years of Leeds West Indian Carnival’. Guests could also pick up a copy of the original 2007 programme. Before the screening, director Ashley Karrell spoke about the film and told fans of Carnival Messiah that they could look forward to a DVD release of the film. A short documentary film was shown before the screening. It featured behind-the-scenes footage and interviews from 2007 along with footage filmed at the film screening in September. Carnival Messiah The Film was shown in full with no interval.

Chapeltown Arts Carnival Creative Exhibition, 9 – 12 November
The Chapeltown Arts Carnival Creative Exhibition was launched at Union 105 in Chapeltown on 9 November. The exhibition showcased the work of local artists and photographers. The centrepiece of the exhibition was a collaborative art piece that had been made during workshops earlier in the year. The exhibition also included photographs of 2017’s West Indian Carnival taken by local photographers, some of whom had attended workshops earlier in the year. Also on display at the exhibition was the photograph e-book ‘Carnival At 50’ which was projected on the wall. A short film of the Carnival Word Junction that had taken place in September was shown at the exhibition. Visitors to the exhibition could purchase tote bags and prints of some of the photos. Also on sale at the exhibition were copies of the book ‘Celebrate! 50 Years Of Leeds West Indian Carnival.’ The exhibition was launched on 9 November and guests enjoyed refreshments and music. The exhibition then ran until the end of the weekend on 12 November.

arts
Chapeltown Arts Carnival Creative Exhibition (Photo: Danny Friar)

Carnival At 50 E-Book, December
In December, the e-book ‘Carnival At 50’ was published via the website issuu.com. The book included an introduction by Sandra Whyles and a Forward written by Dr Emily Zobel Marshall. Photographers that contributed to the book included Jonathan Turner, Emily Zobel Marshall, Sandra Whyles, Alex Clark, Peter McDonagh, Max Farrar, Guy Farrar, and Danny Friar

A Carnival Musical, 8 December
The High Rise Music Group performed ‘A Carnival Musical’ at Seven Arts on 8 December. The musical was made up of newly composed songs that had been written by members of the High Rise Music Group earlier in the year. The songs had been inspired by a visit to the ’50 Years of Leeds West Indian Carnival’ exhibition at the Tetley. The group had performed songs from the musical at the Tetley in October. A Carnival Musical began at 1pm and lasted for two hours.

Light It Up, 8 + 9 December
RJC Dance Youth Provision held their annual Christmas show in December. 2017’s Christmas show was titled ‘Light It Up’. Light It Up showcased the talents of RJC Dance Youth Provision members who were aged 9 -19. The show was performed on two separate nights at the Northern School of Contemporary Dance. The first performance took place on 8 December with the second performance taking place on 9 December. Both performances began at 7.30pm and ended at 9.30pm. Tickets were priced at £7. The show included performances by Saju Iqbal Ahmed, Leeds Young Authors and Shahck Our Youth Dance. The show also included a performance by the RJC Dance Youth Company who danced on the stage in their 2017 Carnival costumes.

Eddie Nestor, MBE
2017 ended with the announcement of the Queen’s New Year Honours List. Among those to be awarded the MBE was actor Eddie Nestor. Eddie Nestor is best known for his starring role in the TV shows The Real McCoy and Desmonds. Eddie Nestor and co-star Robbie Gee have been involved with Leeds West Indian Carnival since the 1990s and were both part of the entertainment at 2017’s King and Queen Show. Eddie Nestor was honoured for his charity work and services to radio; he has been a presenter on BBC Radio London since 2003. In a statement he said: “It is an absolute honour to receive this wonderful award. To be gifted the opportunity to reach out and touch people’s lives through the radio is something I could only have dreamed of”.

Advertisements

We Jammin’ Still – Leeds West Indian Carnival, 2017 – Part 3

Prince And Princess Show, 20 August
The Prince And Princess Show held on 20 August kick-started the official Carnival week. The show was held in the outside marquee at Leeds West Indian Centre and tickets were priced at £3 and £2 for those under 16. Present at the show was Arthur France, sporting an unofficial Leeds Carnival 50 t-shirt. Also present was Patricia Jones who was selling copies of her Carnival poem scroll. Before the show, some of the princes and princesses were filmed by ITV News who also interviewed Sheila Wilkes. The show was opened by a performance by the RJC Dance troupe choreography by Nillanthie Morton. Guests were entertained by the New World Steel Orchestra and Godfather provided Soca tunes as contestants danced on the stage. Among 2017’s contestants was Khiannah Stubbs in a costume titled ‘The Princess Aurora’ inspired by the Northern Lights and designed and made by Gloria Condor, The winning Carnival Princess was Tiana James-Travis in her costume ‘Princess Tiana – Animal Tamer From the Island of Paradise’ designed by Elease James-Travis. Mycah Williams took the prize for Carnival Prince with the costume ‘Heart of a Lion’ designed and made by Ferm and Ready Carnival. Made In Leeds covered the event and afterwards spoke to Tiana James-Travis, asking her how she felt to win the title. “Happy” she replied before adding “it was exciting.”

Prince
Carnival Prince Mycah Williams. (Photo: Danny Friar)

I’m Carnival Happy Exhibition At The Reginald Centre and other Community Exhibitions, August
The ‘I’m Carnival Happy’ Exhibition was launched at The Reginald Centre in Chapeltown on 22 August. Photographs from the photo shoots taken earlier in the year were displayed outside the centre. A free newspaper showing all the photographs along with articles on the designers and photographers was available from the centre. Inside the Reginald Centre was a display showing African masks, carnival programmes and a carnival trophy. Also at the Reginald Centre were two large material banners made by Rhian Kempadoo-Millar that had been at the Carnival conference and the Carnival launch in May along with wooden stands telling the history of Leeds West Indian Carnival.
The exhibition inside the Reginald Centre was just one of a number of small carnival displays held in the community. Tesco on Roundhay Road displayed a Prince costume from 2016 inside the store and St George’s One Stop Centre on Great George Street displayed a Queen costume from 2015 along with a display on the history of Leeds Carnival that included photographs and a copy of Patricia Jones’ poetry scroll.
In Chapeltown, the One Love Café on Chapeltown Road painted a Carnival memorial on the outside of their building and Carnival Village displayed a special banner. Photos from the ‘I’m Carnival Happy’ photo shoots were also used on billboard posters and bus stop posters around Harehills, Chapeltown and the city centre.

happyex
I’m Carnival Happy Exhibition At The Reginald Centre (Photo Danny Friar)

King And Queen Show, 25 August
Tickets for 2017’s King And Queen Show at the West Yorkshire Playhouse sold out within an hour of going on sale. One lady arrived at the West Yorkshire Playhouse early before the box office opened to ensure she got her ticket. On the night, BBC Look North broadcasted live from the West Yorkshire Playhouse and before the show Abi Jaiyeola spoke to Angela Wenham who said “I’m very, very excited for the fiftieth. We didn’t think it would get to the fiftieth anniversary of carnival. I’m very, very excited!”
The show, also celebrating its 50th anniversary, was set to be a spectator one. The opening ceremony was directed by David Thomas from Trinidad and Tobago and included masqueraders from St. Kitts and Nevis performing to Big Drum music played by Henry Freeman and Albert Henry. A dance performance included the Carnival Princess and Prince along with two Queens including one dancer wearing the Sun Goddess costume from the Tetley exhibition.
Introduced by Susan Pitter, the King contestants entered the stage first to perform for a panel of judges and guests. Six Carnival Kings danced on the stage in front of guests that included the Leeds Lord Mayor Jane Dowson. Among the Carnival Kings was Simon Namsoo wearing a costume called ‘King David Oluwale’. The costume was inspired by British Nigerian David Oluwale who lived and died in Leeds in the 1960s. The costume was designed and made by Alan Pergusey, Jane Storr and Joan Jeffrey with help from Aneesha and Hughbon Condor. Speaking to Made In Leeds at the show Simon Namsoo said “It’s something I’ve been passionate about since a little boy”
The King contest was followed by the Carnival Choir who were making their debut at the show. After a performance of Calypso and Soca songs, the first of the Queen contestants danced onto the stage. A total of 13 Queens danced on the stage for the judges and guests. Among 2017’s Carnival Queens was Leeds poet Khadijah Ibrahiim who wore a costume called ‘Queen Yemaya, Goddess of the Sea’ designed by Arthur France and created by the AAA Team.
After all the costumes had been seen, the Carnival Choir returned to the stage for a second performance. The Carnival Choir was followed by a comedy performance by Eddie Nester and Robbie Gee and a Calypso performance by 2016’s Calypso King Malcolm Connor. The star attraction was Barbados Soca singer Edwin Yearwood who had been a member of the band Krosfyah in the 1990s. Edwin Yearwood managed to get the entire theatre up on their feet including Carnival pioneers and guests of honour Arthur France, Willie Robinson, Rasheeda Robinson, Calvin Beach, and Ian Charles. Also present at the King And Queen Show was 1967’s Carnival Queen Vicky Cielto and the designers of the Sun Goddess costume Veronica and Irwin Samlalsingh.
After Edwin Yearwood’s performance, the winners of the King and Queen contest were announced by Susan Pitter. 27 year-old Eleanor Claxton from Leeds won Carnival Queen in a costume called ‘Hell Fire-Heaven Reign ‘designed by Hughbon Condor. Becoming Carnival Queen was no easy task and Eleanor Claxton told BBC News “I’ve been up until daft o’clock every day this week and it’s all been worth it.” Hughbon Condor added “There were times when we had to work really hard to get things done. Getting the mechanics to work was very difficult and there were times when it worked OK and then times that it didn’t.” The Carnival King was won by 21 year-old Athan Martin from Leicester who wore a costume designed by Lincoln Rahamut called ‘Splendour of the Glorious Sunset’. Sheila Wilkes and Susan Pitter were presented with bouquets of flowers for their hard work behind the scenes.
For those who could not get tickets to the sold-out event, a live stream was shown at Leeds West Indian Centre and Millennium Square in the City Centre.

queen
Carnival Queen  Eleanor Claxton (Photo: Danny Friar)

Caribbean Seniors Fundraiser, 26 August
To raise funds for the Frederick Hurdle Day Centre in Chapeltown, Soca Village organised a Caribbean Seniors Fundraiser. The fundraiser took place at the Frederick Hurdle Day Centre on 26 August. The event included live music by The Sugar Hill String Band from Nevis and DJs Red Rose and Rico. Elders could enjoy games of dominoes and bingo. There was also bake sales, a fully stocked bar and a barbecue pit.

Soca Monarch Show, 26 August
The Soca Monarch Show also celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2017. The show was held at the Leeds West Indian Centre on 26 August. Guests paid £10 for tickets into the show and were entertained by The Sugar Hill String Band from Nevis who had performed at the Caribbean Seniors Fundraiser earlier in the day. The string band opened the show and played several calypso and reggae tunes including ‘Mellow Mood’ and ‘Yellow Bird’. The show was compered by Soca B and Godfather. The Calypso and Soca singers that took part in the Soca Monarch competition were Lady Sonia, Iyahkayah, Gully Star, Captain Carnival, Lady J, Lion Paw and Mama Africa. Lion Paw performed a song called ‘Selfie’ and Captain Carnival sang ‘The Devil’. Lady Jay, who had come from Jamaica, performed a number named ‘Shake What Your Mamma Give You’ and Mama Africa from Barbados did her song ‘Solution To Youths’ Violence’. Gully Star from Antigua performed a song called ‘Fifty Years’ which won him 3rd place. Iyahkayah from Monserrat came in 2nd place with his song ‘Crazy’ and Lady Sonia from St. Kitts took the Soca Monarch title with the fun number ‘More of The Rum’. Guests at the show were also entertained by Lord Silkie who performed his 1967 winning song ‘St. Kitts Is My Borning Land’ along with a new song called ‘Freedom’. After the performance Lord Silkie was interviewed on stage by Godfather. The main attractions of the show were Trinidadian Soca star Baron and Calypsoian Dis N Dat from Nevis.

Black Music Festival, 27 August
On the day before Leeds West Indian Carnival, the annual Black Music Festival was held at Potternewton Park. Two stages were set up in the park; the Main Stage and the Beatz +Vibez Stage. The Beatz + Vibez Stage featured eight hours of music from 12pm to 8pm by DJs that included DJ Tinykai, DJ RNB and DJ Klash Dis. The Main Stage acts included local acts such as Graft as well as national acts including Peter Hunnugale, Vivian Jones and Carrol Thompson. Jamaican Reggae singer Richie Spice was the headlining act and was backed by Fifth Element Band. Music on the main stage began at 10am and ended at 8pm. The festival also included a Dub Zone were the Iration Steppas Sound System played.

Club Events, 27 August
With one day to go until Leeds West Indian Carnival began, sound systems began appearing on Harehills Avenue and Chapeltown Road and other parts of Chapeltown. These sound systems provided music for the community both day and night and helped to get people into the Carnival spirit. Among the most popular of these sound systems was the one positioned outside the Dutch Pot Caribbean restaurant on Chapeltown Road. House parties and private events were held across the city in the days leading up to the big day.
Several Soca and Bashment nights were held in clubs across Leeds. The Leeds West Indian Centre held a ‘Bashment Vs Soca’ all-nighter on 27 August. The event lasted until the early hours of the next morning so that revellers could take part in J’ouvert Morning the following day.
Also on the night of 27 August, Soca Village were host to the Soca band Small Axe from St. Kitts. Gates opened at 8pm with Small Axe taking to the stage at 8.30pm. The party lasted until 4am after which members of Soca Village joined Carnival revellers at the Leeds West Indian Centre in time for the J’ouvert Morning celebrations.

SS
Dutch Pot Sound System (Photo: Danny Friar)

J’ouvert Morning, 28 August
Leeds West Indian Carnival began at 6am with J’ouvert Morning. 2017 marked the 25th Anniversary of the first J’ouvert Morning in Leeds. Carnival revellers, some of whom had been up all night, gathered at Leeds West Indian Centre. Some wore bright and colourful outfits while others opted for pyjamas and dressing gowns or wrapped themselves in flags. At around 6:15am trucks carrying large speakers playing Soca music left Leeds West Indian Centre and headed down Laycock Place towards Savile Mount. From Savile Mount the J’ouvert parade made its way down Chapeltown Road where it was joined by more early revellers including Carnival founder Arthur France. Camera crews from ITV News filmed part of the J’ouvert Morning celebrations on Chapeltown Road. As J’ouvert Morning is traditionally a messy parade, participants were covered in powder paint, flour, talcum powder and wet paint and water sprayed from water guns and bottles. The parade then headed down Harehills Avenue by which time the party was in full swing with hundreds of people joining in the celebrations. From Harehills Avenue the parade turned down Spencer Place with people continuing to join in along the way. Max Farrar and Emily Zobel Marshall were among those that joined in the fun on Harehills Avenue with historian Joe Williams and artist Carol Sorhaindo joining the parade on Spencer Place. The noise of J’ouvert Morning from the speakers, whistles, drums and horns rose people from their beds and spectators appeared on roofs, at windows and in doorways. Spectators also watched from front gardens and roadsides, some were even swept up in the mayhem. From Spencer Place the trucks turned up Louis Street and headed back to Chapeltown Road and Leeds West Indian Centre. The party continued at Leeds West Indian Centre for those who were not yet ready for breakfast.

JM
J’ouvert Morning (Photo: Danny Friar)

Leeds West Indian Carnival, 28 August
Leeds West Indian Carnival 2017 began at Potternewton Park with entertainment on the main stage as troupes gathered in the arena. Carnival spectators began arriving in the park as early as 11am. The Carnival Committee had originally wanted 2017’s parade to include the city centre, mirroring 1967’s parade route. However, by April plans to bring Carnival to the city centre had been scrapped. In May, Arthur France told BBC News that he was “very sad and upset” at the decision. Leader of Leeds City Council, Councillor Judith Blake explained the decision saying “A lot of events are happening on the Bank Holiday weekend and with the advice it just wouldn’t be possible.”
Despite the new parade time of 1pm, it was around 2.30pm before the Carnival parade left Potternewton Park lead by Carnival Queen Eleanor Claxton. Speaking to ITV News on the day Eleanor Claxton said “It’s just a massive honour to lead the whole carnival for the fiftieth, that’s amazing, absolutely amazing.” The parade left the park on Harehills Avenue and from there it headed towards Harehills Lane. From Harehills Lane it made its way down Roundhay Road, across Barack Road and then up Chapeltown Road before making its way back into the park via Harehills Avenue. An estimated 2,000 people took part in the parade in a total of 35 troupes. The parade included participants as young as 3 years-old and as old as 91 year-old. One lady taking part in the parade was even celebrating her 50th birthday and wore an especially made t-shirt to celebrate the fact.
With very few barriers along the route, spectators were able to get up close to the masqueraders and join in the fun. However, this also meant that space for dancing was limited with most crowds coming into the middle of the roads rather than leaving both lanes clear. The first troupe out of the park was the High Esteem troupe that included four generations of the Condor family. At 91 years-old, James Condor was the oldest masquerader on the road. He had been asked to join the High Esteem troupe by his son Hughbon Condor. Earlier in the year Hughbon Condor had told Adelle Stripe “We’re trying to persuade my 91 year-old father to let us dress up his mobility scooter as a devil’s wagon, but we haven’t convinced him yet!” Hughbon eventually convinced his father and after the parade James told ITV News “When I was asked to do it I said ‘Me?! 91 years of age! No Way!’ But now…I’m glad”.

James.jpg
James Condor on the road (Photo: Danny Friar)

High Esteem were followed by the Valenteena’s Collective troupe whose theme was ‘The Egyptian Uprise’. Other troupes on the road that year included the Xtreme Mas troupe from Leicester lead by the Carnival King Lincoln Rahamut and the Zodiac All Stars Dance Troupe from Nottingham. The parade included troupes from across the UK as well as special guests from the Caribbean. The Zodiac All Stars Dance Troupe was followed by The Cultural Roots Carnival Troupe from Derby and Junkanoo Command Dem Masqueraders from the Bahamas.
Also on the road were Team Creative and The AAA Team lead by Arthur France waving the bright pink Leeds West Indian Carnival flag. When the parade reached Chapeltown Road Arthur France was joined by Vicky Cielto and the pair danced down Chapeltown Road together 50 years to the day since they had first danced down Chapeltown Road in 1967. Arthur France gave a quick interview with Made In Leeds while on the road. When asked how many more years Leeds West Indian Carnival would last he replied “Until the end of time!”
The AAA Team were followed by The New World Steel Orchestra who sported their new uniforms. The Leeds Jamaica Society troupe Age Is No Barrier, Golden & Younger Revellers followed in beautiful yellow and green outfits. They were followed by the Roscoe Trinity Community troupe whose theme was ‘Mystic Harmony’. Unity Carnival Arts’ theme was ‘Wings of the Caribbean’ and Harrison Bundey’s Mama Dread troupes’ theme was ‘All Ah We Are Migrants’.
The Harrison Bundey’s Mama Dread troupe was followed by the parade’s second steel band, Pan Nation from North London. Pan Nation was followed by the Ferm and Ready Mas troupe whose theme was ‘Beauty of the Caribbean’. Ferm and Ready took the prize for Best Newcomer Troupe. The AnonyMas troupe, whose theme was ‘Tribute to Gods and Goddesses’, was followed by Birmingham Carnival’s Professor Black’s Flamboyant troupe. Another Birmingham troupe, ACE Dance And Music, followed. The ACE Dance And Music troupe won that year’s best troupe award. The RJC ‘Light Up’ Troupe was at the tail end of the parade and danced to music provided by DJ Soca Haze. The parade ended with traditional masqueraders, dancers and drum and fife music from Nevis.
Made In Leeds streamed the entire parade live on their Facebook page which was watched by over 17,000 people. The live stream, directed from the Media Centre, was also shown on large screens in Potternewton Park, at the bottom of Roundhay Road and outside the Mandela Centre on Chapeltown Road. The Made In Leeds coverage featured clips filmed during the week that included footage of the Prince And Princess Show, The King And Queen Show and behind the scenes preparations as well as interviews with Arthur France. Made In Leeds presenters were also on the Carnival route and interviewed members of troupes, spectators and one African food stall owner who was asked the secret of jerk chicken.
The Yorkshire Evening Post reported on the Carnival the next day and quoted one spectator Diane Hinds, 46, saying “I’ve been every year since I was a baby. It’s definitely bigger and more vibrant, lots more people. It’s definitely one of the biggest I’ve ever seen. It’s been really fantastic.” Another spectator, Nicola Lester, 50, was experiencing Leeds West Indian Carnival for the first time. She told the newspaper “It’s been really great, very friendly, all cultures. It’s really nice to see.”
After the parade around 160,000 carnival revellers packed Potternewton Park, gathering on the hill overlooking the main stage. On the stage, awards were given for the biggest troupe, the best troupe, best newcomer troupe and for best individual costume. Best individual costume was won by Glennis Fleming  with her ‘High Priestess ‘ costume. Afterwards Barbadian music star Edwin Yearwood entertained the crowd. Carnival goers enjoyed food and drinks from the many stalls spread out across the park. Stalls in the park also sold CDs of Soca and Reggae music, DVDS, clothes, jewellery, art, ornaments, posters, toys, smoking paraphernalia and much more.
Official souvenir programmes were available at the park. People could also buy official and unofficial Carnival 50 merchandise including the official Carnival 50 t-shirt. Susan Pitter was among those wearing a Carnival 50 T-shirt in the park. Backstage, she gave an interview to BBC Local Live saying “If Leeds had a crown, this would be the jewel.”

With many garden parties, sound systems and food stalls in the streets and Carnival after parties held around Leeds, the party went on until the early hours of the next morning. Crowds at sound systems and garden parties on Harehills Avenue and Chapeltown Road spilt out onto the roads, which were still closed off, and onto the other side of the street.
Speaking of the Carnival, the leader of Leeds City Council,Councilor Judith Blake told BBC News “It’s a huge tribute to the strength of the community, we want to demonstrate to the world what we can achieve coming together”.

CP
Khadijah Ibrahiim on the road (Photo: Danny Friar)

Crime
Leeds Police praised crowds at Leeds West Indian Carnival for the lack of crime at the event. Speaking about the Carnival and Leeds Festival that was held during the same weekend, Chief Superintendent Paul Money told the Yorkshire Evening Post “we would like to extend our thanks to all those who took part in the events over the Bank Holiday weekend and who helped to make it a real success that Leeds can be proud of”. According to the Yorkshire Evening Post five arrests were made during the Leeds West Indian Carnival. These were said to be “mainly for minor assaults and alcohol-related offences”. However, two serious crimes took place on Chapeltown Road on Bank Holiday Monday. At around 1am on Monday morning a 42-year-old man was shot and stabbed in an attack outside the Nite Trax club on Chapeltown Road. Three men were arrested and later charged with attempted murder. Three people were injured during a stabbing on Chapeltown Road on Carnival Day. A 23-year-old man was stabbed at around 5.45pm and two women were injured in the aftermath.

Media Coverage
Leeds West Indian Carnival’s 50th Anniversary received a lot of media coverage throughout 2017. The Yorkshire Evening Post, The Yorkshire Post, BBC Radio, Made In Leeds, ITV News and BBC News all covered Carnival-related events throughout the year including the Carnival Conference, the launch, the King and Queen Show and the Carnival Parade. BBC Look North ran a week of special reports leading up to the Bank Holiday parade. BBC Look North presenter Abi Jaiyeola was present at Carnival events and attended the various exhibitions and plays that celebrated Leeds West Indian Carnival’s 50th year. The reports looked at Leeds West Indian Carnival’s past, present and future. The first report on 21 August included new interviews with Arthur France, Rasheeda Robinson and Ian Charles alongside archive footage. The following day’s report looked at the future of carnival and included footage of the Prince And Princess Show and the Carnival Choir along with an interview with Arthur France. Wednesday’s report featured an interview with Sanchez Payne and Malloy Lawrence at Sensation Barbers discussing what makes Leeds West Indian Carnival great. The following day’s report focused on messages in carnival costumes and featured Hughbon Condor and the Harrison Bundey Mama Dread troupe. Friday’s report came live from the King and Queen Show at West Yorkshire Playhouse and included footage of the exhibition at the Tetley as well as interviews with Vicky Cielto and Angela Wenham.
The BBC also broadcasted Colin Grant’s radio documentary ‘Queens of Chapeltown’ on 28 August and Abi Jaiyeola’s report on carnival was included on the programme Inside Out Yorkshire And Lincolnshire on 4 September. Zoe East from Opal Video Productions filmed and photographed several Carnival events including the King and Queen Show, Pop Up Carnivals and the Carnival parade for later use in a documentary film. Hannah Miller reported for ITV News and even made it to the early morning start J’ouvert Morning parade as well as the parade later in the day. One ITV report focused on the young people involved with Leeds West Indian Carnival and interviewed members of The New World Steel Orchestra, Leeds Young Authors and RJC Dance. Igor Taveres-Manuel of RJC Dance described Leeds West Indian Carnival as “The main event of the year, basically, and its life”.
Leeds West Indian Carnival made the front cover of Down Your Way, North Leeds Life and Community Highlights magazines. The latter included interviews with costume designers Sinclair Brown, Sheila Howarth, Hughbon Condor and Arthur France. Community Highlights also published a Carnival Family Fun Book. A special ‘I’m Carnival Happy’ newspaper was also published. The free newspaper included features on costume designers Renata Gordon, Hughbon Condor and Lorina Gumbs. A ’50 Years Of Leeds West Indian Carnival’ exhibition programme and the official Carnival programme were also published. The official saviour programme included articles on the exhibition at the Tetley, a tribute to Gloria Pemberton and a Leeds West Indian Carnival timeline. An article, ‘Popular political cultures and the Caribbean carnival’, written by Emily Zobel Marshall, Max Farrar and Guy Farrar was published in the winter edition of the academic journal Soundings. A photograph of members of the Harrison Bunde Mama Dread troupe was used on the cover.

Press
North Leeds Life magazine.

 

Reunions
The 50th Anniversary of Leeds West Indian Carnival was the perfect opportunity to reunite those that had been involved in the first Leeds West Indian Carnival in 1967. Carnival pioneers were first reunited at the Carnival Conference in May. Arthur France, Ian Charles, Willie and Rasheeda Robinson and Calvin Beach all spoke at the conference. Calvin Beach travelled from Canada, where he has lived since 1978, to be there. The 1967 Carnival Queen Vicky Cielto returned to Leeds for the first time in 50 years and was reunited with Arthur France in August and spent time at Leeds Carnival Centre with Arthur and Khadijah Ibrahiim. Arthur France and Vicky Cielto paid a visit to the Tetley exhibition where they were filmed by BBC News. Vicky Cielto was among the Carnival elders who attended the King and Queen Show and was reunited with Veronica and Irwin Samlalsingh. The pair had designed the Sun Goddess costume worn by Vicky Cielto back in 1967. Arthur France was reunited with former police inspector Roy Exley at Leeds Carnival Centre on 23 August. The pair hadn’t seen each other since 1992. The pair was joined by Wilie and Rasheeda Robinson and the reunion was captured on film by ITV News.

Nevis Honours Arthur France, 23 August – 2 September
In August it was announced that Arthur France’s homeland Nevis would be honouring him later in the month. Shelagh James, the chairperson of the Nevis Cultural UK Exchange Fundraising Committee made the announcement on 10 August. It was announced that 41 people from Nevis would travel to Leeds on 23 August to honour Nevis-born Arthur France on the 50th anniversary of Leeds West Indian Carnival. Shelagh James said “a decision was taken to honour him for his contribution to the island’s folklore and culture through the Leeds West Indian Carnival.” The group from Nevis included The Sugar Hill String Band, Masqueraders from Rawlins and Cotton Ground Villages, Calypsonians, a poet, an African drummer, a pianist, and a group of cultural dancers. The group were accompanied by a full media team and a stage crew.
The Nevis group arrived in Leeds on 23 August and attended the King and Queen Show at the West Yorkshire Playhouse on 25 August where the masqueraders opened the show. The following day The Sugar Hill String Band performed at the Caribbean Seniors Fundraiser and later that evening they were the opening act at the Soca Monarch Show. The Soca Monarch Show also included a performance by Calysonian Dis N Dat. On 26 August some members of the Nevis group spoke at the ‘Charting The Journey’ event held at Seven Arts. In the first half of the show, four members of the group spoke about their childhood in the Caribbean.
On Sunday 27 August the group attended a service of thanksgiving at St Aidan’s Church in Harehills. At the church, Premier Vance Amory gave a speech about Carnival and worshippers enjoyed music by the New World Steel Orchestra who performed a rendition of ‘Amazing Grace’.
Afterwards, a brief ceremony was held at Leeds Carnival Centre where a plaque was unveiled in honour of Arthur France. The ceremony was chaired by Keith Scarborough (Dis N Dat) who said “From one MBE to another, I congratulate you heartily.” Deslyn Williams-Johnson then performed a rendition of the Nevis national anthem accompanied by the Sugar Hill String Band. The plaque was then unveiled by Premier Vance Amory and Mrs Amory. Mrs France and Mrs Amory were presented with bouquets of flowers and band member Ray Phillip was presented with a birthday gift, having celebrated his birthday the previous day. The Sugar Hill String Band closed the ceremony with a performance that began with the birthday song. Speaking to Made In Leeds Vance Amory said “It’s part of history, it is part of putting together people from different cultures, different communities and it’s always important and necessary to celebrate those kind of achievements.”
Guests at the outdoor ceremony included Vicky Ceilto, Ian Charles and Veronica and Irwin Samlalsingh. The party continued at the Leeds West Indian Centre where guests danced to music played by the Sugar Hill String Band. Vicky Ceilto spoke to Made In Leeds about Leeds West Indian Carnival and said “It’s really fantastic to see how it’s grown over the years and it’s become so huge.”
Afterwards, Premier Vance Amory attended the International Cricket match between England and the West Indies at Headingley Cricket Ground. Meanwhile, Nayala Daniel performed at the Black Music Festival at Potternewton Park. Delly Ranks and X-Man performed as guest artists at Soca Village.
On 28 August the group of masqueraders and dancers took part in the Leeds West Indian Carnival parade. A civic reception was held at Leeds Civic Hall the following day. The group from Nevis were given a tour of Leeds on 30 August and on 31 August they paid tribute to Arthur France with a Nevis’ Folklore Extravaganza. Guests at the event paid a £6 entry fee and enjoyed a night of music and dance performances that began at 7pm. The event took place at the West Indian Centre and included performances by The Sugar Hill String Band, Dis N Dat, Deslyn Williams-Johnson, and Nayala Daniel. A raffle and two auctions were held during the event. The visitors from Nevis returned home on 2 September.

nevis
Masqueraders from Nevis take part in Leeds West Indian Carnival (Photo: Danny Friar)

Carnival Ballet And Big Send Off
In July 2015 Phoenix Dance Theatre announced a Carnival Ballet that was due to take place in the autumn of 2017 as part of the 50th anniversary celebrations. The ballet was to have an original musical score, inspired by Soca and Calypso, along with carnival costumes and set designs. The dance piece was to be created by Phoenix Artistic Director Sharon Watson who was going to work closely with Colin Grant who was due to interview carnival contributors in August. The ballet was planned to premier in Leeds before a UK tour that would include London, Hull, Bristol and Liverpool. There were also plans for a tour of Europe and the Caribbean in 2018. A press release was written and a photo shoot took place. The Yorkshire Evening Post reported on Carnival Ballet on 14 July 2015. Arthur France speaking to the newspaper said “The Leeds West Indian Carnival partnership with Phoenix Dance Theatre is a perfect match, reflected in our shared heritage and beginnings in inner city Leeds.” Colin Grant carried out interviews in August 2015 but plans for Carnival Ballet were later scrapped. Colin Grant’s interviews were later used in the 2017 radio documentary ‘Queens of Chapeltown’ and Colin Grant wrote the play ‘Queen of Chapeltown’ based on the interviews. The play premiered at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in September 2017.
Troupes from Leeds West Indian Carnival had arranged to appear at the ‘Big Send Off’ event held by Leeds 2023 at Quarry Hill on 27 October. The event was part of Leeds’ bid for European City of Culture 2023. Leeds West Indian Carnival’s involvement in the event was reported on the Leeds 2023 website on 20 October and on the Yorkshire Evening Post website as late as 25 October, two days before the event. Despite the reports, Leeds West Indian Carnival did not take part in the event. A representative of Leeds 2023 said “Carnival is created and performed by many volunteers who all do so in their spare time, unfortunately due to work commitments we weren’t able to pull together a troupe for the event.”

We Jammin’ Still – Leeds West Indian Carnival, 2017 – Part 2

David Lindsay and Lizzie Coombes Photo Shoots, June
Among the photographers involved with Leeds West Indian Carnival 2017 was Leeds based photographer David Lindsay. As well as photographing official carnival events including Pop-Up Carnivals, The King & Queen Show and the Carnival parade, David Lindsay also held a number of photo shoots in June. David Lindsay photographed Carnival elders at the West Indian Centre on 14 June following a photo shoot by Lizzie Coombes on 10 June. Carnival elders were in high spirits during the 10 June photo shoot and a video of them singing a rendition of the 1967 Calypso song ‘Archie Buck Them Up’ appeared on the Carnival Facebook page the following day.
David Lindsay and Lizzie Coombses were also responsible for taking the first official photos of some of 2017’s costumes. David Lindsay took photos of members of various troupes in costume on location at Tropical World. Among those photographed were members of the Anonymas troupe, Harrison Bundey Mama Dread troupe, and Jamaica Society troupe. David Lindsay’s photographs were first seen by the public on 20 June via the Leeds West Indian Carnival’s official Facebook page. Lizzie Coombes’ photographs appeared on the Leeds Carnival website.

elders.png
Carnival elders enjoying themselves at Leeds West Indian Centre, 10 June 2017

Carnival Treasure, 17 June
At the end of May, Leeds West Indian Carnival began the search for ‘Carnival Treasure’ – tickets, programmes, posters, flyers, invitations, trophies, and letters. These “Carnival antiques” were required to feature in the Leeds Carnival 50 Exhibition that was to be held at The Tetley beginning in August. Members of the public were invited to search their homes for items that could be included and take them to Union 105 on Chapeltown Road on 17 June between 12 and 5pm. A team of volunteers lead by Susan Pitter were on hand at Union 105 to catalogue the items as they came in. Items that arrived from the public included personal photographs, programmes and a collection of Yorkshire Evening Post cuttings.

The Big Reveal, 23 June
On Friday 23 June, Leeds West Indian Carnival held a Reveal event at Leeds West Indian Centre. The Reveal began at 7.30pm and early arrivals were treated to an “early bird giveaway”. The event showed off some of the Leeds troupes that were to take part in that year’s parade in August. Members of various troupes danced down the Carnival Catwalk. For Arthur France this was another great opportunity to show off his moves. Guests, who paid £5 admission, were entertained by Soca tunes played by DJ Toro and Daddy Rico.

Leeds Carnival On De Road, June – August
Between 25 June and 12 August, troupes from Leeds took part in other carnivals across the country. Troupes from Leeds played mas at four different carnivals in 2017. These were the following:
25 June Preston Caribbean Carnival
15 July Derby Caribbean Carnival
5 August Leicester Caribbean Carnival
12 August Caribbean Carnival of Manchester

The AAA Team and AnonyMas joined in the celebrations at Preston Caribbean Carnival on 25 June and AnnoyMas won the prize for ‘Best Visiting Band’. Preston’s 2017 carnival was their first since 2015 due to the parade being cancelled in 2016 after lack of funds. The Preston Carnival parade left Moor Park at midday and was led by Miss England 2016, Elizabeth Grant. From the park, the parade made its way down Park Avenue towards Deepdale Road and from there it made its way back to the park via Garstang Road. At the park revellers were entertained by DJ Quickdraw on the main stage until 2.30pm.
In Derby the parade left Osmanton Park at 2pm on 15 July. From the park the parade travelled down Pear Tree Road towards the city centre Market Place where guests were entertained until 6pm. Leicester’s carnival, held on 5 August, was a wet one with rain for most of the day. After the official opening ceremony at 12.30pm the parade left Victoria Park and travelled down London Road and Charles Street before returning to the park around 3.25pm. The sun eventually came out for the carnival-goers but not until the parade had returned to the park.
Manchester’s carnival, on 12 August, was a much dryer event. In Manchester, troupes from Leeds were one of the first out of Alexander Park, led by Arthur France waving the bright pink Leeds West Indian Carnival flag. After leaving the park around 12.30pm, the parade made its way down Alexandra Road and Chichester Road before turning onto Hulme High Street. From Hulme High Street the parade made its way to Quinney Crescent. From there the parade turned left onto Great Western Street before returning to the park via Lloyd Street and Claremont Crescent.

Pop-Up Carnival, July – August
For Carnival fans in Leeds that couldn’t wait for August Bank Holiday there was Pop-Up Carnival. The first Pop-Up Carnival event of the year took place on 8 July and was a double bill with carnival popping up at Leeds Train Station and Victoria Gate. Beginning at 12.30pm at Leeds Train Station members of the AnnoyMas troupe waved especially made ‘Carnival 50’ rags and danced for around 45 minutes to music played by The New World Steel Orchestra led by Melvin Zakers. Also in attendance was Arthur France, Susan Pitter and photographers David Lindsay and Zoe East. After the performance at Leeds Train Station, the troupe headed across the city centre to the newly built Victoria Gate where at 2pm they danced outside the John Lewis store to Soca music provided by DJ Mav. A third Pop-Up Carnival appeared at Victoria Quarter on 19 August. Again, members of the AnnoyMas troupe danced to music provided by DJ Mav between 1.30pm and 2.15pm. All three of these events attracted large crowds that joined in with the carnival fun. The Pop-Up Carnivals were also a great opportunity to promote Leeds West Indian Carnival and other events celebrating the 50th anniversary.

popup2
Pop-Up Carnival, 19 August 2017 (Photo: Danny Friar)

 

Civic Hall Ceremony, 11 July
Carnival founders Arthur France and Ian Charles were guests of honour at a special civic ceremony held at Leeds Civic Hall on 11 July. The meeting was held “in recognition and high appreciation of their outstanding achievements and to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Leeds West Indian Carnival, the lasting legacy of the carnival, and its significant contribution to the international reputation of the city”. Arthur France and Ian Charles received tributes and a standing ovation from council members. Leader of Leeds City Council, Judith Blake said the carnival had made a “legendary contribution to the rich tapestry that is Leeds over the last 50 years.” The Yorkshire Evening Post reported on the ceremony on their website that included a photograph of Arthur France and Ian Charles outside Leeds Civic Hall.

Carnival Choir, July – December
The Carnival Choir was formed at the end of July when members of the public were invited to apply for a position in the choir by sending in a 2 minute long video of themselves singing. Choir members were confirmed on 28 July. The choir was made up of 50 singers directed by musicians Christella Litras, Roy Johnson and Cleve Freckleton. The choir took part in seven evening rehearsals throughout August before making their debut at the Carnival King and Queen Show at West Yorkshire Playhouse on 25 August. The choir performed a mix of Calypso and Soca songs that included ‘Fire In Me Wire’, ‘Sugar Bum Bum’, and ‘Dollar’. The choir next performed on the main stage at Potternewton Park on Carnival Day (28 August).
The Carnival Choir regrouped in November for further rehearsals at Leeds City College Park Lane Campus. The choir made their last public appearance of the year on 15 December when they performed at the Mandela Centre. On that occasion the choir shared the bill with American soul singer Kim Weston.

Island Life Exhibition, 3 August – 28 August
Running for most of August, Union 105 held an exhibition of photographs by Derek and Tim Smith titled ‘Island Life, Carnival & The Caribbean’. The exhibition also included photos showing everyday life in the Caribbean during the 1950s and 60s as well Caribbean Carnival and more recent photos of Carnivals across Yorkshire. The exhibition included Derek Smith’s photograph of Trinidad Carnival in 1967 and Tim Smith’s photograph of Leeds Carnival in 2015. Derek Smith’s photograph of Bathsheba in Barbados taken in 1966 was used for promotional items including billboard posters and flyers.

islnd life
Island Life Exhibition (Photo: Danny Friar)

Carnival Costume Workshop, 10 & 24 August
In August a two-part Carnival Costume Workshop was held at Chapeltown Library. The first workshop was held on 10 August with the second workshop taking place on 24 August. The workshops were aimed at children aged 9 – 14. During the first workshop children designed their own carnival costumes using photos of carnival as inspiration. In the second workshop the children were given the opportunity to make their own carnival costumes based on their designs.

Our Soul Turned Inside Out, 11 August
On 11 August, Seven Arts screened the documentary film ‘Our Soul Turned Inside Out’. The film, first released in 2015, focuses on traditional Carnival characters such as Jab Jab, Jab Molassie and Neg Jade. Our Soul Turned Inside Out was written by Kim Johnson and directed by Mary-Ann Brailey and had been shown during the International Conference on Caribbean Carnival Cultures in May. Tickets for the screening were £5 and included a discussion after the film.

50 Years of Leeds West Indian Carnival Exhibition, 11 August – 5 November
The ’50 Years of Leeds West Indian Carnival’ exhibition held at The Tetley was launched on 11 August. Among those at the special launch event were Leeds West Indian Carnival pioneers Arthur France and Ian Charles and the exhibition curator Sonya Dyer. At the launch Susan Pitter gave a speech and said “we are going to give you the biggest carnival this city has ever seen”. Sonya Dyer and Arthur France also gave speeches. Guests at the launch were entertained by The New World Steel Orchestra.
The exhibition was made up of eight galleries that reflected on two key journeys – the journey of carnival from its West African roots to Leeds via the Caribbean, and the journey of Leeds West Indian Carnival over the past 50 years.
The centrepiece of the exhibition was the recreation of The Sun Goddess costume from 1967. The costume was made by Hughbon Condor based on photographs and memories. It stood in the Leeds Beckett Atrium along with footage of two interviews carried out by the Carnival Chronicles team in June (Reggie Challenger interviewed by Danny Friar and Felina Hughes interviewed by Klaire Heyliger) as well as BBC achieve footage of Arthur France. On the wall at the Leeds Beckett Atrium were lyrics from Lord Silkie’s 1967 Calypso ‘St. Kitts Is My Borning Land’.
Gallery 1, Beginnings, looked at some of the key figures in the development of Leeds West Indian Carnival and included photographs of Carnival Committees both past and present along with magazine and newspaper articles, a committee letter and various trophies.
Gallery 2, African Connections, traced the African influences on Leeds West Indian Carnival and included a costume by Arthur France as well as a programme of a play based on the life of Yaa Asantewaa directed by Geraldine Conner.
Gallery 3, Kings & Queens, concentrated on Carnival Kings and Queens and displayed photographs of past Carnival Kings and Queens.
Gallery 4, Music, Mas, Movement, focused on the traditional Carnival music and Masquerade and included a masquerade costume and three headdresses along with several musical instruments that included a Big Drum, fife and steel pan drum. The room also featured Lord Silkie’s recorded version of ‘St. Kitts Is My Borning Land’.
Gallery 5, Civic Role, included photographs that showed examples of how Leeds West Indian Carnival has impacted civic life for the whole of the community.
Another highlight of the exhibition was Gallery 6, Man On Hos Back, that included Hughbon Condor’s 2007 costume ‘Man on Hos Back’ along with a video of the costume at 2007’s Queen Show.
As well as the six numbered galleries, the exhibition also included a timeline on the walls that ran from Gallery 1 to Gallery 6 and the Shirley Cooper Gallery. At the Shirley Cooper Gallery visitors could watch BBC archive footage and Carnival Chronicle interviews as well as listen to a special playlist of Carnival music put together by Godfather, view photographs by Max Farrar and others, explore a map made by illustrator Teresa Flavin and see some of the ‘Carnival treasure’ collected by the community. Victors to the exhibition were also invited to share their carnival memories. More photographs were on display at the bar on the ground floor. The bar also included books related to Carnival that could be browsed by guests.
A limited numbered free catalogue was available at the ground floor shop. The catalogue included a forward written by Arthur France and The Origins of Carnival written by Geraldine Connor along with a printed version of the timeline.
Various exhibition tours were held during the exhibitions run at The Tetley. These were as follows:
19 August – Free Exhibition Tour
2 September – Free Exhibition Tour
16 September – Free Exhibition Tour followed by a conversation between curator Sonya Dyer and artist Joseph Buckley
30 September – Free Exhibition Tour
14 October – Free Exhibition Tour with Joe Williams and Danny Friar
28 October – Free Exhibition Tour

The exhibition also hosted other events including a Fantasy Carnival Garden (26 &27 August) during which children took part in carnival inspired arts and crafts, and a Curating Carnival workshop as part of Leeds Light Night (11 October). The exhibition was a great success with visitors coming from Spain, Germany and America to visit it. Among the many visitors was 1967 Carnival Queen Vicky Cielto who was filmed at the exhibition by BBC News. Due to close on 29 October, the exhibition was such a success that it was extended until 5 November.

tetley
50 Years Of Leeds West Indian Carnival Exhibition at The Tetley (Photo: Danny Friar)

Chapeltown Arts Workshops, 14 – 19 August
Chapeltown Arts held a number of workshops at Union 105 throughout August. This included a Carnival Creative Workshop held on 14 and 15 August. Lead by Chapeltown based artists Carol Sorhaindo and Sandra Whyles, participants were invited to use paper folding methods to contribute to a collaborative piece of work that reflected carnival and its costumes. Chapeltown Arts also held a Carnival Photography Skills workshop on 16 and 19 August. Lead by photographer Anne-Marie Atkinson, the workshop focused on the basic skills of taking carnival photos. Participants were encouraged to take photos of 2017’s Carnival and submit them to Chapeltown Arts to be included in an e-book published later in the year.

Carnival Heroes – August – September
The West Yorkshire Playhouse held a number of Carnival related events throughout August and September. To celebrate, a special ‘Carnival Heroes’ exhibition was displayed at the Newlyn Gallery inside the Playhouse building. The exhibition was dedicated to those that had made an impact to Leeds West Indian Carnival over the past 50 years. Among those honoured in the exhibition were Veronica and Irwin Samlalsingh, Alice Gordon, Felina Hughes, Angela Wenham and Gloria Pemberton. The exhibition was launched on 15 August and ran until the end of September. ‘Carnival Heroes’ were also uploaded to the Leeds Carnival website.

heroes
Carnival Heroes At West Yorkshire Playhouse (Photo: Danny Friar)

Chapeltown Community Play Scheme Celebrate, 15 August
Children at the Chapeltown Community Play Scheme celebrated Leeds West Indian Carnival’s 50th Anniversary on 15 August. The group based at the Hillcrest Academy in Chapeltown is made up of 50 children aged 5 -12. Arthur France was invited to speak to the children about the origins of Caribbean Carnival, its links to slavery and the first Leeds West Indian Carnival. The children spoke to Arthur, telling him what they enjoyed about the Carnival. The children made a banner, carnival masks and a display of carnival photographs. Some of the children had their faces painted and later presented Arthur France with a chocolate cake decorated with a ‘50’ candle.

We Jammin’ Still – Leeds West Indian Carnival, 2017 – Part 1

LWIC-50th-web-logo

Preparations for 2017’s Leeds West Indian Carnival began in late 2016 with Leeds troupes such as High Esteem and Harrison Bundey Mama Dread discussing and planning costume ideas as early as Christmas. 2017 was a big year for Leeds West Indian Carnival – marking its 50th anniversary. At the beginning of the year Arthur France said: “Let’s make 2017 the biggest, brightest and best celebration of the Carnival and the city we love – ever!” Events and exhibitions had been planned to take place throughout the year to celebrate the milestone. While the first months of the year were fairly quiet, from May onwards it was full steam ahead. Carnival events filled diaries from 1 January until 31 December by which time plans for Carnival 51 were already underway.

Leeds West Indian Carnival Committee Members, 2017:
Arthur France, MBE (Chair)
Brenda Farara (Vice Chair)
Debbie Jeffers (Secretary)
Stuart Bailey (Acting Treasurer)
Brainard Braiman
Melvin Zakers
Sheila Howarth
Norma Cannonier
Ian Charles, MBE
Brian Phillips
Yola Fredericks

I’m Carnival Happy Photo Shoots, January – June
The first project to kick-start Leeds Carnival’s big year was ‘I’m Carnival Happy’. Funded by Leeds Inspired, work on ‘I’m Carnival Happy’ had first begun in 2016. The aim of the project was to photograph 500 people wearing four especially made headdresses made by four different designers. On New Year’s Day 2017 Leeds Inspired announced the four designers that had been commissioned for the ‘I’m Carnival Happy’ project. The designers chosen were London born costume designer Melissa Simon-Hartman and three Leeds based costume designers Renata Gordon, Hughbon Condor and Lorina Gumbs. The search for professional photographers then began. Photographers were invited to apply for the position with the deadline of 30 January. Two photographers, Lizzie Coombes and Paul Floyd Blake, were picked to take the 500 photos. Lizzie Coombes’ job was to tour a pop-up portrait studio to 15 locations while Paul Floyd Blake took personal portraits of Carnival organisers and designers in their homes and neighbourhoods.
All four headdresses were ready by February and were first seen by the public on 23 February.  Photo shoots began at the end of the month with Arthur France being the first person photographed wearing the headdress designed and made by Lorina Gumbs. Paul Floyd Blake took portraits of 13 people that included Sheila Howarth, Brian Phillips, Brenda Farara, Stuart Bailey, Melvin Zakers, Susan Pitter, Ian Charles, Arthur France, Renata Gordon, Hughbon Condor, and Lorina Gumbs. Photo shoots for the general public began in April with the first shoot being held at The Reginald Centre in Chapeltown on 1 April. Other venues for the pop-up portrait studio included Trinity Kitchen (10 April), Inkwell (22 April), Leeds International Festival (25 April) Lumen Art Prize (28 April), The Carnival Launch (2 May), Leeds Corn Exchange (6 May), White Rose Centre (28 May), Bramley Baths (1 June) and Woodhouse Community Centre (17 June). Among those photographed at these photo shoots were Khadlijah Ibrahiim, Mitch Wallace, Arthur France, Eddie Nestor, Joe Williams, Susan Pitter, Reggie Challenger, Carol Sorhaindo, and Melvin Zakers. The photo shoots were a massive success with a total of 660 people being photographed.

head.png
I’m Carnival Happy Headdresses (L to R : Renata Gordon, Melissa Simon-Hartman, Hughbon Condor, Lorina Gumbs) (Photo: Danny Friar)

Inspiration, February – March
Leeds got its first taste of carnival on 4 February when Leeds troupe Anonymas performed at the Leeds Gymnastics Club Awards Evening. The Awards Evening was held at the Royal Armouries and that year’s theme was ‘Rio’ celebrating the success of the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
In February, members of the Harrison Bundey Mama Dread troupe visited carnival in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad. Among the group were Max Farrar, Guy Farrar and Emily Zobel Marshall. While there they were able to take part in the J’Ouvert Morning parade, take photos, carry out research and interviews and be inspired by Trinidad’s traditional carnival characters such as the Midnight Robber. Speaking about the trip to the Yorkshire Evening Post in 2017 Max Farrar said “one day she’s (Emily Zobel Marshall) in a house in a low-income neighbourhood in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, interviewing a very old man lying in a homemade bed about his life as one of Trinidad’s most famous Midnight Robbers, the Trinidadian carnival’s revolutionary ‘bad man’ figure.  A few days later she’s patrolling Port-of-Spain on carnival day in a cape and a hat, armed with a self-penned Midnight Robber speech.”
2017’s Road March in Trinidad was ‘Full Extreme’ by Ultimate Rejects. The song, with its chorus of “we jammin’ still”, became the unofficial soundtrack to Leeds West Indian Carnival with Arthur France often quoting the song’s lyrics.
Back in the UK, Leeds designers and costume makers attended a performance of Varekai by Cirque du Soleil at the First Direct Arena on 25 February. Before the show they were given an exclusive behind the scenes tour where they were shown some of the costumes used in the show.
On 25 March Renata Gordon gave a master class at The Tetley. ‘I’m Carnival Happy’ headdresses were on display and those that attended were able to make their own headdress using orange and blue feathers and gems. Among those that attended were Arthur France and Hughbon Condor.

Creation At Heart, March – May
Beginning on 13 March, Heart in Headingley held an exhibition of photographs by Maria Spadafora called ‘Creation’. The exhibition held in the Ridge Room included photographs of Leeds West Indian Carnival taken in 2016. The exhibition ran until 6 May. Photos by Maria Spadafora were also used on banners (and other promotional items) for Leeds West Indian Carnival 2017 around Chapeltown, Harehills and the city centre.

Carnival Chronicles Research Team, April – June
In April, Leeds West Indian Carnival put out an ad on their Twitter and Facebook pages as well as their website looking for research volunteers to make up the Carnival Chronicles Research Team. Headed by historian Joe Williams, the team was made up of ten volunteers that included Emily Edwards, Jo-Ann Eisenberg, Brenda Francis, Danny Friar, Klaire Hyliger, Michelle Lanham, Dan Purvis, Carol Sorthaindo and Esta Suma. Their aim was to research various aspects of carnival including carnival diversity, African inclusion, music of carnival and masqueraders as well as collect oral histories of pioneers of Leeds West Indian Carnival.
These oral histories and research were to be used in a major exhibition at the Tetley, a map-hand-out souvenir and a play in conjunction with the West Yorkshire Playhouse. (Due to time constraints the team were unable to work on the carnival map and the research needed for that project was gained separately.)
The team’s first meeting took place on 8 May at the West Indian Centre with a second meeting taking place at Seven Arts ten days later. Further meetings took place at the Carnival Centre and West Indian Centre in May and June. The team began collecting oral histories in early June with the first interview taking place at the Carnival Centre on 9 June. For around an hour, Joe Williams and Danny Friar interviewed Lord Silkie before being joined by Arthur France and the two pioneers reminisced for a further hour. The remaining interviews took place the following week on 14 June at the West Indian Centre. Susan Pitter had arranged a gathering of the carnival elders to take part in interviews beginning at 7pm. Among those interviewed were Reggie Challenger, Henry Freeman, Albert Henry, Rex Watley and Felina Hughes. All interviews were recorded and a select few were filmed. Food and rum were provided and David Lindsay took photographs of the Carnival elders while they waited to be interviewed. Speaking of the interviews in 2017 Joe Williams said “It was a new experience for most, because nobody had really bothered to ask before”.

DSCF4320
Lord Silkie, Arthur France and Joe Williams at Carnival Centre (Photo: Danny Friar)

The Launch, 2 May
The official Leeds West Indian Carnival launch took place on 2 May. A launch event was held at Leeds Town Hall. On display at the Town Hall were the ‘I’m Carnival Happy’ headdresses along with costumes from past carnivals. Guests were entertained by The New World Steel Orchestra led by Melvin Zakers. The steel pan music was enough to get Arthur France up on his feet. At 81-years-old Arthur proved he still had the moves. Guests were also treated to a performance by the AnnoyMas troupe who left the stage and waved rags, blew horns and danced around the tables.
Among the guests was Seth Condor who wore one of his dragon costumes. His photo was taken on the Town Hall steps and appeared on the Yorkshire Evening Post website the following day. The Yorkshire Evening Post spoke to Arthur France who said: “To be a part of this historic moment decades later in the city I love is a dream come true for me and I look forward to the streets of Leeds being transformed by culture, unity, colour and joy.”

seth
Seth Condor at the Carnival Launch (Photo : Jonathan Gawthorpe)

Power, Performance and Play, 19-21 May
In May, after two years of planning by Dr Emily Zobel Marshall, a three-day conference was held at Leeds Beckett University to celebrate Caribbean carnival culture. The conference, ‘Power, Performance and Play – An International Conference on Caribbean Carnival Cultures’, was hosted by Dr Emily Zobel Marshall and Professor Max Farrar from 19 to 21 May. Danielle Hall was the Conference Administrator. The event was supported by the Centre for Culture and the Arts in partnership with Leeds West Indian Carnival and attracted 160 participants including some that had travelled across Europe, the Caribbean, Canada and the US to be there. The conference featured 45 speakers in four parallel panels as well as a variety of workshops. The conference was opened by Arthur France who later joined other founders of Leeds West Indian Carnival in a panel that discussed the early days of Leeds Carnival. The panel included Arthur France, Calvin Beach, Willie and Rasheeda Robinson and Ian Charles who had all been reunited especially for the conference.

Using the research she had conducted in Trinidad in February, Dr Emily Zobel Marshall gave a presentation on traditional carnival masquerade characters with focus on the Midnight Robbers. Tony Hall held a ‘Brexit Devil’ Jab workshop during which participants were asked to draw their ‘Brexit fears’. Using the drawings as inspiration the group created placards and dressed in horns, wings and tails that had been provided by Emily Wood from Cabasa Carnival Arts. Some members of the group even covered themselves in mud. The Brexit Devils then danced in the rain outside the Rose Bowl building to the sounds of a tin pan drum. Other workshops were held on dance, design, poetry and traditional masquerade. The conference also included six exhibition stands looking at the history of Leeds West Indian Carnival that had been made by Max Farrar in April. Guy Farrar, one of the photographers at the event, photographed some of the Carnival founders stood with one of the stands.

The conference was filmed by four different film crews including Made In Leeds, Look North, a BBC documentary crew and Leeds Beckett film students who were making a documentary on the Harrison Bundey troupe. BBC Radio Leeds was also present and interviewed Dr Emily Zobel Marshall and Arthur France. Max Farrar spoke to the Yorkshire Evening Post and Emily Zobel Marshall spoke to North Leeds Life magazine who both covered the conference. Talking about the conference in 2017 Calvin Beach wrote: “It was a very well-organised conference. The presenters covered a wide array of Carnival experiences and were excellent. The conference certainly made us view ‘Caribbean Carnival’ in a much broader sense and light.”

A number of events were held in the evenings that included a screening of the documentary film ‘Our Soul Turned Inside Out’ at the Little Reliance Cinema, a night of Caribbean food and Soca music by DJ Soca Haze at the Leeds West Indian Centre, and a Black History Walk around the Leeds University campus led by Joe Williams. On the last night of the conference, a Civic Reception was held at Leeds Civic Hall. The Civic Reception was attended by 200 people and was opened with a speech by the Lord Mayor, Jane Dowson. The evening included music by the New World Steel Pan Orchestra, a dance performance by RJC Dance Blue Devils youth troupe and poetry readings by Leeds Young Authors.

conference
Carnival pioneers (L to R: Ian Charles MBE, Willie Robinson, Rasheeda Robinson, Arthur France MBE and Calvin Beach) at the Carnival Conference (Photo: Guy Farrar)

Caribbean Carnival Cultures Conference Interviews, May – July
During the Caribbean Carnival Cultures Conference in May, Max Farrar interviewed several people about Leeds West Indian Carnival. Seven people were interviewed in total including Founder and Chairperson of Leeds West Indian Carnival Arthur France and Leeds West Indian Carnival Co-Founder Calvin Beach. The interviews were filmed and made available on the Leeds Beckett University YouTube channel on 19 July.

Caribbean Carnival Cultures Conference Interviewees:
Arthur France
Calvin Beach
Willie Robinson
Rasheeda Robinson
Dr. Emily Zobel Marshall
Tony Hall
Professor Milla Riggio

Carnival Poems, May – October
Many words have been written about Leeds West Indian Carnival’s 50th Anniversary including four poems written by Leeds poets. Patricia Jones’ poem ‘Fifty Golden Years of Leeds West Indian Carnival’ was made into a keepsake scroll designed to be displayed in the home. Patricia Jones was present at various events in September and October, selling copies of the scroll. These included ‘Black History Presented By The Youngers’ at Church of God of Prophecy in Chapeltown on 14 October, at The West Yorkshire Playhouse throughout September and at the Chapeltown Word Junction on 9 September. Patricia Jones was one of the poets to read her work at the Chapeltown Word Junction and she read ‘Fifty Golden Years of Leeds West Indian Carnival’.
Also reading her poetry at Chapeltown Word Junction was Halima France-Mir. She had written a poem about her grandfather Arthur France called ‘Mr Carnival’. She had first performed the poem as a member of Leeds Young Authors at the International Conference on Caribbean Carnival Cultures in May. Halima France-Mir was among a group from Leeds Young Authors who read their poems on BBC Radio in August. Other members of Leeds Young Authors, Ginalda Tavares Manuel and Azalia Anisko, also performed their carnival poems on the radio. The performances were filmed and an edited version appeared on the BBC News website on 25 August. The three girls performed the poems in their entirety at Chapeltown Word Junction.

scroll
‘Fifty Golden Years of Leeds West Indian Carnival’ poetry scroll on sale (Photo: Patricia Jones)

Carnival Fever, May – August
In March the Chapeltown based charity Feel Good Factor received funding from Celebrate! Funding for their Carnival Fever project. Beginning in May the charity ran various workshops and activities that included Caribbean cooking courses, Soca dance classes, craft workshops and Carnival costume sewing. On 17 August FGF held a Carnival Fever party at Austin Burke Memorial Centre that brought together all the activities leading up to the party.

A Taste of Carnival, 29 May
On the May Bank Holiday, Leeds West Indian Carnival held ‘A Taste of Carnival’ family fun workshop. The workshop, founded by Art Council England, was held at Leeds West Indian Centre and was aimed at children under 16. At the workshop children could make a ‘bling-sparkling’ Carnival cup, learn steel pan basics with Melvin Zakers, customise their own t-shirts and learn the latest Soca dance moves with RJC Dance’s Nillanthie Morton.

Carnival Mash Up, 30 May – 2 June
Beginning on 30 May, the Geraldine Connor Foundation held a four-day Carnival Mash Up workshop at Leeds City Academy. The workshop was aimed at children aged 7-16 years old. During the week the children learnt about the history of carnival in Leeds and around the world and could take part in costume making, steel pan lessons and Soca dancing. On Friday 2 June, the children entertained friends and family members with an hour-long performance that showcased the skills they had learnt during the week.

Let’s Get Ready For Carnival, 3 June
On 3 June the New World Steel Orchestra held a fundraising event at Seven Arts in Chapel Allerton. The fundraiser, ‘Let’s Get Ready For Carnival’, to raise money for new uniforms and pan tuning began at 7.30pm. Guests paid £10 each (£5 for children) and were entertained by the New World Steel Orchestra whose members included Arthur France’s granddaughter Halima France-Mir. The evening’s entertainment also included two singers; Sadia Gillen and Jervail Buchanan as well as a dance performance by Funbi, Shammah and Deborah.

new world
New World Steel Orchestra at Seven Arts.