Tuesday, 24 April 2012


This article appears in today's Leicester Mercury:
Budget cuts would throw doubt on carnival future
The boss of Leicester's Caribbean Carnival says a city council proposal to cut its funding by £40,000 could jeopardise its future.
Dennis Christopher also claimed the carnival was bearing the brunt of funding reductions because Leicester City Council was "too scared" to cut cash which goes towards festivals such as Diwali.
The carnival costs about £200,000 to stage and is part-funded with £100,000 from the city council – a figure which is now under review.
Mr Christopher said: "This is one of the most popular carnivals in the country. Such a large cut to our funding could potentially see us have to cancel it in future years.
"This is a direct hit on the Caribbean community of Leicester. I understand the council needs to review its spending on carnivals but I feel it is focusing on this because it is too scared to cut funding for events like Diwali in case it offends some communities."
The carnival, which is in its 28th year, attracts more than 80,000 spectators.
Other festivals and events also face cuts. Under the proposals, payments supporting the Castle Park Festival will be scrapped, funding for the Hindu festival of Dashera will be halved, while the Humberstone Park bonfire will lose all its financial support.
Geoff Carr, 42, of Uppingham Road, Leicester, said: "I take the wife and kids to the bonfire at Humberstone Park every year. It would be sad if it had to stop."
Mary Carter, 56, of Aylestone, said: "I'm not Hindu but I think it's great we celebrate Dashera here. It adds to city culture and I'd hate for us to lose it."
City mayor Sir Peter Soulsby said: "It is important to stress we are not proposing cuts to the overall festival budget. That budget of £365,000 will stay the same.
"Instead, we're looking at whether our priorities are right, and that each festival or event is being given a suitable amount of money."
Funding for the Leicester Comedy Festival, Belgrave Mela, Riverside Festival and the Christmas light switch-on is protected under the proposals.
Abbey Park bonfire, the St George's Day festival, the Diwali celebrations and the Spark Children's Arts Festival, would also receive the same amount of cash.
A consultation on the proposals is under way until July. Views gathered will go to the city mayor and his cabinet for consideration before final decisions are made in the autumn.
City residents are also being asked for ideas for a new festival.The mayor said an event similar to the City of Leicester Show was a possibility.
The event, held in Abbey Park until the mid-1990s, featured acrobatic events, military displays, show jumping, bands and more.To have your say, visit:www.leicester.gov.uk/ FestivalsandEventsConsultation

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