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On Friday, we joined forces with Lincolnshire’s Transported Art to take a taste of carnival to Spalding for the very first time. Getting artists from the region to work with local community groups and performing in the evening parade, the thousands of spectators were wowed by the stunning results.

For years Spalding Pumpkin Festival has been a key feature within the town’s event calendar but this year the local South Holland council and arts organisation Transported Art decided to spice things up with a Caribbean carnival theme. They enlisted our help to achieve this theme and so a couple of weeks ago we began a project taking artists from across the region into the Spalding community to create an array of lanterns, costumes, and dance routines especially for the pumpkin themed parade.

First up, working with the John Harrox Primary School in Moulton, costume designers and makers, Jess Kemp and Laura Hill, and dance artist Tatiana Woolley spent two days with years three and four to make pumpkin shaped lanterns and a complementary dance routine to display their creations in the final parade.

The second group we worked with was Transported Art’s own local dance group. Based in Spalding’s South Holland Centre, the group who had never before experienced Caribbean carnival dance worked with Zodiac All Star’s Lewis Hunter and Tiffany Astill, learning two energetic routines and some fundamental carnival dance skills. When it came to Friday’s event, Lewis had created head dresses for the group and fellow troupe dancer Kennedy Hunter joined the group dressed in an illuminated carnival costume.

The final group we worked with came from Spalding High School. With an idea to make a large pumpkin inspired, illuminated structure, we collaborated with Festive Road commissioning a brand new creation to be made with the Spalding High students. After two days of creating, and a few more days back in the studio – the result was a wondrous pumpkin chariot pulled by a troupe of ‘pumpkineers’ wearing pumpkin toga’s and extravagant head dresses.

Bringing a professional carnival touch to the event, the Derby West Indian Community Association brought two beautiful carnival queen costumes – dazzling the thousands of spectators and representing Caribbean carnival for the region.

The last piece of the puzzle was a ‘Spalding Pumpkin Festival’ banner, created by Jess Kemp, Transported staff, and members of the Spalding community in the hours leading up to the parade. From lorry drivers, to young children, and even the local police officers the banner gave everyone the chance to have an input on Spalding’s very first carnival themed parade.

Tour Manager for emccan, Tara Lopez said;

“It was fantastic to see the hard work from the past few weeks come together to create such a strong carnival parade. In previous years the event has consisted of just two groups, we more than doubled this offering and you could clearly see the impact our artists had on the crowds.

“The wonder in people’s faces and the thousands of phones taking pictures made it clear to me that we were very well received. Our artists were a huge part of creating this level of wonder and spectacle so we thank them for their hard work both in the lead up to and at the event.”

Chair of emccan and Derby Caribbean Carnival, George Mighty MBE said;

“We are pleased to be building on the partnership we initiated with artsNK and Transported earlier this year through our Strategic Tour; taking Caribbean Carnival Arts out to rural areas throughout Lincolnshire.

“We want to share artist’s skills in schools and in the community so that more people can appreciate them, and for a greater understanding of Caribbean Carnival traditions and creativity.”

To stay up to date with what we’re up to, follow us on social media Facebook: ‘emccan’ Twitter and Instagram: @emccan_uk

If you’re interested in having carnival arts feature in an event, or if you’d like a carnival workshop to learn skills in dance, music, or costume please contact Tour Manager, Tara Lopez on emccan.tara@aol.com