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Arts Award Successes for The New Carnival Company’s Mardi Gras Schools

Date Created: 7th Dec 2016

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Thanks to funding from the Arts Award Access Fund, five schools and youth organisations from the Isle of Wight who took part in the New Carnival Company’s annual Mardi Gras Parade gained 109 new Awards at Discovery (89) & Explore (20) levels this summer.

Working to the Mardi Gras 2016 theme of ‘Shakespeare 400’ – a celebration of the Bard’s life and work’, the groups used this as a platform to discover the arts in a wider context through heritage, fashion, theatre skills, carnival, costume design and make, dance and performance.

“We are going to create the most wonderful piece of art you have ever seen – carnival!!!!”
(Year 5 pupil, Holy Cross Primary School, East Cowes)

The Mardi Gras was scheduled to take place on 25 June but was regrettably cancelled at last minute due to thunderstorms. This did not stop our intrepid arts explorers’ enthusiasm, however, and the children and young people went on to showcase their work at school assemblies, sports days and at other island events throughout the summer.

Inspire, Explore, Create and Present are all part and parcel of our Mardi Gras approach, but taking part in Arts Award certainly encourages the children to value their experience and of course be valued themselves, as well as getting accredited for all that hard work.

What do you need to be an Arts Explorer? “Courage. Adventurous attitude. I really challenged myself”, said one pupil from Newchurch Primary School.

The children used scrapbooks, diaries, photos, videos, memories (reflection), and collected other people’s feedback from their performance.

12 secondary school students from St Georges Special School in Newport also took part in the Mardi Gras Arts Award programme, 10 at Discover, and 2 of them receiving Awards at Explore level. “Take your time and believe in yourself”, said pupil Louie, aged 15. The school chose Romeo and Juliet as their theme for Mardi Gras and did acting, singing and photography during their carnival project. “The teacher said it has really helped my reading. It has inspired me to learn about other Shakespeare plays and to choose Performing Arts in the sixth form”, he added.

In addition to some inspiring outcomes from our young participants, the project has left a legacy of 10 new trained assessors and artists on the island who can now grow the programme in other settings and over future New Carnival Company programmes. “We have learnt a great deal from running this scheme, which has exceeded all our expectations”, said Frankie Goldspink, Creative Director from The New Carnival Company. “If anyone else would like advice or guidance on how to embed the Arts Award into their carnivals or other outdoor arts events, we are more than happy to share. Just get in touch!”

The 2017 Mardi Gras will take place on Saturday 1 July at Ryde. The theme is ‘Reflections of India – 70 years of Independence’. Some of the schools have already confirmed they will be delivering Arts Award again with their participants.

(Words: The New Carnival Company)


Arts Award South East Bridge

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