Could Notting Hill Carnival be staying online for 2021?

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Notting Hill Carnival is in danger of being cancelled for the second year in succession if social distancing measures aren’t eased, that’s according to Matthew Phillip, the Chief Executive of Notting Hill Carnival Ltd.

Speaking on Tuesday at a Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee meeting, Matthew Phillip, who is the Chief Executive of Notting Hill Carnival Ltd commented on the impact in which the pandemic continues to have on any future plans to have the event run in a physical capacity.

Speaking at the meeting Phillip said:

 “It would be very difficult to hold Carnival in its traditional format on the streets with social distancing in place. It would be devastating for a second year in a row.”

Phillip acknowledged that cancellation of the event would mean that the ‘traditional format’ which until last year had run uninterrupted for 54 years would have to be altered. He said: “It would not take place in its traditional format. We would always hope to do something.

“Carnival means too much to too many people for us to simply ignore it so we would always try to find a way of celebrating Carnival for its artistry and what it means to the community.”

Beyond acknowledging its significance to the community and the reality that adaptation was likely, Phillip reaffirmed that Carnival was ‘resilient’.  

“Carnival is and always has been very resilient. We will continue to plan for multiple scenarios.” 

As has been noted, it would be the second successive year that Notting Hill carnival has had to change course and operate online. When the original announcement of last year’s change was announced, Phillip spoke of “the responsibility” the organisation had to its community and pioneers to honour the event’s importance.

Last year’s online parade was streamed on YouTube and featured over 30 traditional street performance groups, the option to choose between 14 sound systems, an additional 15 steel bands to watch. It also included live performances from Nessa Preppy, Kes and Moyan, while the BBC 1xtra got involved hosting artists such as Koffee and Gracious K. 

Adhering to measures put in place to stem the rise in covid-19 cases was bound to have some impact, even with the optimism that the virus would be under greater control by now. If it’s any consolation, last year’s event means that this time around, organisers will have a blueprint for better success if it is to be an online festival in 2021.

Mayowa Ayodele

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