The Butetown Carnival, 2014 – 2015

A key theme of the Representing Communities project is exploring how to enable communities to speak about their lives, histories experiences, health and wellbeing through the arts. To date, our work with the 15th Floor Production has been rooted in a pop-up interactive exhibition, Video Viewbox – Butetown Carnival Remembered, that ran for two weeks in the lead up to the re-launch of the Butetown Carnival in August 2014. The exhibition was an immersive experience allowing carnival goers to reflect on the role of carnival and in talkling about the carnival, their reflections on Butetown – the place and her people.   We were drawn to the carnival as a site  in which to explore how understandings of community belonging (continuity and change, connectedness and fragmentation) are circulated and reformulated.  It also allows for exploration of notions of community wellbeing and resilience and re-presentation. The interviews collected as part of the exhibition are being analysed using traditional modes of analysis.   In April 2015,  the project funded 15th Floor productions to develop and lead a small project to platform the carnival as a way in which to explore what matters to people in Butetown, and what Butetown means to them, with a focus on understandings and manifestations of wellbeing and resilience (‘let’s get together and feel alright’ – A key theme of the 2014 Carnival).In promoting the film, Simon Campbell stated

Carnival celebrations will kick off early in the Bay when a week of special events starts on Monday, 24th August, with the screening of a new film, Butetown Carnival Memories. The film features video footage and photography from Butetown carnivals spanning five decades, some of which has never before been seen in public. The screening will take place in the heart of the community at the HUB cinema at CCHA @ LOUDOUN, Bute Street, Cardiff, CF10 5HW, from 6.30pm to 8.30pm and some light refreshments will be provided. Immediately after this event a photographic exhibition, Carnival Memories, will be unveiled at Butetown Community Centre, 40 Loudoun Square, Cardiff, CF10 5UZ. Sounds, food and drink will be available and both events are free. I would like to thank the people who have helped these two events come to fruition: Roiyah Saltus for her ongoing support through the University of South Wales and their Representing Butetown project, who funded the making of the video; Nasir Adam,\ from CCHA @ Loudoun, for supporting us and allowing us to use the venue for the film’s first screening; Carole Fox and the rest of the Butetown Community Centre staff for their help and support; Keith Murrell for digitising the carnival tapes and Anthony Campbell for editing the film; The Black Film and Video Workshop in Wales whose foresight and hard work resulted in much of the Carnival being filmed and photographed in the 1980s

As they have been doing for decades under various guises, the arts partners have produced their  our own representations of Butetown’s past and its future from a range of perspectives, continuing to find ways in which to platform the creativity and creative power of the community. As in keeping with the terms of our partnership agreement, all the interviews remain the property of  15th Floor Production, as do the films that have been produced. The interviews have been added to the extensive archive collection held by the Bay Archives. Adeola’s doctoral work is rooted in Mas; her contribution and involvement in the Butetown carnival  is older than this project, as her blog entry details.

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