U-turn on £1.6m grant for carnival a ‘difficult decision’– Arts Council England

Next year's Luton International Carnival will be scaled down due to the cut
Next year's Luton International Carnival will be scaled down due to the cut

Cutting the £1.6 million funding for Luton based UK Centre for Carnival Arts was a ‘difficult decision’, according to Arts Council England.

UKCCA, which now fully operates Luton International Carnival, was dealt a huge blow on July 1 when it was told that it would have its three-year £1.6 million funding from ACE cut off from March.

The decision came as part of ACE’s 2015-18 investment package, in which 670 arts organisations shared a a £340 million pot.

As a result UKCCA chairman Hopeton Walker exclusively told Luton News that next year’s town carnival will be scaled down reduce costs.

Mr Walker added that there would be no chance of it becoming a biennial event.

The organisation is now seeking alternative grants from a range of funding agencies, while sponsorship from London Luton Airport Ltd will soften the blow to the carnival.

ACE admitted that the decision was a tough one to make.

A spokesperson said: “UKCCA’s application was assessed as making a contribution to the Arts Council’s goals, however the programme was highly competitive and other applications were felt to make a stronger contribution.

“In light of the limited funds available, and when balancing the portfolio we have had to make some difficult decisions.”

Although UKCCA has been omitted from ACE’s list of national portfolio organisations, it may get a slice of an annual £500,000 ringfenced fund the national body is pledging to Luton.

The ACE spokesperson added: “We recognise that, as a result of this (July 1) decision, our investment into Luton will reduce.

“We propose to ring fence up to £500,000 per year to work with stakeholders and partners, including UKCCA, to think about how best to work together to respond to the needs of Luton to create and deliver an excellent, diverse, sustainable arts and culture.

“We value Luton International Carnival and want to ensure that this remains something that people can access and enjoy.”