July 2002, Volume 13, Number 7
When Chris Morley-Hall came up with the concept of running a carnival in Wellington’s Cuba Street, he had no idea what the future would hold...
This year’s carnival attracted up to 160,000 people -- five times the number that attended the first carnival in 1999.
Chris, who has a background in working in circuses and festivals overseas, decided to set up the Wellington carnival to celebrate creativity. “It provides a platform for artists to show off their skills to the wider community, and allows a much wider audience to experience things they wouldn’t normally experience.”
The carnival, run by the Cuba Street Carnival Collective Trust, also aimed to celebrate Cuba Street’s architectural and social uniqueness.
“It is a rare urban place where people live, shop and play in the same street.”
Wellington’s property boom has seen many old factory spaces and warehouses converted into inner city apartments.
The carnival, which received support from a number of organisations including the Community Employment Group, has had a range of spin-offs in promoting the area and those involved. Retailers report sales in excess of pre-Christmas business, and some of the 150 stalls came from as far away as Australia.
More than 1000 artists took part -- at least some of whom have gained other work as a result, such as a band that had music aired on the ZM radio network and a fashion designer who was offered a number of contracts in New Zealand and offshore.
One quarter of those who attended the event were from outside Wellington, two-thirds of whom were visiting especially for the carnival.
Chris says he had imagined that each year the event would get easier to organise as the lessons of previous years were put into practise.
“But it has kept evolving and got bigger, and each time there are a new set of problems to deal with.”
Critical to its success has been having a good organisational structure in place.
Having people on the trust with a depth of experience and knowledge has helped considerably.
“We’ve just had amazing feedback from everyone about the event.”
CEG fieldworker Greg Motu says the carnival continues to build on the success of past years.
“The carnival is an opportunity to showcase some of our leading talent from the entertainment and arts industries. Cuba Street is fast becoming a ‘must do’ for Wellingtonians, and is attracting visitors from overseas, adding value to the local economy. The carnival is fun, funky and free!”
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