Carnival Centre of Excellence for the North gets underway

Artist's impression of the Vale, home of the Carnival Centre of Excellence in the North. Pic Global Grooves

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Paul Genty

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Transformation will turn old mill town into a carnival hub

Work has begun on turning an old Mossley, Lancashire mill building into the Carnival Centre of Excellence in the North.

Builders have started work on the £1 million project to turn the Vale Mill, in Micklehurst Road, Mossley, into a carnival arts centre. 

The start follows a grant of almost £240,000 from the Culture Recovery Fund before Christmas, and almost £500,000 from Arts Council England at the start of the project. Money has also come from local sources such as the town council and youth organisations.

Phase one of the CCEN was due to open to the public in spring 2020, but the pandemic has pushed this back around 18 months. 

The centre, operated by carnival arts organisation Global Grooves, will feature a small theatre, live music space, studios and even accommodation for what it hopes will be visiting national and international artists. The CCEN will run live music, theatre, dance and cinema as Global Grooves continues to work on large-scale carnival productions, courses and workshops. The new centre will be only the second building dedicated to the development of carnival arts in England.

The building is already an arts and learning centre, The Vale, opened in 2015 by Global Grooves and Cabasa Carnival Arts. 

Global Grooves almost suffered a fatal blow in March 2018, when a devastating fire at its storage mill destroyed five years’ worth of carnival works, giant puppets and elaborate costumes.

Global Grooves, founded in 2003, now works on carnivals all over the world. The organisation was founded by friends Holly Prest, Eraldo Marques and Leon Patel – and keeping it local, Leon and Holly met at a community music project in Mossley when they were 13.

Now one of Arts Council England’s “National Portfolio” organisations (meaning it has been guaranteed funding of £125,000 a year from 2018-22), Global Grooves performs regularly to audiences of over 45,000 and has worked with thousands of participants.

CEO Leon Patel said: “Global Grooves has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create a world class arts facility in Tameside, consolidating all our activities in one place, catalysing a borough-wide engagement with arts and carnival, and building a locally-rooted, internationally connected, resilient and sustainable arts organisation.”

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