Pax Nindi


Pax Nindi Carnival Conference March 2013

Here’s One We Made Earlier. The 2nd Carnival Archive Conference March 15th and 16th 2013

Pax Nindi: Welcome

Pax Nindi Transcript (Click to read/hide)

Hilary Carty:

I’m now going to welcome to his own stage Pax Nindi. Pax of course has been around for a very long time, one of our most experienced and talented carnivalists, and a musician in his own right, so only fitting of course that he is here as Artistic Director of UKCCA. Pax is going to welcome us to his house and talk to us a little bit about what you’re doing with carnival.

Pax Nindi:

I’ve written some calypso so I’ll be showing you in a second.

I’ve been asked to come and welcome you, and in the sense of Carnival nothing goes on time, and if it’s me nothing’s actually going according to what’s on the paper.

I’ll start by thanking you instead of welcoming you, and then I’ll do the welcome afterwards if you don’t mind.

The first thing I’m going to say is good morning to you, no don’t answer, because if it was me sitting there it’s not a good morning it’s a good afternoon, I’m sort of 6 hours behind.

Anyway I’ll say thank you afterwards, not now, but to break the rules I’m going to thank you for being here, so you need to give yourself a big round of applause for being here, and then I’m going to talk about archive, because I want to break the rules. I’m not going to talk about welcoming you here, because I’ve already done that with the thank you.

Somebody said to me after I’d done it to talk about Carnival, ‘why do you archive Carnival?’ I didn’t have an answer to that so I started researching it, so I’m going to do a little presentation of what archive is, why do we do these things, who actually uses it, does the Government use, and if they use it are they using it for what purposes.

I will start first of all by saying what archive is. That’s calypso Mr Alexander de Great [ slide ]. The word originally developed from the Greek word which refers to the home of dwelling of the icon, in which important official State documents were filed and interpreted under the authority of the icon. Is that useful Mr Calypsonion?

Then I find out also archives were well developed by the ancient Chinese, the ancient Greeks and the ancient Romans, who called them ‘Tabularia’.

[ Reading from slides ]

‘Historians, generalists, lawyers, demographers, film makers and others conduct research …’, so now we’re working out who’s using this archive. ‘… the research process that teach archive is unique and depends on the institution that houses the archive’, so Tola we’re coming into the building now.

‘The business …’ [ reading from slide ], ‘… archives serve the purpose of …’ blah, blah, blah, that doesn’t interest me, ‘… anyone may use a Government archive, and frequent users include reporters …’ da, da, da, rubbish.

‘Non-profit archives are typically setup …’, now we’re talking business that sounds like the UKCCA, ‘…with private funds from donors …’, I don’t know about the private funds, we don’t get private funds, ‘… to preserve the papers in history, or specific persons or place …’, in this case Carnival. ‘Often these institutions rely on …’ Fiona, without Fiona we can’t do these things, that’s why we say that Fiona has to bless the house. We have to rely on grant funding, without grant funding we can’t do these things.

‘Despite its very long …’ this is really serious, need to listen very carefully here, ‘…and varied history Carnival is a very under-researched area. Little academic work or systematic collection has taken place in the UK.’ What we’re doing here is helping into that, but it needs to be done with more people.

‘The Carnival Archive Project is HLF …’ I think some of this has already been said, so you know about it, if you don’t then there are a lot of papers around.

Right so now I’m going to welcome you here. I’ve told you about archives so I’m going to welcome you into the Carnival Centre. The Carnival Centre has been going on for 10 years, but in terms of operation it’s been going on for 3 years, and on those 3 years it’s just like any other family or business, it takes a while. I personally would actually like to say that I think this is our year 1.

Now I’m saying it’s year 1 because prior to that some of you we didn’t have as partners, we’ve managed to build all these partnerships. Also some of the projects we do, the Archive Project is just one of the projects we do here, and last year some of you saw us doing Crossroads, which was an Olympic Project, and the way we do it is the same we did with Archive.

When we did Crossroads we had five coordinators in each town, Norwich, Cambridge, Ipswich, Southend and Luton. In each town we dropped in a coordinator, really professional designers, people like Ali Pretty, Colin Spalding, Steve Hoyt, and in each town we identified somebody who’s good in Carnival, so they had to work with those specialists.

We did the same thing with music, each town had a Musical Director, then they ended up working with the samba groups, and we did the same thing again with the floats, where we identified people who were really keen on doing floats in their area. We brought a crazy man, he’s crazier than me, Milton Cunha from Rio, he’s actually the Artistic Director for Samba City, and he came here and ran some master classes and so on.

So with the Archive we’ve done similar but I don’t think we did all the five towns, but all I’m saying is that this is the way UKCCA should be working. We’re not just going to sit here and expect people to come in this building every day, our work now is going to take it to other places, so in some of those we’re planting seeds and then we take things to other places.

There are other things we’re going to be doing here, like the Brazilian Samba Incontro, where we bring people from different parts of the country as well as abroad.

There are also other projects that we want to do with young people, we’ve got our community projects, and then one other major thing that’s happening, we finished doing Crossroads, which was a big project, and then the next thing that we’ve just inherited, because of being our year 1, is Luton Carnival.

Luton Carnival has always been run by local authorities, and this year it’s been given for us to run, so we’re going to be running Luton Carnival this year, which is quite a challenge for us because, just like Fiona says, there’s not much money around. The Council gave us the Luton Carnival with less money, and then we had to take some of our artistic programme to make sure that it happens.

I just want to talk about what Carnival is, because what we’re doing here is we’re dealing with Carnival and archive. Now I’m not going to thought provoke you because it’s too early, but I struggled at the beginning when I was in the Arts Council, when they say, ‘can you archive Carnival?’, because thinking about Carnival it’s a moving thing, so when you start putting it into museums and so on, in my way of thinking, that’s killing it. However, the reality of it, if we’re going to talk about the future and future generations, is they need to know what it is we’re doing before, so through that I accepted it, but before that I really didn’t agree with it.

I’m also just going to say to do with this building and money, Fiona may not know this story, I made up this story, but Hilary was in the Arts Council with me so she can correct me if I’m lying, but you were saying there’s £20 million that’s been spent on Carnival. Also I think, in terms of archiving things, what happens in these institutions, again correct me if I’m wrong, but you get the New Youth Music, they do fund and they also collect things of the people they funded and then that has to be archived.

Now what I’m trying to say is the thing I don’t like about archive is that if it gets put there and nobody touches it, which means we’re going to reinvent the wheel every year. So one of the things that happened in the Arts Council when I was there is that we worked out that a lot of money for the Lottery money was going into a lot of the high art things, and then we started looking into culture, we did the research, and worked out that 0.3% of the Lottery money was going to culture and diversity, so somebody needed to address this.

As Officers we all sat down and then after all sorts of things, because Arts Council you have to prove you know what you’re talking about, we proved we knew what we were talking about and then £20 million was put aside, ring fenced, strictly for culture and diversity.

You were talking about people not knowing how to fill in applications, we sort of worked out that was one of the reasons why some of these culture diversity groups weren’t getting money, because of filling in this big, massive form, so at the Arts Council we got Elena Grant to go to anyone who wanted to apply from culture diversity, she advised them how to fill in the application form.

When the money was distributed we ended up with the Stephen Lawrence Centre, Bernie Grant, Talowa [? 10:01], Rich Mix, Carnival Village and UKCCA.

I remember at the time I was working at the Arts Council somebody phoned me and said, ‘how dare you put money in Luton, why didn’t you put it into Notting Hill?’ At the time Notting Hill had the Chief Executive sitting in the office with the media outside, locked in there because of the politics that goes with Notting Hill.

Anyway Notting Hill lost out and then Luton won, so I’m just saying that kind of example of the funding system working like that, that’s the stuff that ends up being archived, so that other funders when they’re going through this thing the reference isn’t there. I think we have to find a way of really making sure that when this archive is done there’s a way of actually being able to trigger the thing that says, ‘funding, culture diversity’, and then it says, ‘oh this was done this year by this group …’

Anyway Carnival, if we do archive, which I was talking about, then we will learn about Carnival, and then if you learn more about Carnival we can learn more about ourselves, and a lot about accepting and understanding other cultures. So that’s Carnival.

Archive I think we’ve already said what archive is, [ reading from slide ] ‘it’s an accumulation of historical records or the physical place they are located.’

I don’t think you can see that [ slide ], anyway this is just some of the archive stuff that I’ve got, because I think, without boasting, I’ve got the biggest collection of Carnival around the world. Wherever I go, whether it’s Cuba, Brazil, I document that, so I’ve got that, but I can’t claim an archivist because none of it is catalogued, so I’m going to have to go to HLF and archive my < laughs >.

On top in the corner [ slide ] is Carnival in India, most people think there’s no Carnival in India. The Goa Carnival has been going for a while, I think through the Portuguese and so on. As you can’t see that I’m going to have to explain to you that on the left is very old Goa Carnival, and then on the right is the modern day one.

At the bottom [ slide ] Notting Hill Carnival on the left, early, and then now; on the left is Notting Hill Carnival the police riot time, and then on the riot is now after the riots, the police can hug and kiss the Carnivalists.

At the bottom [ slide ] is Luton Carnival, and one of our major groups here is Rampage Carnival Club, that’s one of the photos I took quite early, and then on the right is Rampage recently. What’s interesting is some of those boys there are now grownup, the ones doing the Carnival now.

On the left on top [ slide ] is the place which was called the Youth House, do you know where the Youth House is?



Pax Nindi:

It’s right here. This used to be the Youth House.

At the bottom [ slide ] that is a dragon in Luton Carnival 1953, and then that’s Luton Carnival this very day.

What I’m going to do to go through some of the archive we’ve got is to give you a 5 minute film which shows you the history of Luton, because a lot of people say to me, ‘why Carnival in Luton, there’s no Carnival in Luton.’ You’re going to find out from this little film.

Pax Nindi:

I quickly have to cut this film because we’re running out of time.

[ Plays Film 13:02 - 17:24]

Anyway this was a welcome to you, also thanking you but welcoming you into our home, thank you very much.

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