“Carnival turns the world upside down.  Hierarchies are reversed and suspended.  Clothes are worn back to front.  Comic crowning and uncrownings take place.  Fools become kings, lords of misrule preside, boy bishops are elected, and so on.  Bawdy is the outspoken language of the lower body, and sacred parody dethrones the hieratic.  Carnival folk-laughter is egalitarian, and derision, not death, is the great leveller” (Knowles, 1998)


NORCA & Sistema in Norwich has a strong track record in supporting the development of carnival in Norfolk. 


Some of our key activities, projects and events are listed below.  We have supported both artist development, and increased participation and engagement.  We continually seek to push the boundaries of carnival and develop new models for creative participation in public spaces and exploring new areas of artistic practice within carnival, such as street theatre, digital engagement and aspects of the use and production of music, such as battery powered PA's.

Key achievements to date have been:

  1. Jump II, a carnival mini-conference held in 2002.

  2. Celestial Carnival, a commission to create a carnival for Loddon in 2003, in partnership with Theatre of Adventure.

  3. Samba Extravaganza, young people studying and performing with Rio bloco, Monobloco.

  4. Touring Rio group, Monobloco, around 14 dates in the UK and Ireland, with a range of community workshops and involvement.

  5. Back to the Streets, a major Arts Council England funded carnival project that put a 500-strong block at the front on the Lord Mayor’s Street Procession in 2009, and brought international carnival artists to Norwich to work with local carnivalists and communities.

  6. Partnership work with the UKCCA on the Carnival Archive Project and Carnival Crossroads.

  7. The Carnival Company Project, another major Arts Council England funded project to develop a new carnival group and support a range of carnival activity, 2012 to 14.

  8. Musical Direction and support for the Norwich Circus 250 Project in 2018.

After a few years hiatus whilst as an organisation we focused on the development of Sistema in Norwich, we are returning to our commitment to carnival.  Key areas of focus will be:

  1. Developing opportunities to get involved in carnival

  2. Training and professional skills development

  3. Samba in schools

  4. Continuing to develop support and partnership work with local groups such as Rabo de FogueteSpirit of Carnival and Tin House.

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