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A close-up of the Rose Bowl, City Campus

Leeds Carnival Conference - Power, Performance and Play

Leeds West Indian Carnival

About the Leeds Carnival Conference

19 – 21 May 2017
Leeds Beckett University

The Centre for Culture and the Arts at Leeds Beckett University, in partnership with Leeds West Indian Carnival, host this international conference on Caribbean Carnival Cultures.

The Conference is a celebration of Leeds West Indian Carnival’s 50th anniversary and the development of a Carnival Cultures research strand at the Centre for Culture and the Arts. It is extremely timely; despite the 50 years that British Caribbean communities have brought carnival, their major artistic creation, with its highly significant cultural history, into the public life of the UK, however there is little scholarship on this topic in cultural studies, in history, or in literary/drama studies.

The conference is shaping up to be an excellent event with a global scope involving academics, costume designers, musicians, filmmakers and founding members of the Caribbean Carnival in Leeds, UK. Plans also include a Civic Reception and welcome by the Lord Mayor of Leeds and an evening of reggae and soca at the Leeds West Indian Centre.

Contributions will take the form of papers, workshops and exhibitions. The conference will be dedicated to focusing on the following themes:

  • The relationship between carnival and diasporic identities.
  • The cultural history of Caribbean carnival in the UK.
  • Carnival and the politics of emancipation and practices of resistance.
  • Transcultural relationships between UK and global Caribbean carnivals.
  • Carnival and the body.
  • Carnival as a site for conviviality, pleasure and social cohesion.
  • The commercialisation of carnival.

We look forward to seeing you there.

  • Dr Emily Zobel Marshall (Conference Coordinator)
  • Professor Max Farrar (Conference Coordinator)
  • Danielle Hall (Conference Administrator)

Conference Partners

Plus Icon Leeds West Indian Carnival

Founded in 2013 the Centre for Culture & the Arts at Leeds Beckett University brings together researchers and practitioner from across our University as well as partners working within culture and the arts. More information.

Leeds West Indian Carnival is Europe’s longest running authentic Caribbean carnival parade. What started in the 1960’s as one man’s remedy for West Indian homesickness is now the perfect blend of jaw-dropping costumes, infectious tropical rhythms, mouth watering food and entertainment for everyone. More information

Leeds Carnival logo

Plus Icon Leeds City Council

Leeds City Council are partnering with Leeds Beckett University to host the Carnival Conference Closing Night in the form of a grand Civic Reception at Leeds Civic Hall. This event will be opened by the Lord Mayor in the banqueting suite. Delegates and special guests will enjoy an evening of Caribbean food, poetry, music and entertainment.

Leeds City Council has supported Leeds West Indian Carnival since its beginning fifty years ago. The city is entering the competition to be the UK’s next European Capital of Culture in 2023 and Leeds West Indian Carnival will be a key part of the city’s strong cultural offer in 2023 and increasingly so in the years leading up to it. Support for the Lord Mayor’s Civic Reception is being provided by Leeds City Council’s 2023 European Capital of Culture Bid team. More information

Leeds City Council logo

Plus Icon The Geraldine Connor Foundation

The Geraldine Connor Foundation was established in 2012 to continue the work and vision of renowned educationalist, theatre director and ethnomusicologist Dr Geraldine Connor.

Geraldine’s magnus opus was Carnival Messiah, a reimagining of Handel’ Messiah which fused music, dance and carnival and united international artists and communities in Leeds on a professional stage. This year the Geraldine Connor Foundation will celebrate 10 years since the last performance of Carnival Messiah at Harewood House.

Since its founding the Geraldine Connor Foundation has dedicated itself to advancing the development of young people and continuing the work and vision of Geraldine. Through our creative projects in the Arts we engage and empower young people from diverse communities throughout Leeds and the northern region. More information

Geraldine Connor Foundation Logo

Plus Icon Moving Worlds

Moving Worlds is a Journal of Transcultural Writings, edited by Emeritus Professor Shirley Chew from Leeds University. Its central concern – the transcultural – is the movement of cultures across national boundaries, and the productive transformations resulting from these crisscrossings.

Moving Worlds is delighted to support Power, Performance, and Play. We will offer delegates a special discounted conference rate for subscriptions and single issue sales. Bring the leaflet from your delegate pack and get copies for £12 waged/£5 student/unsalaried, and if you take out a subscription, you will get a single issue half-price. More information

Moving Worlds Logo

Keynote Speakers

The keynote speakers for the conference will be:

  • Arthur France MBE, Founder of Leeds West Indian Carnival
  • Tony Hall, internationally renowned Trinidadian carnival playwright and director of Jouvay Institute and Lord Street Theatre Company.
  • Professor Milla Riggio, world-leading researcher of Trinidad carnival from Trinity College, Connecticut.
  • Michael la Rose, designer and leader of London’s People’s War Carnival Band and chair of the George Padmore Institute.


Bookings for the conference have now closed. If you have any questions relating to bookings please contact Danielle Hall (D.Hall@leedsbeckett.ac.uk)

Location and Timings

Please note the timings below are an approximate schedule, actual timings will be confirmed nearer the time of the conference:

  • Event Screening: 18 May 2017
    Only a limited number of seats are available. Book here
  • Conference Day 1: 19 May 2017
    Sagar Wright Lecture Theatre, Rose Bowl, 8:30 - 18:00 - venue details
  • Conference Day 2: 20 May 2017
    Sagar Wright Lecture Theatre, Rose Bowl, 8:30 - 18:00 - venue details
  • Conference Day 3: 21 May 2017
    On Sunday morning conference participants will be offered the opportunity to take a 'Black History Walk' through the city of Leeds led by Joe Williams from Heritage Corner. The walk will start at 11:00 and will last for 2 hours (limited places). Joe will uncover the often hidden historical narratives of African heritage and the people of African decent who have shaped the city and its rich history. You can find out more about Heritage Corner and Joe's walks here: heritagecornerleeds.wixsite.com/heritage-corner.

Photographs of the Leeds West Indian Carnival

1970 Leeds Carnival Queens at Mecca Ballroom © Photographed by PepperPhoto
1987 Arthur France playing mas as Dianne Abbott, the first black female Member of Parliament © Photographed by Max Farrar
1999 Mahalia France, a Carnival Queen, in the marquee at the West Indian Centre © Photographed by Max Farrar
2003 Hughbon Condor, Leeds’ most successful costume designer, and his Queen, Helena Hamlet © Photographed by Max Farrar
2016 Blue Devil mas, designed and performed by RJC Dance and Rhian Kempadoo Millar © Photographed by Max Farrar
2016 Leonard Carroll, Carnival King, & Charlene Clarke, Carnival Queen, at West Yorkshire Playhouse © Photographed by Max Farrar
2013 Members of the Harrison Bundey Troupe in the ‘Unstitch the Rich’ mas. Photographed by Max Farrar
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