One of the largest community events in Oxford has been cancelled, and the organisers are taking a break to ‘consider the future’.
Cowley Road Works, the charity behind the city’s Cowley Road Carnival, says it’s ‘beginning a period of change’ and has decided to take a break from delivering a Carnival in 2022.
Cowley Road is one of Oxford’s most notable annual events, and it usually takes place at the beginning of July, bringing together tens of thousands of residents and visitors to the streets of east Oxford.
It went virtual in 2020 due to lockdown, and in 2021 people were encouraged to get involved with hosting projects and activities at home alongside another virtual event.
Cowley Road Carnival started as a regeneration project for East Oxford. And for over two decades, Cowley Road Works has produced and delivered a thriving programme of community projects and activities, engaging with the many and varied community groups and artists across Oxford.
After 20 years, the organisation now wants to ‘take time to evaluate past successes and consider the future.’
In a statement on the Cowley Road Works website, Cathy King, acting Chair of the Board of Trustees for Cowley Road Works, said: “Carnival started as a regeneration project for East Oxford and has succeeded amazingly in bringing our diverse communities together through celebration of this diversity for 20 years.
“We feel that the time is right to take time this year to reflect on past successes and our vision for Carnival. We will be taking the next few months to consider the future.”
The charity said in a statement: “Following the last two years and the recent changing leadership within the organisation, we are at a point of transition.
“CRW needs to deliver within a model that is more sustainable and secure for our future, and we are looking at our funding and fundraising strategy over the next five years and taking the opportunity to rethink the leadership of the organisation.
“We also wish to review why we exist, and who we exist for, to ensure we have a sharp focus on working with targeted groups within the context of shifting demographics in Oxford City.”
It added: “It cannot be denied that we are also working with a more challenging funding environment. This might mean doing things differently in future, but we will undergo this review with the needs of our community at the centre.
“In particular, rather than deliver a Carnival that people just attend, success for the charity would be to empower and upskill the communities we work in to organise and lead their own experiences.
“We believe that community-driven in-person events and celebrations will be crucial for community recovery and cohesion post the COVID-19 pandemic and isolation it has caused.
“This necessarily takes time and means not delivering Carnival in 2022. It would be a disservice to our past successes not to take the time to do this properly.”