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Last Updated: Saturday, 25 August 2007, 01:54 GMT 02:54 UK
Carnival's 100m boost to the UK
Martin Edwards
BBC News, London

Michael Williams
Michael Williams says the carnival has much more business potential

The economy of London could be given a cash injection in excess of 100m this Bank Holiday weekend thanks to the Notting Hill Carnival, it is claimed.

The carnival's marketing director Michael Williams says a growth in visitors following the new Panorama event in central London's Hyde Park and a "likely increase" in the average spend per visitor are the two main factors.

Another is the recent string of new sponsors attracted by the organisers, including D&G soft drinks and the Nice Car Company.

Three years ago a report from the London Development Agency estimated the event was worth more than 90m and supported the equivalent of 3,000 full-time jobs.

But Mr Williams insists there is more to come.

"We know the carnival has much more business potential," he said.

Carnival dancers
Corporatism is becoming a bigger feature of the carnival
"Compared to similar events which attract far less than our 1.5m visitors, there is still greater scope for big brands to sponsor the carnival."

One such example is the plan to raise the level of hospitality in the VIP area with the help of celebrity chef Patrick Williams, formerly of the Ivy and Mirabelle and now at The Terrace in Lincoln's Inn Fields.

The move towards greater corporate involvement is a sea change from three years ago when the Arts Council withdrew funding.

It said the Notting Hill Carnival Trust, which had formerly organised the festival, "failed to meet the conditions of funding".

The group now behind the event, London Notting Hill Carnival Ltd (LNHCL), was formed in February 2003 to tackle infighting between board members.

The change to limited company status also meant that trading at a loss - as it had done for many years - was no longer an option.

Items consumed at the carnival
30,000 corn on the cobs
15,000 deep-fried plantains
1 tonne of rice and peas
1 tonne of Jamaican patties
12,000 mangoes
16,000 coconuts
5 million hot and cold drinks
10,000 litres of Jamaican stout
25,000 bottles of rum
70,000 litres of carrot juice
"When I was told how the carnival worked I just found it astounding that an event with 1.5m visitors goes cap in hand to local authorities on an annual basis," said Mr Williams.

He is unapologetic about the drive towards greater commercialisation of the carnival but is adamant the festival's artistic integrity must also be safeguarded.

The issue of making more use of hospitality tents, first introduced to the carnival in 2003, has little real impact on the people out on the streets, he says.

"If you have a few hundred people in a corporate tent having a few drinks, and looking critically at whether they want to support the carnival, it's not going to have an impact on the 1.5m people on the streets enjoying themselves.

"In fact, they wouldn't even know it's taking place.

"People are suspicious of the commercialisation of the carnival and what we have to do is maintain the artistic integrity of the event while ensuring it is financially viable."

Carnival arts centre 'to close'
24 Mar 05 |  London
Carnival goes corporate
28 Jul 03 |  London


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