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> > > News: Blue Touch Paper carnival team up with a Brazilian dancer troupe
photo of group in bright carnival costumes

Blue Touch Paper comes to Horsham

HORSHAM will be treated to a Rio style carnival at Sparks in the Park on Sunday 15 July when the Blue Touch Paper Carnival comes to town.

Sparks in the Park is an event for all the family and will take place in Horsham Park in Horsham on 15 July from 12 noon to 5pm.

The Blue Touch Paper Carnival is a ground breaking project which has brought together disabled and non disabled people to create and perform top quality carnival.

It has been working for over three years to develop how carnival can be made accessible at every level.

The Blue Touch Paper Carnival plays a key part in the West Sussex Ahead of the Game Festival, which celebrates the London 2012 Olympic Games.

This year the project has been working alongside Embaixadores de Alegria from Rio, which is the only disabled samba school in Brazil, to develop a whole Rio style samba school based on the theme of St George and the Dragon.

Members from Embaixadores came to the UK earlier in the year and worked with the New Carnival Company to develop carnival costumes and advise on how a Rio samba school functions.

Rio is the home of carnival and every samba school follows a structure including floats, flag bearers, bateria (samba band), drum queen and enredo (a song).

The theme is key to developing how the carnival or samba school looks and performs and the Blue Touch Paper Carnival chose St George and the Dragon as St George is the patron saint of England, but a little known fact is that he is also the patron saint of samba.

Different elements of the carnival have been developed across West Sussex and the Isle of Wight. A fantastic float has been designed and created by Shademakers in the shape of a dragon and 45 fantasia carnival costumes based on St George, the dragon and the maiden have also been created.

One of the most exciting and ground breaking elements of the project has been the development of an integrated bateria. Based in Horsham, the Blue Touch Paper integrated bateria (also known as a samba percussion band) is called Boom Tribe and it comprises of disabled and non disabled people plus experienced musicians and less experienced musicians.

Boom Tribe has been working with its ‘god parent group’, Dorking based bateria Bloco do Sul, for six months to learn the rhythms and the culture of samba. The bateria is now over 40 people strong and has already performed at the Brighton Festival and the Ryde Arts parade.

One of the biggest challenges for Boom Tribe was to learn and perform a traditional enredo – a song written and performed to the theme of the carnival.

The Blue Touch Paper enredo was written for the group in Rio and has been translated into English so the bateria and costume groups can perform and sing it. It is thought that this is the first time that an enredo has been written, arranged and performed in English. Traditionally, the enredo is sung by the whole samba school and is one of the criteria that the samba schools are judged on in Rio.

Although taking part in carnival is the produce of the Blue Touch Paper, improving access and choices for disabled people also sits at the heart of project.

Key within this process is the Horsham based Strawford Centre Horizons group, that has championed the inclusion of disabled people in carnival and has been involved in all the decision making to do with the project.

Mentored by Horsham District Council and the Strawford Centre, the group (or Hub Bubble as it has become known) is at the forefront of best practice for inclusion and accessibility work and is hoping to become a model which others will follow.

Cllr Sue Rogers, Horsham District Council’s Cabinet Member for a Safer & Healthier District, said:

"Carnival and outdoor events should be available and enjoyed by everybody.

"The Blue Touch Paper project has worked hard to make sure that disabled people, their voices and needs are listened to, acted upon and included in every aspect of what we do.

"We have taken our time and made sure that we really understand what enables disabled people to take part and made sure that they can make their own decisions about what they want and need so that they can take part in carnival."

The Blue Touch Paper Carnival will form the centre piece of the Horsham carnival at Sparks in the Park on Sunday 15 July.

Other local groups will also be playing their part with the Strawford Centre, Roffey Brownies, St John’s School, Shipley School, M8's, Horsham Guides, Harwood Guides, QEII School, Together in Mind, Ashington Dance Group and Horsham Brownies all joining the procession and wearing the costumes they have made.

These costumes are also based on St George and the Dragon theme and are linked to the London 2012 Olympic Games as well.

Event goers at Sparks in the Park will also have the chance to take part in the carnival procession by making a carnival streamer. Samba percussion workshops will also be running throughout the event with Bloco do Sul and Boom Tribe showing people how it’s done.

Sparks in the Park is held on Sunday 15 July in Horsham Park with the Blue Touch Paper Carnival starting at 4pm.

For more information, please visit the Blue Touch Paper website The Blue Touch Paper Carnival is also on Facebook and Twitter.