Blue Touch Paper Carnival

Blue Touch Paper Carnival Making Carnival Accessible

Disabled and non-disabled people coming together to plan, share and make top quality carnival

Carnival has always been about speaking your mind, expressing yourself and your life and about people coming together to make, create and celebrate. For many of the four million plus disabled people in the UK and their family and carers, even something as supposedly open as Carnival is for many hard to understand, engage with and enjoy because of the barriers it presents to participation and the lack of involvement of disabled people in its design.

Blue Touch Paper Carnival
Blue Touch Paper Carnival was created to change this through a programme of work developed from the expertise of leading regional and national specialists in Carnival, and in Disability and Best Inclusive Practice. Building on periods of scoping, research, development and evaluation since the project’s inception in March 2009, working practices were designed that upheld the social model of disability to create costumes, choreography, music and celebration to lead the project into 2012 with an eye on Rio de Janeiro 2016. Blue Touch Paper Carnival gained the London 2012 Games Inspire Mark.

The project was originally conceived by West Sussex Arts Partnership and linked to the Carnival Learning Centre on the Isle of Wight. It was championed by Creative Producer, Paul Ackerley, Nick Jenkins of Blue Umbrella Clubs from Horsham District Council, learning disabled activist and Carnival artist, Richard West, and Carnival experts Chris Slann and Frankie Goldspink from the IOW. Cusp inc‘s Director, Sarah Pickthall has sat at the heart of the development to date as a disabled coach and consultant with expertise in ‘speak up’ movement, involvement, access, training and creativity and continues to drive the project, its inclusivity, its pace, its mode of delivery and its development of resources.

Blue Touch Paper Carnival continues to plan and deliver accessible projects and events. Its project Mapfactor produces maps with outdoor arts people which are easy to understand, use easy pictures, photos, symbols and sounds with the expertise of local disabled people.

Planning decisions are made by the Blue Hub Bubble – an inclusive team who design, develop and deliver a bespoke set of inclusive activities and resources to ‘make carnival accessible’, in real time and on-line, reflecting the lifestyles, situations, viewpoints and creativity of disabled people and artists.

From the outset of this project, resources have been dedicated to making every planning meeting fully accessible by employing sign language interpreters, note takers, live scribe and drawing. In doing this, people have an equal say and involvement and have things delivered at a manageable pace when discussing and making decisions about the ongoing project and its development.

The group has a culture of adjustment and responsiveness: making accessible the way things are expressed and understood. The group is made up of disabled and non-disabled ‘buddy’ partnerships representing local day centres, arts centres, arts organisations, colleges, learning centres for Carnival, local authority representation and community: users and support workers, disabled artists and Carnivalists with learning disability, dyslexia, chronic fatigue, physical impairment and deafness.

The team extols a ‘nothing about us without us’ ethic and is of the very best inclusive practice. The meetings are carefully designed to include training elements and are comprehensively documented and all the material is published. The experience of meeting in this way sets a cultural framework and engine for the project, allowing the group to determine the right balance of activities that will enable us to strengthen the foundations we have laid, whilst working at the right pace and scale to remain inclusive and demonstrate best practice.

Blue Touch Paper website
Nominated for a Jodi Award for its accessibility for people with learning disabilities, uses film and images to make a ‘how to’ set of guides on the site, created in face to face training intensives and one off workshops over the year. It has blogs from participants and a our principal resource for sharing our learning globally.

Find Blue Touch Paper Carnival on facebook as well at

Blue Touch Paper Carnival was part of the Ahead of the Game Cultural Programme in West Sussex, led by West Sussex Arts Partnership, with funding from Arts Council England.

View Blue Touch Paper Carnival’s website at

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Creatives Across Sussex

The Barn
Fordwater Lane
West Sussex
PO19 6PT

Telephone: 0843 289 5150

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BTP Carnival hits the ground running in 2012 / <span itemprop="startDate" content="2012-01-12T00:00:00Z">Thu 12 Jan 2012</span>BTP Carnival hits the ground running in 2012 / Thu 12 Jan 2012

You may have heard that the Blue Touch Paper Carnival project has secured funding from Arts Council England to continue with its exciting work during ...

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Blue Touch Paper Carnival take part in London 2012 Festival / <span itemprop="startDate" content="2012-07-21T00:00:00Z">Sat 21 Jul 2012</span>Blue Touch Paper Carnival take part in London 2012 Festival / Sat 21 Jul 2012

As well as taking part in West Sussex's Ahead of the Game Festival, Blue Touch Paper are getting ready to contribute to the London 2012 Festival! S...

Blue Touch Paper Carnival @ Horsham Sparks / <span itemprop="startDate" content="2012-07-15T00:00:00Z">Sun 15 Jul 2012</span>Blue Touch Paper Carnival @ Horsham Sparks / Sun 15 Jul 2012

Having already taken both the Brighton Children's Parade & Ryde Arts Parade by storm Blue Touch Paper Carnival will be bringing their fantastic projec...

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Artist / Illustrator Required / <span itemprop="startDate" content="2012-01-31T00:00:00Z">Tue 31 Jan 2012</span>Artist / Illustrator Required / Tue 31 Jan 2012

The Blue Touch Paper Carnival Project requires an artist/illustrator to create, develop and provide easy picture illustrations a...

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BTP Shout Out Horn MixBTP Shout Out Horn Mix

This is the procession music used by the Blue Touch Paper Carnival 'Carnival Island' parade at the Natwest Island Games 2011 Opening Ceremony on Satur...

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