Access All Areas October 2019 - Page 34

OCTOBER | COVER FEATURE THE MAN BEHIND THE MAGIC Access catches up Notting Hill Carnival's executive director Matthew Phillip to talk tradition, branding and young talent HOW IS THE TEAM BEHIND AT NOTTING HILL SET UP? There's a group of companies that form the festival, but no one is full time, we all have other jobs, but there's seven people. Come August, it becomes a community-led setup, based in a community focused building that sees all walks of life coming through it. This is fitting and in tune with what carnival was set up for in the first place. We have various partners in the Council, and our team works with Police, holding monthly meetings that never stop, then after the event we hold a de-briefing, then it's back to the planning again, which involves everything from deciding on anything from the location of the toilets to the placement of stalls, and working with vehicle entry, the Police, Ambulance, carnivalists, bands and sound systems. It's a huge event, but it's also more than 150 little events linking together. so as organisers we don't want to control too much. We want to encourage and promote artistry, new costumes, stories, and you can't put too many controls on that. We support the true artists and our role is to organise and manage it and make it easy for them to get involved. WHAT SORTS OF CHANGES HAVE YOU MADE TO MAKE THE EVENT MORE ACCESSIBLE? TRAVEL AND LOGISTICS-WISE. A lot of the logistical elements, stations and bus stops, are already there, but we work to increase awareness. We produced an all new booklet this year that gives plans of the site, a schedule and details of any closures. We also have a dedicated app produced by Second Screen. We make a lot of use of social media now, and give info to people on a variety of issues – from where the disabled toilets are to where the vegan stalls are. The app is a great way to do that as well and it makes the whole event a lot more accessible. HOW DO YOU ATTRACT BIG BRAND INVOLVEMENT AND WHAT SORTS OF GUIDELINES DO YOU HAVE TO KEEP IT BEING TOO COMMERCIAL? THE EVENT HAS MODERNISED SIGNIFICANTLY OVER THE LAST FEW YEARS, WITH APPS, ETC. WHAT HAVE BEEN THE MAJOR UPDATES TO THE EVENT FROM A VISITOR PERSPECTIVE AND WHAT PROMPTED THEM? Having increased our technological innovations, and digital presence on social media means we can share the story of our community with a wider audience. It's often misunderstood, so this is a great chance to convey how unique this event is. It's not just a party, there's a great magnitude behind this event and the stories behind it. It had been difficult before, but social media has been a great help in giving us a direct way that we can talk to the public. We've also changed how the media looks at us, and we're very pleased the event's role is finally recognised in bringing community cohesion. Notting Hill has been influenced by the Caribbean carnivals from Trinidad since its inception, but it’s now a very different event that has grown organically through the input of many people over the years. This sense of freedom is also what has shaped it, 34 PICTURED: MATTHEW PHILLIP