Cowley Road Carnival bills itself as Oxford’s Big Day Out: a celebration of community and diversity in the heart of East Oxford. Each July, stages spring-up along the street and the surrounding areas, hosting pop-up performances of music, dance and spoken word; and traders set up stalls selling a wide range of delicious street food. The much-anticipated main event is the procession, bringing together school children and community groups in a colourful parade of carnival floats and samba music.
Cowley Road Works (CRW), the charity which plans and manages the carnival, also runs a programme of arts and outreach events promoting inclusivity and community spirit all year round. It was recently announced that CRW have been awarded an £86K Arts Council grant to deliver an extensive programme of arts training and participation opportunities for young people with disabilities in Oxford. Working in a new partnership with Ark T Centre, who launched the successful disability arts ROAR festival two years ago, the projects will also involve collaborations with a number of partners including Pegasus Theatre, Sol Samba and mental health charity, Oxfordshire MIND.
Sophie Slade, an arts & heritage consultant with over 17 years of experience in dealing with people, places and collections in the heritage sector, has been a Cowley Road Works trustee for nearly five years. An Oxford resident, Sophie sees being a trustee as a chance to stay connected to Oxford, share skills and experience, and continue to develop as an arts and heritage professional.
“Being a trustee for Cowley Road Works has been immensely enjoyable and it has been a great privilege to be able to contribute to the growth and development of the charity and event,” Sophie says. She initially worked as a curator and manager in museums and historic houses including the Victoria & Albert Museum, the Charles Dickens Museum, and the Emery Walker Trust. Following her work overseeing the refurbishment of the University Church of St Mary the Virgin in Oxford, she focused on consultancy work in museum and heritage sites. Her wealth of experience in project management, fundraising and strategic development is invaluable to Cowley Road Works.
“I have contributed to a range of tasks at the Carnival from governance to hands-on work,” says Sophie. “But my primary focus has been staffing and development, particularly around sponsorship. Since I joined CRW at the beginning of 2014, the output of CRW had developed considerably. Numbers of attendees have increased by about 15,000 and the charity has deepened the level of engagement with communities through year round outreach programmes.”
A board of enthusiastic trustees with time, skills and experience to give is what helps small charities like Cowley Road Works to thrive. The charity is currently looking to enhance the Board by appointing several new Trustees to take them forward into its next exciting chapter. The current Chair of Trustees, Brian Trotman, will be stepping down after this year’s carnival, so Cowley Road Works are on the look-out for a new Chairperson and a Treasurer, but are also interested in hearing from professionals with a range of skills that will drive the organisation’s expansion and development: people with a background in law, wealth management or fundraising; hands-on experience in outdoor arts, education or marketing; and local residents and traders in a personal investment in the community.
If you’re interested in finding out more about becoming a Cowley Road Works trustee, contact Executive Director Micaela Tuckwell by emailing email@example.com.