Celebration on hold as organisers launch review of Stevenage showpiece

Gabz has performed at Celebrate!!! in previous years.

Gabz has performed at Celebrate!!! in previous years. - Credit: Archant

A popular community event which has taken place every year since 2002 and was due to be held later this month has been cancelled – pending a ‘major review’.

Celebrate!!! is usually held by Stevenage World Forum every October in a bid to bring together the diversity of international culture in the town, and coincides with Black History Month.

The event brings a variety bill of music, dance and fashion talent to the stage at the Gordon Craig Theatre in Lytton Way, with previous acts including Britain’s Got Talent finalist Gabz – a teenage singer-songwriter from Stevenage.

More than 700 performers have participated in Celebrate!!! over the years, but nobody will have a chance to take a turn in the spotlight in 2015 due to the cancellation.

The annual showcase has also seen the Campbell Younge Award presented each year. The accolade was created in honour of Reba Younge and Albert Campbell, two people who dedicated their lives to helping minority ethnic communities in Stevenage and the wider community.

Forum chairman Kate Belinis said: “We are having a major review to see if it’s the best way to celebrate Black History Month.

“Each year it’s a fantastic buzz and we all enjoy it so much, but we are wondering whether we have come away too much from what we originally set out to do.

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“It’s become a real talent contest now, and we are moving further away from what it is supposed to be about, and that is celebrating black history.”

The main aims of Celebrate!!! are to forge strong bonds between cultures, breaking down the barriers of discrimination, as well as sharing skills and knowledge within the community, and raising awareness of ethnicity and diversity through arts and leisure activities.

Kate said Celebrate!!! will definitely return next year, but perhaps in a different format.