Emily Wood Scoops National Award for Innovation

Emily Wood our Artistic Director has scooped a national award from Innovate UK, the UK’s Innovation Agency. The prestigious award will support her to grow her innovative business idea which will enable Cabasa to become more climate kind in our work in carnival arts and textiles.

Building on the success of Innovate UK’s targeted programmes, like Women in Innovation and Young Innovators, this latest funding is designed to find and support the fresh innovation talent the UK needs.

Emily is among the 233 high-potential innovators who has been awarded a £50,000 grant. Critically, she will also receive 12 months of tailored business support to help her grow, stimulating the UK’s economy.

“ I am a Carnival artist working in visual arts, textiles, costume, sculpture and processional art. My company, Cabasa CIC, delivers large scale carnival and outdoor art works across the UK. We work with expert professional artists, although many of our projects also engage and celebrate the voices of marginalised groups. We work for a range of clients including local authorities, town teams, Business Improvement Districts, commercial retail centres and other arts organisations. 

Like many organisational leaders, I have been increasingly concerned about the environmental impact of our work. This includes topics such as synthetic dyes (used extensively in producing costume and banners) and outdoor sculptures/installations. I have begun to explore a range of natural dye alternatives, and to consider natural and locally grown textile alternatives for costumes.With support from Innovate UK I can now undertake a period of intensive R&D, leading to the development of two new public art works which can be deployed in a wide range of settings, bringing joy, energy and celebration to our shared spaces. These works will have a high level of sustainability built into their entire production cycle and will also involve audiences in questions around our relationships with public art, design, and textiles”

In line with the UK’s growing appetite for innovation, this new award programme was amongst the most highly engaged funding competitions Innovate UK has ever delivered – with over 2,100 entrepreneurs applying for funding and business mentorship. There is an urgent need to transform the UK’s skills and talent pipeline, through inspiring and connecting people to new opportunities and pathways into innovation. Innovate UK estimates that, to achieve the UK’s full economic potential, 400,000 more innovators need to be supported, from entrepreneurs to engineers.

Coinciding with the Awards announcement, Innovate UK has joined forces with over 150 partner organisations to launch its free and accessible No Limits digital platform, which makes it easy for aspiring innovators to discover new career paths, sharpen their skills and access opportunities to develop life-changing innovations and future-proof the UK economy.

Read more about our ongoing work using natural dyes and processes at https://cabasacarnivalarts.com/the-living-dress/


If you’re an aspiring innovator, or a business looking to connect with new talent, check out nolimits.ukri.org to find support and inspiration.

Flags For Hope Documentary

Flags for Hope the movie!

We documented the whole journey from interviewing the residents of the care homes to the batiking and dyeing process, as well as the install. We hear from artists and volunteers about this beautiful project taking place in a challenging time.


Dan Jones
Lauren Moore
Lizzie Rigby
Melanie Roberts
Rowan Taylor

Project Manager: Kate Rothery

Artistic Director: Emily Wood

In Partnership with Sonder Radio:

Director (Sonder Radio): Rachel Roger
Freelance Story Tellers: Lucy Fiori and Eduarda Klaser

Thank you to the care home Activity Coordinators:

Lindsey at Daisy Nook House (Ashton-Under-Lyne)
Caitlin at Stamford Court (Stalybridge)
Louise at Sandon House (Mossley)

Thank you to the residents who shared their stories and members of the public who submitted their stories of hope digitally.

Thank you to all 27 volunteers that gave their time to batik and dye the silk.

Film by John Grey.

The project ran in partnership with Sonder Radio and was supported by a number of organisations including: Arts Council England, School For Social Entrepreneurs, Social Enterprise Support Fund, National Lottery Community Fund, Action Together, GMCVO, Postcode Community Trust, Equilibrium Foundation, Global Grooves and The Vale Mossley.

Hope On Tour

We’re almost at the last stop on our Flags For Hope journey! The flags have all been sewn and tested and they’re getting ready to go on tour!

They’ll be on tour for 3 weeks this summer to the care homes we worked with over the past few months. They will be on public display in various formats around the grounds of each Care Home.



You can now listen to the Flags For Hope Podcast on our dedicated project page. We worked in partnership with Sonder Radio to deliver creative writing and story-telling workshops. If you’re going to come and see them in person, we’d recommend listening to all the stories from each home as you see the exhibition.


Tour Dates

Friday 30th July – Friday 6th August: Daisy Nook House (Ashton-Under-Lyne)
Fri 6th – Friday 13th August – Stamford Court (Stalybridge)
Friday 13th – Friday 20th August – Sandon House (Mossley)

Full address details are on the dedicated Flags For Hope page.


People Power

These flags wouldn’t have been possible without the hard work and dedication of our community of volunteers. 27 people over the course of 2 weeks in June/July 2021 came into our studio at The Vale in Mossley to wax and paint our 6 flags to bring the stories alive.

> 36 meters of hand woven Indian silk
> 5 artists
> 104 hours to wax and paint
> 27 volunteers from Tameside, Oldham and Manchester


Full info can be found at: https://cabasacarnivalarts.com/projects/flags-for-hope

Metamorphosis Aviva Crowdfunder


We’re taking part in the Aviva Community Fund again this year, but things have changed a little. It’s now a Crowdfunding platform and we have set our target at £1000 to raise project funds for our Metamorphosis project.


Metamorphosis explores the Carnival tradition of whole body painting as an empowering, transformative and life changing experience. This groundbreaking project will provide a once in a lifetime opportunity for women and artists to tell their stories through the unique art form, creating beautiful, thought provoking imagery.

Cabasa will change the lives of peri and post natal women experiencing feelings of anxiety and isolation through this artist led outreach and engagement project. An exciting team of emerging and established artists will be trained by high profile industry leaders, learning the incredible power of art as a catalyst for positive change.

We have some great rewards including:

£20 for a Metamorphosis 2021 Calendar
£50 for a workshop in body painting (10 places available)
£500 for The works! A body paint experience day for yourself where you’ll be painted by one of our artists and photographed by a professional photographer.

Or you can simply donate towards the project.


Shiny New Website

We have a shiny new website, hurrah! We’ll be updating it with more and more about how you can get involved with Cabasa in 2020.