THIS summer’s Cowley Road carnival has been given a huge financial boost after Mini confirmed it would again be sponsoring the event.

The Oxford car plant yesterday confirmed it would be the headline business sponsor for the seventh year running at Cowley Road Carnival, meaning about two thirds of the £110,000 cost had now been met.

The value of the deal with Mini has been kept confidential. Oxford City Council has already put forward £30,000 for the event, as part of a three-year deal, and Oxford University’s new community fund gave the charity £6,000 towards its costs.

Other money has been collected by fundraisers throughout the year.

The East Oxford carnival, which started in 2001 and attracts a crowd of 35,000, returned to Cowley Road last year after a two-year absence from the route, and this year takes place on Sunday, July 6.

Carnival executive director Danielle Battigelli yesterday confirmed the charity was more than halfway towards meeting its costs.

She said: “We have defini-tely got half of what we need, if not two thirds.

“We would, as always, still encourage businesses to come forward to sponsor us and traders to support us.”

“Mini are the top business sponsor. Their sponsorship is a very important part to make sure the carnival goes ahead.”

This summer’s event is to be extended – heading up to The Plain from Magdalen Road, rather than to Jeune Street as it did last year.

The theme of the carnival this year will be Oxford Faces, and Mini Plant Oxford will be depicted through a street dance performance by carnival partner Pegasus Theatre with dance group Body Politic.

It will be performed on the dance stage at Manzil Gardens during the event.

They will also take part in the procession with banners and sculptures inspired by the car manufacturer’s face – a “factory floor” featuring robotic equipment and the people who work together to create the Mini.

Last year, to celebrate 100 years of car-making by Mini in Oxford, a street theatre performance – Wheels in Motion – with the theme being the plant’s history, was commissioned for the carnival.

Mini Plant Oxford managing director Frank Bachmann said: “We are proud to play a supporting role in an event which has really become part of the fabric of the local community.

“We’re also very excited to see the dance piece created by the young people and inspired by the plant.”

Brian Trotman, chairman of Cowley Road Works, the charity that organises the carnival, said: “We are delighted that Mini Plant Oxford continues to support Cowley Road Carnival, demonstrating their ongoing commitment to the com-munity where they have such a significant place and historic presence.”

Yasmin Sidhwa, head of creative learning at Pegasus, added: “This is a fantastic opportunity for the young street dancers from Pegasus to create an exciting new piece working with professional dancers from Body Politic.

“Inspired by an amazing international organisation that has been a focus of the city for more than 100 years, the performance brings this history right up to date.”