CARIFESTA XIII opens in Barbados; new direction for CARIFESTA being sought

DPI, GUYANA, Sunday, August 20, 2017

CARIFESTA XIII officially opened today with a parade from Queen’s Park to Kensington Oval ground in President Kennedy Drive, Bridgetown Barbados.

The Guyanese delegation headed by Minister of Education, Nicolette Henry, Permanent Secretary, Melissa Tucker, Director of culture, Tamika Boatswain and Director of National Event from MOTP, Colonel Godfrey Bess took to the streets in a kaleidoscope of colour along with the other participants and joyfully marched down the streets.

The Guyana team was arguably the most colourful and energetic. Though the walk was a long haul the jolliness and excitement left the contingents energized.

Prime Minister, Barbados Freundel Stuart, CARICOM Secretary General, Irwin LaRocque, Minister of Culture Youth and Sport, Barbados, Stephen Lashley and other government officials and members of the Diplomatic Corps welcomed the various contingents into the Kensington Oval ground.

LaRocque told the large gathering that CARIFESTA is a force that binds the Caribbean countries and defines them uniquely. He highlighted that CARIFESTA returned to Barbados for the second time since CARIFESTA Four in 1981.

“This year we celebrate 44 years as a Caribbean community and CARIFESTA happened from the beginning…CARIFESTA is a highly valued Caribbean event that is near and dear to our hearts since its inception in 1972 in Guyana…it has given us a platform where we can share and showcase our talents and assert our cultures and celebrate ourselves,” LaRocque explained.

The Secretary General highlighted that there is much store for the cultural sector including some US2.6M for establishing the Cultural Creative Industries Innovative Fund which will assist the public and private sectors in member states with seed funding for medium, small and micro enterprises in the sector.  He added that this boost from the Caribbean Development Bank is just one of the great things for the culture sector.

Meanwhile, Minister of Culture Youth and Sport, Barbados, Stephen Lashley used the opportunity to call on the contingents work even harder for regional integration. He urged the gathering to rededicate themselves to dreams of their forefathers to the dreams of united Caribbean politically, economically and socially.

Lashley noted that though CARIFESTA has had its challenges over the years but the vision never died. “The tenacity of spirits exhibited by leaders in the cultural sphere, successive regional governance and the CARICOM secretariat together permitted CARIFESTA to survive a hiatus of 11 years and return stronger than ever in 1992.”

He stated a new strategic direction for CARIFESTA is being sought which is intended to position the festival as world renowned festival of Caribbean cultural and artistic excellence that brings economic benefits, unites the region and excites all people. “This new strategy demands that we leverage the comparative advantage afforded us by our natural, cultural and human assets for economic development. Indeed, when we reflect on this it is these assets that have placed us on the world stage.”

In August 2015, Barbados took the baton from Haiti to host CARIFESTA 2017. Lashley thanked the delegation for their patience during the disruption for tropical storm Harvey. He also urged the gathering to enjoy the CARIFESTA celebrations.

The Caribbean Festival of Creative Arts (CARIFESTA) was conceived out of an appeal from a regional gathering of artists who were at the time participating in a Writers and Artists Convention in Georgetown, Guyana in 1970 and which coincided with Guyana’s move to Republican Status.

The festival will also highlight the diversity of the CARICOM countries while showcasing their rich mutual cultural similarities and put on display the creativity of the Region.

By: Ranetta La Fleur