February 14, 2018

Director of Culture Tamika Boatswain, today announced the inclusion of the Neil Chan Prize for Creativity and Pageantry as part of the King of the Band Competition at this year’s Mash Nite event.

Mrs. Sheila Chan, widow of Neil Chan A.A., former costume designer and Mashramani Mash Day and Mash Nite convenor, has donated a special prize in his honor. This trophy will be donated yearly as part of the King of the Band competition.

Neil Chan, who died on January 5, 2018, , won King of the Band at the Mashramani Mash Nite Competitions in the 80s and 90s, on many occasions, with portrayals of different themes over the years . Chan’s costumes dominated the Mashramani scene with presentations that can be described as a masterful blend of costume design and well choreographed pageantry.  It was the Solo Band and Neil Chan who first started breaking boundaries where the costume wearer became the character . The Solo costume bands maintained the tradition of being storytellers, and used lighter materials such as cane and bamboo with an emphasis on local ingredients. The costumes were carried on the body and not on wheels which allowed for exciting performances on stage. Solo used characters and storylines and made them into productions of color, costume, sculpture, and music, where the participants also served as the performers and characters in their story.

Chan and the Solo Band stayed true to the core meaning of Mashramani as a celebration and an artistic expression that tells the story of Guyana’s rich and unique culture. Solo sought to preserve the tradition and true spirit of Mashramani, emphasising creativity, pageantry and craftsmanship. This will be part of the judging criteria for the Neil Chan Prize.

The Neil Chan Foundation, in the near future would like to work with the Department of Culture to develop the Festival Arts in Guyana by providing training for young designers to enhance the standard and quality of Mashramani, thereby ensuring that this significant Festival continues to develop in a way that it reflects the cultural and moral values of our nation.


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