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News & Events : Caribbean News : ‘Let’s astound...
‘Let’s astound the world’ By Mark Ramotar
  Thursday, October 11, 2007   - The News

Anthony plugs CARIFESTA X to CARICOM
Our culture is a powerful source of prosperity (and) we need to unleash its potential’

GUYANA’S proud hosting of the Caribbean Community’s flagship cultural exposition – the Caribbean Festival of Arts (CARIFESTA) next year, is a great opportunity for the region to “astound the world” with its beauty, diversity and creativity, Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport Dr. Frank Anthony declared yesterday.

“Join us as we unleash our culture upon the world,” he urged the more than fifty regional delegates at the opening of the Sixteenth Meeting of the Council for Human and Social Development (COHSOD) being held at Le Meridien Pegasus Hotel in Georgetown.

“Our culture is a powerful source of prosperity (and) we need to unleash its potential,” Anthony charged.

Coordinated by the Interim Festival Directorate (IFD), the regional advisory body to CARICOM, CARIFESTA is envisioned by the COHSOD as “a world-renowned hallmark festival of Caribbean cultural and artistic excellence, that generates economic benefits, unites the region and excites all the peoples.”

Focusing on youth and culture development under the theme ‘Realizing the Potential of Youth and Culture in the Development of the Community’, the Sixteenth COHSOD brings together CARICOM Ministers of Government and directors with responsibility for culture, youth, education and health, and delegates from regional youth and culture institutions.

The three-day meeting will, among other things, examine critically the lessons learnt from the staging of CARIFESTA IX in Trinidad and Tobago in 2006; review progress of the implementation of elements of the new CARIFESTA governance structure introduced in 2004; and explore ways of financing culture and promoting cultural industries in the Caribbean.

In addition, the council will note and deliberate on strategies to unearth and realise the potential of youth and culture in the development of the community.

According to the CARICOM Secretariat in Georgetown, Guyana will tomorrow unveil plans for staging the mega festival next year, including signal events at designated sites, strategies for marketing and publicity; the proposed budget for the festival as well as further implementation of the new CARIFESTA Governance Model.

Elements of this model were incorporated in CARIFESTA IX In 2006, and the IFD, which is the transitional body in the new management structure of CARIFESTA, plans to integrate more elements of this new CARIFESTA model into the 2008 Festival.

CARICOM said the new model is guided by 12 key strategic objectives, which establish new targets, benchmarks and indicators for monitoring the implementation of the festival.

The strategic objectives are categorized under three critical success factors: operational excellence, market leadership and stakeholder interest.

The proposed structure establishes a clearly defined governance structure with a festival directorate operating as the executing agency and a board of directors as the strategic policy-making body. The festival directorate will liaise with the host country and the sending countries about programming and event management issues.

The ‘soft’ launch of CARIFESTA X tomorrow will close the curtains on three days of deliberations on the youth and culture agendas in the region.

“Our interaction over the next few days will yield points of consensus, and points of contention (and) the maturity of the discussion would mean that we do not have to agree on everything but certainly, we do need to understand each other’s perspectives and opinions”, Anthony said.

“It is my hope that the cross fertilization of ideas would help us advance as a region,” he posited.

Barbados Minister of State within the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, Ms. Cynthia Forde, congratulated Guyana for undertaking the role of host of CARIFESTA X and pledged Barbados’ support in making this important festival a success.

“I look forward to the discussions on the new CARIFESTA which must strike at the heart of making our cultural festivals internationally attractive and part of the essence of marketing the uniqueness of the talents of this region,” Minister Forde told the gathering.

She said the development of human resources with competences in international events planning and management will no doubt rebound to the benefit of the region as it competes for the hosting and delivery of other international events.

CARICOM Secretary General, Dr. Edwin Carrington, was very optimistic that the mega CARIFESTA event will serve well “its important cultural, financial, and community building objectives”.

Noting that this meeting of COHSOD focuses on two important aspects of human and social development, youth and culture, Carrington pointed out that in recent development literature, there has been heightened awareness of the role of culture in development.

According to him, the challenge of mainstreaming culture into development thinking and practice in the region is one which this meeting of the COHSOD will address as it examines policy and practice for ensuring that the potential of culture is realized.

He noted that important agenda items in this regard are those that consider the strengthening of regional mechanisms for sustainable financing for culture, the development and facilitation of cultural industries, given their demonstrated potential for significant contribution to the regional economies, and the refocusing of efforts to ensure that CARIFESTA serves well its important cultural, financial, and community building objectives.

Guyana will host CARIFESTA X from August 22 to 31, 2008 and preparations are already being made and said to be going “full steam ahead” to ensure peoples of the Caribbean, Latin America and Spain can celebrate their cultures at a memorable event.

This is the second time Guyana is hosting CARIFESTA, following the first in 1972.

His ministry is tasked with overall responsibility for the staging and he told reporters recently that work has been ongoing behind the scenes, ever since the announcement that this country committed to hosting the mega-event, after the new government of The Bahamas declined.

Guyana plans to invite 35 countries to the 10-day festival which features about 100 activities and Anthony said his ministry will soon embark on an intensive marketing strategy targeting the region and the wider diaspora.

A CARIFESTA Secretariat has since been established, and an oversight committee, headed by Prime Minister Samuel Hinds, will monitor the preparatory works.

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