As the official Barbados delegation prepares to head to Trinidad and Tobago later this week to attend the fourteenth edition of the Caribbean Festival of Arts (CARIFESTA XIV), Chief Cultural Officer, Andrea Wells says she is pleased with the number of entrepreneurs selling arts and crafts that are willing to attend the event “on their own steam”.
Speaking at a press conference at the National Cultural Foundation’s West Terrace headquarters, Wells said: “Over the last four years, we have noticed more entrepreneurs coming out, including visual artists, writers, and craftspeople, who are willing to pay their way to attend CARIFESTA.
“This year, we have ten such artists taking part along with the official 55-member delegation.”
She said while they were not part of the official delegation, they were free to participate in the events that group was coordinating and the NCF did facilitate them in terms of shipping their material and taking care of any other needs they were unable to handle on their own.
“We put out an official request for participants on our website earlier this year, and we found that the artists responded well.
“We also held community auditions, which attracted forty-four different acts,” Wells said.
But she said the visual arts community presented a greater challenge.
Wells said: “We started reaching out to them in February, when we circulated the theme of the exhibition, which was Caribbean Interconnections.
“At first they did not respond very well, but then we recirculated the theme for the Crop Over Visual Arts Exhibition.
“There were also changes at the CARIFESTA level, in that they wanted to have one central regional exhibition, where curators and art collectors would come together and select the pieces.
“The team suggested a shortlist of 20 artists, nine of whom sent in work by the deadline, and it was decided that all the works submitted would be used.”
The NCF’s Director of Theatre Productions Alison Sealy-Smith said that two theatrical presentations would form part of Barbados’ performing arts presentations, namely What’s Good for the Goose written by Kenneth Jack Lewis, and Journey to the Last Canes, a modified reissue of the presentation incorporating Barbados’ musical genres from tuk to spouge to bashment soca, which formed part of this year’s Crop Over Festival Opening Gala.
She said the latter would form part of the Country Night, which mostly featured only musical performances.
In cinema, there will be four local films at CARIFESTA this year, namely Liquid Gold by Rommell Hall; a Penny Hynam documentary on the life of artist Jill Walker; and Cliff Gittens has submitted two productions entitled Fisheries and “Island Strong”.
Film Commissioner Annette Nias said: “We are also pleased to note that the organisers have included a section for ‘classic’ films and Alison Saunders’ “Hit for Six” (2007) has been included in that lineup.”
The youngest performer is eleven-year-old dancer, singer and actress, Tahirah Gibbons, who said: When I first heard I was selected I was nervous, but excited, then I got scared when I went to the first rehearsal. It has been a long, tough and emotional process so far, but I know it will turn out well and I can’t wait for everyone to see how it will turn out.”
2019 Junior Calypso Monarch in the 15-18 age range, Qu’on, said it will be a learning experience for him.
He said: “I have to sing a number of different songs in different styles, including spouge, which I have never tried before, but I am happy to gain the experience and it will help me to grow as a performer.”
The delegation, which apart from the performers also includes Minister of Culture, the Creative Economy and Sports John King and other senior officials from his ministry, leaves the island on Thursday.
CARIFESTA XIV runs from August 16 to August 25, and the NCF said it will be keeping Barbadians up to date on the events via its website and social media pages.