“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,” La Rocque told the opening ceremiony at the Kensington Oval on the outskirts of the capital.
The opening had been delayed as a result of the passage of Tropical Storm Harvey that drenched the island on Thursday night and despite the initial disappointment, the organisers said Barbados, which is hosting the event for the second time since 1981, will produce a festival to rival previous ones.
The Secretary General said that there is much store for the cultural sector including some US2.6 million 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 said that this boost from the Barbados-based Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) is just one of the great things for the culture sector.
The host Minister of Culture Youth and Sport, 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 told the gathering that included Prime Minister, Barbados Freundel Stuart, government ministers from the region, that 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 his address, Lashley thanked the various delegations 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.
- Countries: Barbados