Minister of Culture, Sports and Youth, Stephen Lashley, has expressed satisfaction with Barbados’ representation at the recently concluded 11th edition of CARIFESTA in Paramaribo, Suriname.
Having led a delegation of creative practitioners and officials to the South American country, Lashley said that Barbados was able to demonstrate to the rest of the Caribbean, “a very high level of skill and expertise in theatre arts, music, craft, literary arts, visual arts and film”.
In an interview with the Barbados Government Information Service on his return, he described the response to Barbados’ booths at the Grand Market as “remarkable”, adding that this augured well for sales for artists and artisans who had products on display.
The Culture Minister explained that CARIFESTA resulted in several positive outcomes, including the successful negotiation by the National Cultural Foundation to secure a wholesale order for Barbadian company, Tropical Weavers, to provide a line of products to a chain of exclusive Paramaribo stores.
“We had an outstanding display of quality craft items from 32 Barbadian artisans. And although we could not compete on price, we effectively competed on quality and doubled our sales projections,” he explained.
Barbadian Literary Arts also did well in Suriname, and Lashley was pleased to announce that sales at this year’s CARIFESTA surpassed those at previous events.
“The stall mainly featured books for children, but focus was also placed on quality publications by 20 individual authors and compendia of several others in the NCF’s and BIM anthologies.
“Daily sales were made and enhanced by the readings and workshops held by Nailah Imoja and Linda Deane. There was also an offer to secure funding for Imoja to stage a workshop for writers in the Eastern Caribbean on Digital Publishing,” Lashley reported.
The Barbadian music industry was represented by Soka Kartel and Biggie Irie, with both headlining at the Barbados Country Night.
“Many of the audience had never heard their music before, but they received great feedback. Electronic Press Kits were distributed widely to the international music promoters who attended the CARICOM music showcase and the email contacts that were acquired from this group will be given to Barbadian musicians and managers,” the Culture Minister disclosed.
He added that the NCF had also facilitated the participation of the jazz band, The 1688 Nonet, led by Stefan Walcott, in the CARIFESTA Jazz Concert Series.
“The band played both classic covers and original tunes to packed audiences who received their work enthusiastically. The NCF subsequently, courted an offer by a St. Lucia promoter for the band to possibly appear at that island’s 2014 Jazz Festival. This has been referred to Mr. Walcott,” he said.
Although the visual arts exhibition featured works of six Barbadian artists, no sales were made. However, Mr. Lashley said that his ministry was able to make contact with regional artists and tour the Tembe Art Studios of Surinamese artist, Marcel Pi√as.
He continued: “Members of the delegation visited the studio which is located in the maroon village of Moengo and discussed possible collaborations, exchanges and participations in festivals between Barbadian artists and their Surinamese counterparts.”
Six Barbadian films were showcased in the film festival and a team of film students from the Errol Barrow Centre for Creative Imagination at the University of the West Indies’ Cave Hill Campus was sent to document CARIFESTA.
The Bajan theatrical production, House of Landship, also received a positive response, particularly from a cultural events producer who stages shows for the Caribbean diaspora in Miami. The play was produced by Winston Farrell originally for the 2013 Day of National Significance during Barbados’ emancipation season.
Lashley explained that Government was looking to explore closer cultural collaboration with sister Caribbean countries and one way of doing so was to encourage cultural exchanges. He said he had recently discussed the possibility of a cultural exchange with Jamaica’s Minister of Culture, Lisa Hanna.
Minister Lashley said another initiative would see greater facilitation by the Government as a natural follow-up to CARIFESTA to ensure that Barbadian artists and artisans could gain exposure internationally for their products and services, with a view to earning foreign exchange. (SP/BGIS)