Chief Executive Officer of the Pinelands Creative Workshop (PCW) Rodney Grant has described as a ‘farce”, the recently concluded National Independent Festival of Creative Arts (NIFCA).
In a stinging criticism of the event, the cultural advocate questioned the authenticity of the indigenous cultural currency offered by the premier performing arts festival.
Speaking at a PCW seminar at the amphitheatre of the Warrens Complex today, Grant said this was especially disheartening in the context of Barbados’ 50th anniversary celebrations.
“If you look at NIFCA, I am very disturbed about what is happening at NIFCA. NIFCA is poor reflection of a Barbadian reality in a post-independence Barbados and at a time when we are celebrating 50 years of our independence. It is sad to see that we can’t find five good indigenous pieces in our national festival. That is farce,” Grant stressed.
He argued that the infiltration by outside influences was a reflection of a lack of confidence in the country’s indigenous creative influences.
“We [Pinelands Creative Workshop] toured Mexico twice and we did not go with a deodorized watered-down culture of Barbados, and when we left Mexico, they were chanting ‘Barbad’. They were dancing to the tuk band and singing Barbadian songs. It was the way we presented it them that allowed us to capture them; and this is a non-English speaking audience,” Grant said.
The veteran cultural advocate drew comparisons with Trinidadian dancer Beryl Mc Burnie who became accomplished in the arts in the United States without compromising her indigenous influence.
“We have to get back to rebuilding our product because once you have a strong product then you are confident in that product. But once you don’t have the information to build that strong product you run into problems. You go out there and put together any old thing and you feel you have to keep changing it to reflect a nuance that is coming from outside,” he complained.
Grant recommended that proper research be done to rescue Barbados’ cultural identity “from this grab of the international norm” that is allowed to dilute it.
“You need to look at your own national content to build your cultural product. It is only then it would be worthy of national viewing, regional viewing or international exposure. That is where we have to go,” he concluded.