Barbados is pumping millions into hosting the 13th edition of the Caribbean Festival of Arts (CARIFESTA) this summer, just weeks after this year’s Crop Over Festival, with renovations to performing venues on the cards and social media being used as a key tool to drive people here.
Minister of Culture, Youth Affairs and Sports Stephen Lashley said a budget of $8 million – $2 million for renovations to performing venues such as the Combermere School, St Leonard’s Secondary, Alexandra and Christ Church Foundation School and another $6 million for the execution of the 11-day festival – have been already earmarked by ministry officials.
Addressing the media at his Sky Mall, Haggatt Hall, St Michael office today, Lashley said planners expect about 3 000 artistes and artisans to converge on Barbados for the August 17-27 festival that has been given the sobriquet, the cultural Olympics of the region.
He said a feature of this year’s CARIFESTA will be an exhibition and sale of cultural goods and services in a marketplace, to which international buyers are being invited.
“This will be the first Caribbean Mega Mall exclusively featuring Caribbean creative products. This will be a key element in the CARIFESTA XIII programme. We want to encourage those persons other than official delegations to take the opportunity to participate in this, the Caribbean Mega Mall,” Lashley told reporters.
The minister contended that CARIFESTA is no longer a festival where artistes just meet for a show or to display a few cultural pieces, and he said it had to evolve even more.
“Since 1981[when CARIFESTA resumed after an 11-year-break], so much has happened in terms of the cultural landscape of the region. Indeed, you will be aware that several countries, including Barbados, have gone the route of placing a lot of emphasis on the cultural industries. Today, they loom large as being a new frontier for economic development. Indeed, CARIFESTA, within the context of 2017 and going forward, would have to basically reflect the realities of what has happened in the region in relation to utilizing the creative energies of our people to ensure that we could actually create new sectors and new engines for economic growth,” he said.
“CARIFESTA now has to collide and connect with the vision of the governments of the Caribbean and certainly the Government of Barbados. We have to use our cultural industries sector to propel the country to new vistas of growth and development.”
Lashley disclosed that a website, www.carifesta.net, created by Acute Vision which is responsible for general advertising, will be a key tool in providing information on CARIFESTA locally, regionally and across the world.
He also said the ministry has engaged the services of South Central Entertainment for the social media and entertainment marketing component.
The website and social media platforms went live today.
According to Lashley, volunteerism will also play a big role in the festival.
“We want to ensure that Barbados continues to be a place [where] everyone takes on some responsibility for the success of the event . . . . We want the nation on board,” the minister said.