The National Independence Festival of Creative Arts (NIFCA) is back staging its first live showcase since 2019. The annual festival is now in its 49th year.
Like Crop Over, the national festival that is synonymous with top local talent, will have in-person events throughout the month of November.
Last year, Barbados TODAY partnered with the National Cultural Foundation (NCF) to bring our Facebook audience the live stream of the launch of the NIFCA Online Channel.
We would have livestreamed most of the events presented in a digital format.
Thousands abroad and at home found interviews with musical icons compelling with the programme Reminisce. Actors, actresses and spoken word artistes were a part of theatre arts Rewind. Those interested in literary arts were logged on to a radio drama, Ashes to Ashes. In culinary they were given tips during the Cooking the Enid Maxwell Way episodes. But the biggest hit was the Bajan Songbook production.
The 24-hour channel not only offered new content but also servings of nostalgia with the airing of NIFCA’s past.
Based on what was said at a media launch Wednesday there is something in each event for lovers of the arts.
NCF Chief Executive Officer Carol Roberts-Reifer promised that the varied artistic communities were all reflected in the programming.
She said: “NIFCA 2022 will be delivered in a hybrid format that combines both digital and face-to-face events and experiences, generating content that will be available for distribution online in the future.
“Each of the seven disciplines usually featured at NIFCA will be showcased… Prior to this evening’s launch, we would have engaged with the NIFCA community over a period of weeks and a lot of the comments and recommendations out of that series of interactions actually informs the NIFCA programme this year,” the CEO said.
For years, NIFCA has served our country’s artists and artistes well. Unlike Crop Over, the other festival produced by the NCF, NIFCA plays a far more developmental role. On that stage, school choirs, community groups, church groups, budding musicians, aspiring actors, would-be dancers and inmates of Dodds Prisons are all afforded the opportunity to “show wha’ they can do” quoting the lyrics to the well-known promotional jingle.
On NIFCA’s stages, some of our country’s best-known actors were born. The dance groups are plentiful and the year-long practice and hard work of many are showcased to the wider country in November. Our Bajan dishes and traditional eats also take centre stage at NIFCA. Icons such as Enid Maxwell in visual arts, the creative expression of our country’s artists is laid bare for all to see and interpret.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Culture, Senator Dr. Shantal Munro-Knight, said that NIFCA played an important role in helping to shape national identity.
“NIFCA encourages creatives to use all tools available in order to continue to tell the story of who we are and what makes us unique as Barbadian people. The goal to preserve our cultural heritage and expression goes hand-in-hand with our efforts to continually build out community programmes that are engaging in all disciplines.
She added: “The festival provides a massive platform for persons in different art forms to showcase their skills, express themselves and share in a community of like-minded individuals. Work displayed at the festival continues to highlight social, economic and environmental issues in a form that can be easily digested by the audiences that attend.”
The minister’s comments are interesting given all that has transpired over the past few days. If the goal is to preserve heritage then we cannot seek to rewrite or erase history.
All of the creative pieces whether it be song, dance, drama or writings are reflective of our Barbadian society. Essentially, these creative expressions tell the Barbadian story through the years from NIFCA’s inception in 1973.
As we move forward and reshape a Barbados that is more reflective of Barbadians, embracing our culture and heritage remains key. In whatever manner Barbados is redefined or reshaped, the preservation of our nationhood as we continue to be “strict guardians of our heritage” has to be at the forefront.
We owe it to future generations to ensure that the origins of our national identity are known, understood, appreciated and passed on. This is what makes us unique. This is what makes the story of Barbados such a special one.
NIFCA and its impact should never be undermined or diminished. Go out and be a part of the activities and continue to safeguard the rich history of the festival now in its 49th year of existence.
Whatever the outcome of the consultations on retaining November 30 as Independence Day, we must always have a place for NIFCA which is a huge outlet of artistic expression. Let’s hope too that the name of the festival is untouched.
The Barbados National Day Festival of Creative Arts has little meaning to the thousands who have won NIFCA awards over the years or the thousands who patronise it.