The hosting of the Caribbean Festival of Arts (CARIFESTA XIV) in August 2019 in Trinidad and Tobago is at the top of the agenda of the Twenty-Sixth Meeting of the Regional Cultural Committee (RCC) being held this week at the CARICOM Secretariat in Georgetown, Guyana.
Directors of Culture as well as representatives from various Regional Cultural stakeholders converged at the Secretariat to discuss cultural matters, chief of which is CARIFESTA XIV. Issues such as leveraging CARICOM’s cultural assets, Reparations for Native Genocide and Slavery, Animation and financing culture, are also on the agenda.
CARICOM Assistant Secretary General (ASG), Human and Social Development, Dr. Douglas Slater and the Assistant Secretary General, Political Affairs and Human Development for the ACP Group of States, His Excellency Leonard-Emile Ognimba, addressed the opening ceremony of the Meeting.
ASG Slater in his remarks noted that recently Caribbean governments were paying more interest in the growth potential of culture. He reminded delegates that at the Twenty-Sixth Intersessional Meeting held in The Bahamas in February 2015, CARICOM Heads of Government had reaffirmed the significance of the cultural and creative industries to Regional Integration and the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME), cultural identity, diversity and youth engagement.
“Our Ministers of Culture have led the way in advocating and calling for more investment in culture in CARICOM and have identified CARIFESTA as the ideal Regional forum through which we showcase Caribbean Arts and Culture”, he said.
He added that the RCC would assist in guiding Trinidad and Tobago in its preparation for the next staging of CARIFESTA in 2019. He opined that CARIFESTA belonged to all the Region and everyone’s input was needed.
Mr. Ognimba thanked the CARICOM Secretariat for granting the ACP Secretariat the opportunity to engage with the Region on common programmes, particularly those related to culture. He said that the cultural dimension had a very important place in the ACP Programmes. He remarked that the meeting was happening at a crucial time when ACP was preparing to negotiate a new Economic Partnership Agreement with the European Union. He said that he hoped the Region would express solidarity with the group to enable a successful negotiation.
CARIFESTA, first held in 1972, is the Caribbean Community’s premier art and culture festival. It’s main purpose, which was a mandate of the CARICOM Heads of Government, is to celebrate the arts, foster a vision of Caribbean unity while advancing Caribbean culture regionally and internationally. This roving event attracts artists and culture professionals from more than 30 countries in the Region and has been held 13 times across eight countries. Among the CARICOM Member States that have hosted this culturally iconic event are: Guyana (1972, 2008), Jamaica (1976), Barbados (1981, 2017), Trinidad and Tobago (1992, 1995, 2006), St. Kitts and Nevis (2000), Suriname (2003, 2013) and Haiti (2015). The Festival was held in Cuba in 1979.