“We supported those who were prepared to support themselves, because the arrangements were too late for the Government of Saint Lucia to factor into everything else. And so we supported 53 persons to participate in CARIFESTA this year, and they range from dancers to entrepreneurs.”
That statement is from Culture Minister Fortuna Belrose as she began her report on the Saint Lucian contingent to CARIFESTA, happening now in Barbados, with an overview on her administration’s new approach to the biennial celebration of Caribbean culture and unity.
Although dwarfed by Haiti’s 140-strong contingent, Belrose nevertheless was pleased by Saint Lucia’s representation.
“We had a very good display from our entrepreneurs,” she told the media at today’s pre-Cabinet press briefing.
Some of the Saint Lucians who are in Barbados representing the country include Dahlia Francois, proprietor of Saint Lucia Books (a bookstore stocked with titles from local authors only), handbag and clothing designer Christine Samuel of Christy Creations, and fashion designer Queen Esther of Kuumba Designs.
“In terms of the presentation of Saint Lucia at the various events and the Grand Market, I think we had a very good showing there,” the minister said.
Beyond just the cultural exchange, however, Minister Belrose saw additional possibilities for the island.
“I think when countries like Saint Lucia go in to participate in these things, it’s with a view to seeing how best we can network, and perhaps how best we can look to replicate or even host an event of that nature in Saint Lucia. Of course, we’re looking in that direction at some point,” she said.
The 2019 festival is already scheduled to be held in Trinidad & Tobago, and Minister Belrose believes that Antigua is working on a bid for 2021. Therefore, she is setting her sights accordingly.
“If Saint Lucia is looking at this event, it would have to be down the road, perhaps in the next four to six years…which gives us sufficient time to do it right, in terms of our country and preparing ourselves to participate in the way that we should,” she stated.
The Minister continued, “CARIFESTA is not an ordinary event. CARIFESTA is really the pinnacle of your national programs, because that’s what you really want to go and showcase at the Caribbean level. And so for us as a government now, the thrust is to ensure that at the base we are well structured to make sure that our National Arts Festival reflects the kind of programming that we will want to go and showcase outside of Saint Lucia.”
Belrose indicated that there are measures being put in place to ensure that the Cultural Development Foundation would be well suited to take charge of these efforts.
“At the moment, we’re looking at the whole question of a strategic review of the CDF to ensure that we structure the organisation to be better able to deal with issues and to respond to programmes like the CARIFESTA in a meaningful way,” she said.