FRC – Harold Simmons Folk Academy

Portrait of Harry Simmons by Cedric George.

The Board and Management of the Folk Research Centre will conduct a workshop on Wednesday  March 30th to examine the feasibility of the establishment of a Folk Academy. The idea for such an institution is not a new one, but the organization is making a fresh attempt to make it a reality. It is proposed that the Academy would provide structured teaching in the areas of folk culture, Kwéyòl literacy, language and culture, customs and traditions, popular theatre, St Lucian arts and literature and other related areas.
The Folk Research Centre began in 1973 when a group led by Msgr Dr Patrick Anthony initiated research into various aspects of the folk culture of St. Lucia. Their approach differed from earlier attempts as they brought a scientific, anthropological approach to their examination and investigations of St. Lucian traditions and customs. Through media programmes, publications and events for schools, the FRC has continued to promote St Lucian folk culture. It began the now-popular Jounen Kwéyòl celebrations in 1984 which have become an island-wide event.
The workshop will be used to analyse the strengths and weaknesses of the 38-year-old FRC and to provide information on the economic, socio-cultural, technological and political environment in which the institution operates. The analyses are expected to identify key, strategic issues which would define fundamental policy questions and critical challenges that affect the FRC and its services to the public. The workshop will be a participatory one consisting of Board and management, members, persons from similar organizations, from educational institutions, corporate interests and community organizations. Out of the analyses will come a strategic plan for the ongoing development of the FRC and the institution of the Folk Academy.
The Academy will be named after the late Harold Simmons (1914-1966) who is regarded as the father of modern St Lucian arts and culture. He has long been regarded as the guiding spirit and major influence on the work of the FRC. He was mentor to a generation of very influential St. Lucians who were writers, artists, photographers, cultural anthropologists, historians. These include Hon Derek Walcott, Sir Dunstan St Omer, Leo ‘Spa’ St Helene, Dame Sesenne Descartes, the Hon Charles Cadet, among many others. In 2005, the FRC named Harold Simmons a National Cultural Hero.
The present Chairperson of the FRC Board is Mr Hilary Laforce while the Executive Director is Dr Kentry JnPierre.

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