As part of the 2016 Saint Lucia Jazz & Art’ Festival, a new and vibrant element has been added to this year’s programme, with the aim of focusing more on the creative aspect of arts locally. The result is the Arts Village an open-access atelier initiative and exhibition of creative art forms at what is now known as Massav Park near Choc. The brainchild of local creatives Darwin Guard and Dahlia Francois, activities hosted from the opening day, Monday May 2 included spoken word, a visual art display and a film exhibition dubbed ‘Montage’.
The film activity was coordinated by Dove Production’s Managing Director Colin Weekes and featured local films displayed on a large screen before a small audience. The event offered local filmmakers the opportunity to showcase their work. Seminars and workshops were conducted.
When asked about his hopes for the initiative Weekes replied, “We would just like to see this continue. This venue provides a good avenue to be able to express and exhibit our work, so if it’s open, then we actually know there is an area we can come to encourage people to produce more stuff. We hope the powers that be see the opportunity to keep it alive.”
The STAR also interviewed Dahlia Francois who is the designer of the Arts Village site: “Adrian Augier, Darwin Guard and myself won the bid to do an Arts Exhibition for Jazz because as a part of the 25th anniversary the Tourist Board wanted the focus to be on the Creative Arts, the sculptors, painters. They wanted to feature them as part of the anniversary.” She continued, “Darwin came up with the idea; he figured it should be something like a village, where the artists could come to interact, meet and greet, converse and feel at home.”
Francois explained that being the creative person she is, she took his suggestions literally. “We looked for a place, Super J consented for us to have it here, so we decided to create this Arts Village.”
Guard disclosed that one of their emphases was inculcating the educational component, which had been done with all the Jazz events, into the village project. “The same thing had to be done for this part.”
Francois also spoke of how they partnered with the Boys Training Centre, saying, “We figured that the boys would need a vocation and assistance, so this would be a good platform to begin the Pallet Project.” The venue is adorned with attractive tables and chairs made out of wood pallets.
Gary Butte, one of the artists whose work was on display, was present at the showcase. Butte has been on the arts scene for the past 20 years doing inspirational work in schools with students; he has also worked with the Cultural Development Foundation staging numerous artistic projects. “I have exhibited in Saint Lucia about four times for my major exhibitions,” he told the STAR. “The last was in 2011 when I featured my collection entitled Mass Parade.”
Butte added that he is “happy this is happening because I think one must never overlook opportunities, in whatever way they come. We must never limit ourselves.”
Aside from the positives of the entertainment aspect of the Arts Village, the culinary element was a sore point. Noticeably absent as a fixture was any local fare – but international franchises like Subway and Dominos were represented. One young, local culinary entrepreneur Jordyn, a form 4 student of the St. Joseph’s Convent attempted on day two to add some local touch with cakes and pastries. Still the whiff of a bouillon or green fig and salt-fish would have made the picture of the Arts Village closer to perfect.