At the most well known regional arts expose CARIFESTA, which this year is being held in Suriname, Saint Lucia is being represented by a forty member strong contingent. The Saint Lucian group, which is under the auspicies of the Cultural Development Foundation (the CDF) includes dancers, musicians, singers, poets and actors and is a blend of youth and experience. So far reports out of Suriname is that the Saint Lucian performances have been very well received.
Last Saturday evening, Saint Lucian performers took to the stage with the production of “Man Story” a one-man social commentary by veteran actor and playwright George “Fish” Alphonse. The island also participated in a regional fashion show, with models showing off the designs of Queen Esther’s Kumba Designs and madras couture by Sharleen Lagon among others.
Traditional masquerade by Saint Lucian dancers were also on show this week and on poetry night Kendal Hippolyte one of the island’s foremost poets and writers performed one of his pieces. In music the Barbara Cadet Quintet has been thrilling audiences, whilst the talk of the town this week has been “Youth on Fire Ministries” from Anse La Raye. The young group presented a thrilling piece “Jazz Country” that was very well appreciated. Jazz country is written by Travis Weekes and the production includes dance, drama and readings from the works of many of Saint Lucia’s top writers – Derek Walcott, Kendel Hippolyte, Robert Lee and Mc Donald Dixon among others.
Saint Lucia is among twenty-four countries taking part in CARIFESTA XI this year in Suriname.
The first Caribbean Festival of Arts CARIFESTA took place in Guyana in 1972. It was organized by Guyana’s then President Forbes Burnham, based on a similar event that took place in Puerto Rico in 1952. He held a number of conferences with Caribbean artists and writers that eventually led to the first CARIFESTA, conceived out of an appeal from a regional gathering of artists who were at the time participating in a Writers and Artists Convention in Guyana, in 1970.
The three main considerations with regard to the staging of CARIFESTA were that the Festival should be inspirational and should provide artists with the opportunity to discuss among themselves techniques and motivations. Secondly that it should be educational in that the people of the Caribbean would be exposed to the values emerging from the various art forms and it should relate to people and be entertaining on a scale and in a fashion that would commend itself to the Caribbean people
Today CARIFESTA is a celebration of the ethnic and racial diversity, which separately and collectively created cultural expressions that are wonderfully unique to the Caribbean.