So I haven't written much on the thing that's been taking up all my time between waking and sleeping for the past two weeks. CARIFESTA IX Trinidad and Tobago has taken place, and it is winding down with far more energy than it began; and at some point, I will write something about it. But I read the following article today (thanks to my husband, who is an inveterate news consumer) and it struck a chord. But it also reinforced what I know to be true: that culture persists in being regarded throughout the region (with the exception of Suriname, who understands what culture can do for a country, presumably) as "light" fare, something not requiring heads of governments.From the Jamaica Observer:
Participation in CARIFESTA 2006, the ninth since its historic inauguration in Guyana in 1972, came from 23 of an originally expected 30 countries of the Greater Caribbean.Hosting the festival for the third time is estimated to cost Trinidad and Tobago approximately US$5 million (TT$30 million), all being borne by the government in Port-of-Spain.Culture and Community Development Minister Joan Yuille Williams had much praise for the "overwhelming responses" from participating countries in the delegations mounted and, as she reflected, "the inspiring performances being provided in various areas of our rich, diversified cultural life..."...Pity, I told her in our telephone conversation, that the region's media, in particular regional television, had not been incorporated by the local organisers and CARICOM's Regional Cultural Committee as an integral partner to ensure live coverage of at least some major events, including the normally very colourful "parade of nations" ceremonial opening of the festival....Apart from the host country, I cannot recall front-page prominence being provided by any of our leading newspapers monitored, even for the ceremonial opening event. When not sparse, news coverage has often reflected an unfortunate parochial orientation in reports on this grand multi-faceted, pan-Caribbean celebration of the ways of life of the indigenous and all "the peoples who came".from JAMAICA POLL, CARIFESTA CHALLENGES - Rickey Singh
I must say that for the first time in a long time, if ever, this CARIFESTA was well supported for The Bahamas by our media. We had ZNS and BIS with us, as well as a reporter from the Guardian. Perhaps the problem, though, is that culture doesn't count as "news" but as "features". That's worth some discussion, I think, but it's interesting.Anyway, Singh's article provoked my thoughts. I don't know whether CARIFESTA warrants the attendance of Heads of Government or not; that's something I'll have to ponder. But if anybody has their own thoughts, feel free.