CARIFESTA Report: Friday

The main thing that happened today was the opening ceremony -- that and the settling of the arrangement with the apartments.  This was done with some discretion and some cowardice, and I'll say no more about that.  (The cowardice was on my part, in case anybody's wondering -- shame might be another word.  Say no more.)  The move simplifies some things -- it saves us the trouble of pickups from the apartments, and makes movement easier.But the opening overshadowed it all.Buddy's is literally next door to the stadium, where the opening and closing and super concerts take place.  With our accreditation, we participants can access the stadium without too much problem -- by walking, if necessary.  But we did have 32 people to move from the DDL houses (the rum estate houses, as the artists are calling them) to the hotel.  It took transportation some time to get to them, and so we all waited until everybody was at the hotel, then we moved.The opening was spectacular in a very literal sense.  The stadium is huge, and green, and seats 20,000 people if they use the ground as well as the stands, but the access to the opening and closing ceremonies was limited by the fact that both had to accommodate performers and overseas contingents.  The event was ticketed, but tickets were free, and were being distributed four to a person.  Not sure what the purpose of free ticketing was, although it does provide a baseline for knowing how many people attend.  Tickets were sold out to main events -- the business this festival is generating for Georgetown and Guyana is unprecedented.  Our private driver -- we booked a car to assist with transportation, rather than be at the mercy of the CARIFESTA Secretariat's transportation, which has to move 7,500 people, and which is not as bad as we imagined it would be, though there are some hiccups!) -- told us that there is work for everybody who wants it, and there's money in people's pockets.  Foreign exchange, too -- the hotels and banks are flush with US dollars.But that's an aside.  The opening was performed on a huge stage (imported to Guyana at an exorbitant cost, but clearly an investment that could bring dividends) and on the ground, and that was where the spectacle came in.  The actual acts were not so spectacular, with one or two exceptions, but the production as a whole was enviable.  We will have our work cut out for us to equal it in Nassau -- and we will have to spend money far more freely than we currently do when it comes to culture.  I have no real hopes for that, given my experience in this regard so far -- government accountants and other non-cultural officials always imagine they know better than cultural professionals what things should cost and are almost always wrong enough to cost extra money in the end.I think that the opening illuminated and inspired.  We have always said to our politicians that they have no idea what they have taken on with CARIFESTA, that they don't know the magnitude of it, as it's so rare that any of them attend unless it's in their own back yard.  Our minister came to me and told me that we were aiming too low, that we'd need the whole of the Western Esplanade and the ridge and the Botanical Gardens behind.  The Minister is spending his time visiting venues, which should inspire and impress, especially if he visits the National Cultural Centre and the Theatre Guild.  But we shall see what we need to go forward.