Greetings by Dr. the Honourable Nyan Gadsby-Dolly at the Opening of the 27th Regional Cultural Committee Meeting

Wednesday 27th March 2019

It is my honour on behalf of the Government and people of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, to welcome you to the 27th Regional Cultural Committee Meeting. This meeting represents the confluence of some of the region’s most influential and culturally-acute minds, determined to elevate the cultural sector within the Caribbean thus bolstering its international presence.

The theme for the hosting of the 14th installment of CARIFESTA connect, share, invest begs the question. How can we leverage this premier Caribbean Festival of the Arts as a model for increasing cultural entrepreneurship and festival tourism in the region?

Trinidad and Tobago like the rest of the region, and the world, is currently experiencing rigid fiscal constraint, and the innovation and sheer volume of creative entrepreneurs emerging during this time is simply extraordinary. In our country, there has been a significant increase in the number of local markets for craft artisans, artists and culinary entrepreneurs throughout the past three (3) years, with an active push towards environmentally sustainable business practices- green practices. I am sure you have seen this thrust across the region.

The Carnival period in Trinidad and Tobago brought a new and interesting spin on the strength of regional integration and its power in an unprecedented measure.  We in Trinidad and Tobago ran with it together as “famalay-lay-lay” – the power of what happened in Trinidad and Tobago in 2019 Carnival is but a snapshot of the fruit that our regional effort at CARIFESTA can bear.

The Talent Search and Casting Call is already one of the biggest success stories of CARIFESTA XIV, which saw over 400 enthusiastic acts comprising thousands of artistes across the country vying for an opportunity to participate in the festival. Those selected will undergo developmental training from veterans in the industry and will join talent from the region to perform for thousands of local and regional audiences at the Festival’s 150+ shows and activities. We were blown away by the talent that emerged from this casting call, and we’re already counting it as one of the very important legacies of CARIFESTA XIV. It is legacy even before the festival starts- thus is the power of culture.

As expected, communities across Trinidad and Tobago will also have their opportunity to harness the economic benefits of CARIFESTA. There will be four (4) community festivals providing visitors with authentic cultural experiences by visiting local landmarks, enjoying cuisine, craft, and traditional cultural displays.  But this is not all; the community festivals will provide an opportunity for a visiting delegation to be twinned with a community to share their cultural heritage.  What a unique treat for locals and visitors alike!

Niche festivals are also making their way into our CARIFESTA space, including a Food and Rum Festival within the Grand Market, a Best Village Festival featuring the finest competitors of the 53 year old Best Village Competition, a cultural segment exclusively featuring our National Performing Arts Entities (NSSO, NPO, NTAC), an East Indian cultural evening at the Divali Nagar, a Chinese Cultural Exchange, an African celebration in honour of the International Decade of People of African descent, a Jazz show, yet another growing genre with its own ‘season’ of sorts after Trinidad and Tobago’s Carnival, a super concert with regional headliners, a Pan Festival, a Laugh Festival (we all love to laugh) and one that I am particularly passionate about and maybe just a bit biased towards: a women’s only evening of music at the Naparima Bowl.

We will have the classical, the urban, the traditional, the folk, Film Festival, Literary Arts, theatre – something for everyone at CARIFESTA XIV.

Tobago is not to be outdone as delegations and visitors from across the region and beyond will experience Tobago as host to its own signature country night and mini presentations.  Tobago has perfected its own indigenous suite of festivals and will share this with the region’s best at the Pembroke Heritage Park Salaka and the Castara Bon Fire.

Through these illustrations, we are demonstrating that within the traditional CARIFESTA offerings there can be unique, cultural initiatives that can flourish into stand-alone festivals.

CARIFESTA has tremendous earning potential for the region, in terms of festival tourism and cultural entrepreneurship.  All of us, as cultural policy makers and leaders in our countries through CARICOM and the hosting of CARIFESTA, have made a commitment to support economic diversification, promote cultural entrepreneurship and provide our young brilliant minds with avenues for channelling their innovation and passions into viable careers in the arts. This is the challenge, but more importantly this is the opportunity; and workshops and symposia will seek to highlight the pathways through which our cultural goals can be achieved as we Journey Round Ourselves.

CARIFESTA XIV is centred on the theme “Connect, Share, Invest”, and we intend to market our various cultures to the world by bringing buyers to the festival, creating spaces for discourse and platforms for developing the various artforms on display. This CARIFESTA is not about Trinidad and Tobago, we are simply the host of another stage in CARIFESTA’S growth and positioning as a festival to rival some the world’s leading festivals.

We want our Carifesta to be recognised on the world stage and bring people from all around the world to participate in what we have in the region.

The success of CARIFESTA XIV will be the success of the Caribbean region, and we in Trinidad and Tobago are determined to deliver this to you.

I thank you and wish you a productive Meeting throughout the rest of the week.