Meeting sets the stage for CARIFESTA X

GREATER GEORGETOWN, Guyana – Preparations are already underway for the 10th staging of the Region’s flagship cultural festival, the Caribbean Festival of Arts (CARIFESTA), to be hosted by The Bahamas in August 2008.

Coordinated by the Interim Festival Directorate (IFD), the regional advisory body to CARICOM, CARIFESTA is envisioned by the Council for Social and Human Development (COHSOD) as “a world-renowned hallmark festival of Caribbean cultural and artistic excellence, that generates economic benefits, unites the Region and excites all the peoples.”

At the recent Fifth Meeting of the IFD held in the Commonwealth of The Bahamas on February 8-9 2007, preliminary details regarding the production, management, marketing and promotion of this festival were discussed. The meeting also conducted a comprehensive evaluation of CARIFESTA IX with a view to using the results to inform the current planning of CARIFESTA X.

According to CARICOM Secretariat’s Program Manager for Culture, Dr. Hilary Brown, the IFD will ensure that there is a good governance structure in place for CARIFESTA X; that early and aggressive marketing and promotions are done and that greater efforts will be made to involve the Private Sector and other key stakeholders of the Caribbean in the production of the 10-day festival.

Dr Brown notes that all parties involved in the planning of the festival have arrived at consensus regarding their role and specific responsibilities and that the host country, The Bahamas, is expected to present to the CARICOM Secretariat an elaborate proposal, which would include specific dates, sites, logo, activities and theme for the festival. Already, a reconnaissance of several sites has been conducted in The Bahamas by members of the IFD.

In developing the theme, Dr Brown says, the IFD had recommended that special attention be given to several critical areas, which should give focus to CARIFESTA X. These include exploring the strong link between culture and tourism; emphasizing links with the Caribbean Diaspora; promoting gospel and Caribbean religious heritage; placing greater emphasis on Caribbean creative industries and facilitating a trade fair component and professional networking.

Additionally, signal events and super concerts will continue to be featured events in CARIFESTA X, in accordance with the new governance model as detailed in the Strategic Plan that was developed and adopted by the special COHSOD X on Culture, in 2004.

In 2006, elements of this model were incorporated in CARIFESTA IX and the IFD, which is the transitional body in the new management structure of CARIFESTA, plans to integrate more elements of this new CARIFESTA model into the 2008 Festival.

The new model is guided by 12 key strategic objectives, which establish new targets, benchmarks and indicators for monitoring the implementation of the festival.

The strategic objectives are categorized under three critical success factors: operational excellence, market leadership and stakeholder interest. The proposed structure establishes a clearly defined governance structure with a festival directorate operating as the executing agency and a board of directors as the strategic policy-making body.

The festival directorate will liaise with the host country and the sending countries about programming and event management issues.

For CARIFESTA X, the membership of the IFD comprises officials of the CARICOM Secretariat; Trinidad and Tobago, the immediate past host for CARIFESTA; The Bahamas, the current host; representatives of the CARICOM Youth Ambassadors (CYA) program and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) as well as representatives of the artistic community in CARICOM.

This Directorate will be supported by a Host Country Management Committee (HCMC) in The Bahamas, comprising specialists in a wide range of skills and expertise in areas such as programming, logistics, media, arts and culture, marketing and merchandising.

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