NIA CHARLESTOWN NEVIS (April 08, 2020) — The following is a statement by Hon. Eric Evelyn, Minister of Culture in the Nevis Island Administration (NIA) regarding the Culturama 2020 (C46) festival.
Fellow citizens and residents, I greet you to address an important matter that of Culturama 46 scheduled for July 23 to August 4, 2020.
As we are all aware the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis, as the rest of the World, is now facing the Novel Coronavirus or COVID-19 pandemic. As a result of this universal crisis, drastic changes have been made to activities and festivals region wide and we here on Nevis are not immune.
We have been carefully following the developments locally here in the Federation as well as across the region and globally. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has hit home and we have learnt of a number of confirmed cases here in St. Kitts and Nevis. What the future holds for us in terms of other confirmed cases, we do not know.
We have discussed the matter of Culturama at the Cabinet level and we have also solicited the views of members of the Culturama Committee. Taking into account the views of the Nevis Island Administration Cabinet as well as those of the overwhelming majority of Culturama Committee members, we have decided to cancel the staging of the festival this year or in essence, postpone Culturama 46 from July 23 to August 04, 2020 until July 22 to August 03, 2021.
In our deliberations we have taken into consideration what we feel would be some serious mitigating factors including but not limited to the following:
- It is no secret that Culturama is in most part funded by the Nevis Island Administration, and last year our expenditure totalled over $800,000.00. The NIA has already lost and will continue over the next few months to lose millions of dollars in revenue. Coupled with this, the NIA will and must divert funds into initiatives that will assist the hundreds of employees that have been affected by the pandemic. This automatically means that the NIA’s finances will be under severe strain and making it extremely difficult to allocate funds to support the festival.
- Nevisians in the diaspora who normally return home for Culturama are already disadvantaged and may find it difficult, if not impossible to travel for the rest of this year.
- With many of our sponsors losing monies and having to forego funds as they assist their customers during this pandemic, it would be unconscionable to approach them for the usual sponsorship packages.
- We must also bear in mind the time factor. We have already lost a few crucial weeks of planning and promotion and at this time we cannot predict how many more we would lose. Less time to plan and promote would negatively impact the overall execution of the product.
Some may ask, why not have an abridged version of the festival? The island of Nevis has worked tirelessly to develop our Culturama product, and to now in 2020 compromise its quality is not an option. It is either we are having Culturama or we are not having Culturama, there is no half way and there is no compromise. Coming from such a high of Culturama 45, we absolutely cannot risk sinking to a low that hosting the festival this year may cause.
We sincerely apologize to our sponsors, revellers, contestants, calypsonians, all Culturama participants, vendors, individuals and organizations who partner with us through the fringe activities, all stakeholders and members of the general public in St. Kitts and Nevis for having to make this decision.
We know that you will understand why this decision had to be made and we thank you for your understanding. Even though this decision is not one that brought us any joy, we are convinced that it is one taken in the best interest of the island.
We are aware that many will be disappointed as Culturama has been a summer staple that many look forward to but these are unprecedented times which demand making unprecedented decisions. Rest assured, that your government, this government will not compromise the health, well-being and safety of nationals and residents.
We assure you that we will redouble our efforts to make Culturama 2021 even bigger and better. We ask therefore that you start making your plans for C46 to be hosted during the period July 22 to August 03, 2021.
On a general note, and as we go through these challenging and unprecedented times let us take the opportunity to thank God for life, for health, for families and friends. Even though we are unsure of what tomorrow holds, let us hold on to faith and put fear aside.
I want to encourage all, to kindly continue to obey the orders and recommendations of the authorities. Please stay at home when you are required to do so, and kindly remember to observe the social distancing protocols when you are out.
I also urge all to continue to exercise proper personal hygiene especially washing your hands properly as often as possible.
I would like to salute the hard-working employees on the frontline especially those in the health sector and the security forces and all essential workers.
I am very confident that we will win this battle with COVID-19. Let us remain calm and focused. Together, and with God’s help we will get through this.
Let me also take this opportunity to wish all a very holy and blessed Easter.
Thank you, and may God continue to bless us all.