Chairman of the Nevis Cultural Development Foundation (NCDF) Mr. Halsted “Sooty” Byron described Nevis’ participation in the recently concluded Caribbean Festival of Arts (Carifesta) X in Guyana, as one which benefited the island and its young performers.
Mr. Byron, who headed the delegation from St. Kitts and Nevis, made the comment when he spoke to the Department of Information on September 09, 2008, following their return to Nevis on September 02, 2008. Out of the 10 masqueraders who performed, Mr. Byron said five were below the age of 18 but the NCDF thought it was important to give them the exposure because too often the impact of the art form outside of Nevis was not realised.
“We thought it was important to give them the exposure so that they can see for themselves the kind of impact that the masquerades can have on people outside of Nevis. I don’t think our young people whether they are performers or not really appreciate the significance and the importance of the masquerades and other folklore.
Some of Nevis’ young masquerades performing during the island’s main cultural festival Culturama (file photo)
“When they get a chance to go away to other places and they see how people receive the masquerades, how people react to the performances, the kind of appreciation that is shown when the dances and the music are performed, the young people get a different perspective on the art form and they begin to look at it in a different light because it is something that is distinctly Nevisian,” he said and added, “I think that is the greatest benefit that any young person can get from participating in Carifesta, from learning the significance and importance of the masquerades but generally, I thought, the young people as well as the older ones got a chance to interact with other performers.
Notwithstanding, Mr. Byron noted that the performers were not the only ones to have benefited from the experience and cited that the Foundation’s management team [Manager of the Artistic and Cultural Development Sector Ms. Diane Hobson and Manager of Festivals Mr. Antonio “Abonati” Liburd] who formed part of the delegation, had gleaned much knowledge in their relevant area of expertise.
“Generally we went there with the intention of looking at the way things are organised to see if there was anything we could pick up from the organisation of the festival – stage management and the layout for activities-. These are things we have been very much concerned about with our own festival. So we paid a lot of attention to the management of the different stages that we went on – back stage and front stage management, music, sound, sound and lighting – and Abounati paid a great deal of attention to a lot of those things.
“Diane was involved in quite a number of different artistic things in fashion and dance and also stage – the way these things are portrayed on stage – we also got around to attend some symposia, different workshops, lectures and discussions, generally speaking to get some ideas as to how we can improve our own festival and our community festivals and various aspects of the arts and culture in Nevis. I think we really have gotten quite a lot from that,” he said.
Overall, Mr. Byron said Nevis would be the better off for its participation in the major Caribbean arts and culture festival. He said it would afford those in charge of culture on the island, to compare the various performances and aspects of culture and to revive old ideas and or introduce new ones.
“We have come away with quite a number if ideas of things that we could do differently, things that we could improve on the whole layout of the Grand Market area. Those are things we would want to look at in terms of what we have in mind to do for Culturama and some of our community festivals.
“We paid a great deal of attention to the Cultural Centre which is perhaps one of the best if not the best in the Caribbean, because we would be erecting our own cultural creative arts centre in Nevis, to see how it is managed and the different areas of the arts that are portrayed there. So generally I thought everybody – musicians, performers and the management team would have come away from Carifesta with a whole lot of new ideas and ways of doing things or improving on things we have been doing in Nevis,” the NCDF Chairman said.