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Aug 28, 2000

Contingent returns from CARIFESTA

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It received a little scare from Hurricane Debby, but the latest edition of the regional cultural extravaganza known as CARIFESTA rebounded strongly for participants and spectators alike. Today I went out to the airport to meet Belize’s returning artists.

Jacqueline Woods, Reporting

Members of the Belizean contingent to CARIFESTA VII in St. Kitts and Nevis say the two-week event was a great experience, but it’s good to be back home.

Beverly Smith Lopez, Director, National Arts Council

“We had quite a revelry. We stayed in the CARIFESTA Village, which was fantastic, where all the people lived together, all the artists, so there was forever drumming and dancing and rehearsals and music, then we had quite a lot of performances. Things went well, we got to meet other groups, they was indigenous focus.”

Beverly Smith Lopez, Director of the National Arts Council says Belize’s booth at the book fair was well attended and the literary works of Belizean writers attracted a great number of people.

Beverly Smith Lopez

“We can’t forget that we had a very popular booth at the literary arts section. I must tell you that Zee Edgell is perhaps one of the most demanded writers. If we have taken hundreds of books on Beka Lamb, we would have sold them.”

But it was not only Belizean literature that was popular at the festival. Punta Rock and Mayan harp music were also well received as were our arts and crafts.

Gilvano Swasey, Artist, Image Factory

“Basically the whole combination of all the Caribbean culture, the people, the food, the music, that’s what CARIFESTA was all about. The main part was the people, the interaction, getting connections, working, celebrating and participating in all the different cultures.”

Jacqueline Woods

“I understand that the people over there were very impressed with the Belizean art that you all had on display.

Gilvano Swasey

“Yes. They like what we had because we took a cross section of different artists, meaning age and style. Also, there was a well-documented catalogue that not only told about Belize, but about the artists, and there were images. We had launched a website and everything, so they were really impressed, not only with the arts, but with the way it was organized.”

Andy Palacio, Musician

“I will remember Super Concert. I think that was the most memorable experience, especially the calibre of artists that was selected. Meeting Bonny Wailer, sharing a moment with him and the response of the audience. I can still hear it.”

Jacqueline Woods

“I understand that you basically put Punta Rock on the map over there, tell me about that.”

Andy Palacio

“I think the Kittitians as well as the delegations from the other CARICOM countries, will continue to remember us. I think we succeeded in introducing Punta Rock as a cousin to other Caribbean styles of music, while at the same time, displaying that there are certain things that we do differently.”

Emelda Usher, Manager, National Handicraft Centre

“First of all the trip was exciting because we had to be totally in charge of one of the arts and crafts booth. Usually for doing sales, we had to be there for late hours. But I must say that we had a good response from all the people. They’re looking forward for us to be at the other CARIFESTA.”

Jacqueline Woods

“And what about you, did the people over there enjoy the Maya music?”

Eduardo Cus, Member, Mayan Harp Ensemble

“Well, they were very responsive. We performed at the Grand Market, and I am very proud that we had the privilege to showcase or rather to introduce our indigenous music.”

Roy Cayetano, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Rural Development and Culture says because Belize was well received he believes there is a market out there for the works of Belizean artists and says this avenue should be explored

Roy Cayetano, P.S., Ministry of Rural Development/Culture

“I’m sure there is a market. I think what people in the region need is exposure and that is what CARIFESTA has done.”

Carifesta Eight will be held next year in Suriname. Palacio says he has been invited to perform at that event as well as a concert in St. Lucia.

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