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May 28, 1999

G. Michael Reid on Festival of Arts

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Tonight G. Michael Reid gives credit where credit is due: to the little ones, their parents and teachers and the staff of the Belize Arts Council who have all given our community something precious over this past month.

“Every year about this time, and for approximately one month, the Children’s Festival of Arts takes center stage and the Bliss Institute becomes a garden of embryonic artistry. On Wednesday last, I got wind that a certain future virtuoso would be rendering a performance so I got all “dused” up and jostled for a seat near the front.

Alas, it turned out that the presentation by my son’s troupe landed them but a silver, but then again, what do those judges know? If you asked me, the performance was nothing short of platinum but then, that would have presented a major problem. What to award the stellar performance by young Olivet Pech, a student from St. Luke’s Methodist School, who brought down the house with her portrayal of, “Dis Da Me”. Set to a background of Mr. Peters Boom and Chime music and with Olivet’s indistinct Belizean garb, “Dis Da Me” was brazenly Creole and left at least one “kruffy” parent in the audience feeling a renewed sense of appreciation for his culture.

It was then, however, that we were confronted with another aspect of our reality, as a young student of Chinese descent, took front stage to delivered a stirring poetic plea to the Belizean robbers who take up arms against his people. “Chinese worker only ride bike with plenty grocery,” said Curie Cheng, “but Belizean robber kill him” and we agree, it is a sin. Maybe one day, just as our children now perform in harmony on the stage at the Bliss, we will all perform in harmony on the bigger stage of Belize and on the even broader stage of universal brotherhood.

Grace Primary as usual, was once again impressive this year, with an infant troupe doing choral speaking and sounding very much like a well-balanced multi stereo-ed unit. A repertory from S.J.C. then loaned contemporary logic to the argument for curfew and exposed the need for a separate festival for our secondary schools. It would indeed be tragic, if these virtual artists in the bud, are not allowed the room to blossom into full bloom.

And speaking of curfew, one cannot be certain that it is the reason, but there seems a notable increase in the number of parents attending the festival this year. Sad to say, however, that there are still too many parents who can’t seem to find the time and many who still just drop their children off and pick them up when it’s all over. It is interesting to watch as the insecure eyes of the little performers scan the auditorium and find comfort and courage when they find the assuring presence of mom or dad in the audience. Hats off to the many parents who do take the time to attend and rest assured that this small effort on your part, plays a major role in the development of a more stable and secure individual.

As I sat the other night and enjoyed one creative performance after the other, I was especially impressed with the few number of mistakes. Enough cannot be made of the tireless effort that was obviously put forth by the teachers in preparing these children for their performances. It must be no small task, considering the short attention spans and the normal hare-brained chattering of our energetic young and restless. Hats off also to Ms. Bev and her colleagues at the Belize Arts Council, who have resurrected this phoenix from its ashes and who continue in their tireless effort to keep the tradition of the Festival of Arts alive. Even if none of these children go on to become the next Shakespeare, Picasso or Frankie Reneau, the Children’s Festival of Arts goes a long way toward building self-esteem and in fostering essential communication skills. No longer can we afford to ignore the fact, that art is imperative to our growth.

This year’s presentations of our Children’s Festival of Arts of course, was greatly enhanced by the donation of a million dollars worth of lights and technical assistance that arrived courtesy the Japanese government last November. On behalf of the many Belizeans who have benefited, many thanks. There still exists, however, a dire need for a stage curtain and some much needed renovations at the Bliss. Of course, page 18 of our ruling party’s manifesto promises to, and I quote, “establish a Contemporary Arts Center with the Bliss Institute as its nucleus, and with modern facilities for theater, music, dance and other fine arts.” Let us hope that we do not have too much longer to wait for the fulfillment of this promise.

With the Last Word, G. Michael Reid.”

The opinions expressed on the Last Word are those of G. Michael Reid and not necessarily those of Channel Five. Comments are welcome.

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