Culture in the Caribbean region is rich and diverse.  I am constantly blown away by the talent and creativity which emerges from the region. In many ways culture and the creative industries still do not get the level of support they need but forward strides are being made every year.

I remember attending CARIFESTA in 2006. It was an amazing experience – amazing culture, heritage and talent were on display. Thirteen years later I can only imagine how much this Festival has grown. Anguilla continues to take a contingent each year, a sample of the rich culture and talent on our little island. I would love to go back as a blogger!

I must find a better picture somewhere!

I was looking through my files and I came across this photo taken in 2006 of some of the talented young people who went to Carifesta that year. If you look closely you will notice that there are three Anguilla Summer Festival Queens in the photo including the reigning Miss Universe Great Britain Dee-Ann Kentish-Rogers, the reigning Miss Anguilla – Mikeela Skellekie and former Queen Mrs. Shellya Webster nee Rogers. They all continue to contribute to culture in Anguilla in their own way.

Part of the Contingent for CARIFESTA 2006

The Department of Youth and Culture continues to play an active role in the preservation and promotion of culture. Just last week Mr. Bren Romney, Director of Youth and Culture attended the 27th Meeting of the Regional Culture Committee (RCC). Mr. Romney holds a seat on the RCC since assuming his current role at the Department of Youth and Culture on 03 November 2013. The meeting was held at the Hilton Hotel in Port of Spain, Trinidad in Trinidad and Tobago from March 27th-29th, 2019.

Mr. Bren Romney, Director of Youth and Culture

CARIFESTA XIV – 16th-25th, 2019

Among other issues, high on the agenda for discussion was CARIFESTA XIV (Caribbean Festival of Arts) which will be held in Trinidad from August 16th –25th 2019.  It was pointed out that the presence of Directors of Youth and Culture from at least 13-member and associate states and representatives for key partners provided a unique opportunity for in depth conversation between Trinidad and Tobago, the host, and participating countries on various aspects of what is expected to be an exciting diverse CARIFESTA XIV programme. The RCC meeting provided the ideal opportunity to discuss the very complex, logistical arrangements required for such a mega festival and to look at the artistic concepts which shape the event. It provides support to the host country management team to ensure CARIFESTA XIV is both successful and memorable. 

The host country gave a comprehensive update on progress of CARIFESTA XIV which showed they were well on their way with marketing and promoting CARIFESTA XIV and developing a conceptual map and logistical arrangements for the festival. It was revealed that Trinidad was implementing a new strategy not previously used for the festival by involving major artists like Machel Montana and Nailah Blackman as brand ambassadors for CARIFESTA XIV. The host country was commended for negotiating an excellent line up for the super concert well ahead of the festival.

The meeting also provided an excellent opportunity for culture directors to visit venues and hotels in planning for their contingents for CARIFESTA XIV.

A Regional Strategy for the Development of Cultural Industries.

Creative Industry Development is another area which is very important to member states. The draft regional development strategy for the cultural industries in CARICOM which was developed in 2012 and the cultural and entertainment services strategy which was completed in 2017 was reviewed and discussed by the RCC with a focus on the priority actions to be implemented by member states.

The Creative Industries Innovation Fund (CIIF) by the Caribbean Development Bank was launched in December of 2018 to support creative industry development in the region. Updates on this new initiative were given during the meeting.

During the meeting, the RCC also looked at strategies to increase the resources of CIIF and to finance cultural development in the region in general.

A Moment of Silence for Mighty Shadow and Ken “Professor” Philmore

The RCC paid respect to the Mighty Shadow who passed away on October 23 (day of launch of CARIFESTA XIV) and Professor Philmore, Pan Maestro who died on 30th of September. They were recognized for their sterling contribution to advancing culture in the region, in the international region and celebrate their tremendous lives, their legacy, creativity and the songs we continue to enjoy.

About the RCC

The Regional Cultural Committee (RCC), the CARICOM network of Directors of Culture, has established itself over the past 28 years as a valuable regional forum where Directors of Culture meet, deliberate and propose harmonized or coordinated approaches to cultural development initiatives in the context of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy. The RCC continues to champion cultural development as an integral and essential component of the regional strategy to reduce poverty and achieve equitable and sustainable development in keeping with the 2030 sustainable development agenda.

Looking Forward

With committees and initiatives such as these things look positive for culture in the region. To all our creative and talented friends out there, continue to hone your talent and skills and share them boldly and bravely with the world.

For more about the RCC and CARIFESTA XIV contact the Department of Youth and Culture.

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