Feature Address by Dr. the Honourable Nyan Gadsby-Dolly at Launch of CARIFESTA XIV

One race (de Caribbean man)
From de same place (de Caribbean man)
Dat make de same trip (de Caribbean man)
On de same ship (de Caribbean man)
So we must push one common intention
Is for a better life in de region
For we woman, and we children
Dat must be de ambition of de Caribbean man
De Caribbean man, de Caribbean man

Sung by Black Stalin, almost 40 years ago, this iconic piece of poetry titled “Caribbean Unity” speaks to ‘we’ as Caribbean nationals with one single Caribbean identity…it speaks to the essence of the shared “Caribbeanness” that is CARICOM. As we quote Black Stalin, let us stand and share a moment of silence together in honour of another Caribbean calypso legend – “the Shadow” who we lost today.

CARIFESTA is one of our flagship events as a region.  We have shared a common journey and continue to forge collaborations in the economic, political, technological and academic spheres.  We have had our challenges, but also many successes of which we should be proud.  The University of the West Indies, Carifta, Caribbean Broadcasting Union, CXC – Caribbean Examination Council and Our West Indies Cricket team (pause and look at audience, head tilted).

Every day our arts and culture impact the Caribbean diaspora and by extension the world. Our cultures represent a unique fusion that emanates from our historical underpinnings.

Since the 1st edition of CARIFESTA in Guyana (1972), this Caribbean showcase has emerged as a 10-day mega Caribbean Festival of Arts which we can all look forward to with great anticipation CARIFESTA embodies Caribbean integration and it gives expression to the uniqueness of our Caribbean reality. It is here that the people of the Region come together; co-mingling and creating one community and one people.

The Creative Industry, especially with the advancements in communication technology, is making a bold statement not only in the region but all over the world. It is taking on an innovative, sustainable and globally competitive paradigm shift that is moving at warp speed.

This Industry represents the intersection of our world-renowned forms of mas, theatre, film, dance, music, steelpan, craft, visual and literary arts and a host of other sectors that bear the unmistakable Caribbean stamp.

Creative entrepreneurship and how we can connect creative talent with smart business thinking, to achieve both creative and commercial success is a focal point for CARIFESTA (14) XIV. The creative industry touches many other facets of an economy, covering an array of industries contributing to socio-economic development, revenue generation, decent employment and cultural diversity. Thus, ladies and gentlemen, investing in culture is worthwhile as this creates tangible opportunities not only for artists and cultural workers, but a wide range of spin-off industries that drive economic development.  In 2008 – two million persons in creative industries contributed sixty billion a year, 7.3 percent to the British economy.

Therefore, the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago deems it an honour to host CARIFESTA 14 (XIV) for the period August 16th to 25th, 2019; And it is with great pleasure that I share with you our theme:  “The Tangible and Intangible: Connect, Share, Invest” which speaks to the importance of bridging the gap between the tangible and intangible heritage, the old and the new, the folk, indigenous and the contemporary traditions to create real opportunities for connecting, sharing and investing that will lead to the sustainability of the creative sector.

As a local artist said very recently at the launch of the T&T Film Festival – the days of the starving artist are over.  It is time to share best practices on how we can connect the intangible talent and heritage with the suitable investment to provide tangible returns that will benefit us all.

Our journey and preparation for CARIFESTA 14 (XIV) began in 2017, the moment Trinidad and Tobago received the baton from Barbados, the last Host Country. The Trinidad & Tobago delegation attended the festival, observed and learnt from our forerunner.

Since then we have been working assiduously; with Cabinet approval of the Hosting Plan in October 2017 and commissioning of the Host Country Management Committee, comprising key Ministries, State Agencies and Arts and Culture Specialists in November 2017.

In April 2018, the final Hosting Plan was approved by Cabinet and an update provided to the CARICOM (IFD) Interim Festival Directorate (some of whom are here today) on Festival preparations. The CARIFESTA XIV Secretariat was also commissioned in April and the team then began to execute the plans of the Hosting Proposal.

In June 2018, a presentation was made on Trinidad and Tobago’s readiness to the CARICOM Secretariat at the Regional Cultural Coordinators (RCC) Meeting in Guyana. And may I say, all are in agreement that we are giving our all to produce a CARIFESTA worthy of regional and international acclaim in 2019 (applause).

Between April and October 2018, there have been many milestones achieved by the hard work of the CARIFESTA Secretariat; including a national Logo and Jingle competition, both of which received overwhelming responses.  The results of some of these competitions will be shared with you later in the programme.

I take this opportunity to thank the Host Country Management Committee (HCMC) and CARIFESTA Secretariat for leading preparations thus far, and in advance for the bulk of the work which is yet to come.

From yesterday, October 22 continuing through to October 24, the CARICOM Secretariat and Interim Festival Directorate are here in Trinidad and Tobago to meet with the Host Country Management Committee and the CARIFESTA XIV Secretariat where they will visit some of the locations earmarked for festival events and discuss further plans.

CARIFESTA (14) XIV kicks off with the Opening Ceremony on August 16th and culminates in the closing ceremony on August 25th. During the 10 day period, there will be many exciting events and activities to participate in, including:

  • The Grand Market at the Queen’s Park Savannah, the Festival Hub
  • The Tobago Showcase of events
  • Country Nights, dedicated to each participating Country to showcase their unique arts and culture
  • Signal Events and Niche Events in Dance, Music, Visual Arts, Film, Theatre and Fashion – featuring some of the best regional individuals and groups in various genres.
  • Trinidad & Tobago Film Festival which features films from across the region
  • Literary Arts Festival hosted by the Bocas Lit Fest
  • Community Festivals
  • A Youth Village
  • Symposia and Workshops for practitioners in the Creative and Cultural Industries
  • Street Festivals
  • A Super Concert with some of the region’s Top Artistes

And, of course, what is a Caribbean Festival without our Food and Drinks (smile), I fondly recall the long lines for Antigua and Barbuda’s Lobsters in Barbados for CARIFESTA XII (13) and I have been told that we must make room for that and more next year! So yes, it will be a Food Feast as well (smile) – no Caribbean lime worth its salt is complete without its – shall we say – “gastronomic stimulation.”

Environmental issues are certainly a topic of concern for us in the Caribbean; the recent devastating floods in Trinidad and Tobago bring this into sharp focus for us here in Trinidad and Tobago.  We have therefore established partnerships with the Environmental Management Authority, The Solid Waste Management Company and Sustain TT to raise awareness of Greening practices during the Festival; incorporating a Green Wellness Space where one can visit for a bit of Yoga and Matcha Tea and to get tips on Living Well and saving the Environment.

This evening, with great excitement, we officially launch CARIFESTA (14) XIV, 2019, signalling to our Caribbean brothers and sisters, diaspora and indeed the world, that we are ready and anxiously awaiting you in August 2019.   For maximum participation, with a focus on family and youth positive entertainment, all CARIFESTA events – with the exception of the Super Concert – will be offered free to the public.  This festival is of all peoples, by all peoples and for all peoples.

It is reported that interest in cultural events and experiencing festivals is perceived by tourists as one of the most authentic ways of immersing themselves in local culture.

An estimated 10 million people travel internationally each year for the main purpose of watching or participating in a music or cultural festival.

CARIFESTA (14) XIV is the Caribbean’s Arts Festival and is therefore a channel to further promote festival tourism in the Caribbean.

We are therefore thrilled to announce that Machel Montano, Aaron St. Louis (Voice), Neval Chatelal, Nishard Mayrhoo and Nailah Blackman are the CARIFESTA XIV Brand Ambassadors, who will work with us to promote the Festival across the region and internationally.

In closing, Ladies and gentlemen, I encourage you to visit the CARIFESTA 14  website, www.carifesta.net which goes live tonight, as well as the CARIFESTA 14 Social Media pages, for event dates and information.

As I leave, I encourage you to mark the dates August 16th to 25th, 2019, and come one and all to CARIFESTA (14) XIV here in Trinidad and Tobago. When we meet for those 10 days let us

Come Together to Celebrate the Arts

To Celebrate our People, our Culture and the Caribbean.

Let us Connect, Share, Invest

Thank you