Cayman in Carifesta X

| 27/08/2008

(CNCF): Carifesta X delegates are enjoying the experience of sharing their culture with others from around the Caribbean and beyond. The diversity of host country Guyana is another aspect of this experience that many are enjoying for the first time. The Cayman delegation is no exception having presented their contributions to the arts festival in the capital Georgetown and travelled to the town of New Amsterdam for a theatre performance.

Cayman is leaving its mark on Carifesta X in theatre, visual arts, and symposia and at the Grand Market and Trade Fair. The festival has not been without its share of problems especially with organizing the multitude of events and delegations. Caribbean leaders came under fire at one symposium from respected and outspoken writer Dereck Walcott regarding support of artists after Carifesta.

The Cayman group was among the smaller delegations attending the opening ceremonies at the 16,000 seat National Stadium; nevertheless with the Cayman flag flying high the group still drew a fair amount of attention from those attending the ceremony. This was especially true as Cayman representatives enthusiastically took part in spontaneous jump up sessions with drummers from Barbados and Suriname. Cayman’s contingent was lead by CNCF Artistic Director Henry Muttoo and CNCF Chairman Martyn Bould.

This is a homecoming for Carifesta as the first Carifesta was hosted by Guyana 36 years ago. A number of Caribbean leaders were in attendance at the opening ceremonies. After a show depicting the multicultural heritage of Guyana the opening ceremonies climaxed with fireworks and all participants jumping up carnival style on the field of the stadium.

Some members of Cayman’s contingent had the opportunity to see parts of Guyana outside of Georgetown. Delegates travelled to the town of New Amsterdam for the performance of “One White One Black”. Most had the first time experience of driving a vehicle on to a ferry in order to cross the Berbice River. In New Amsterdam Fritz McPherson and Quincy Brown performed in the town hall to a small but very appreciative audience. The Frank McField play ran a further two nights at the Theatre Guild in Georgetown. The organizational problems of Carifesta X affected the schedule of the play. “One White One Black” was scheduled at the Theatre Guild for August 25 and 26. However, on August 25 it was discovered that the Theatre Guild had been double booked. The result was that “One White One Black” was rescheduled for August 26 and 27. Henry Muttoo said he was happy to be able to be able to bring a Caymanian play to Carifesta. He said he was proud to showcase the writing and acting talent that Cayman has to offer.

Cayman received excellent press in the Stabroek News newspaper when it was among the few booths that were ready for the opening of the Grand Market and Trade Fair at the Sophia Exhibition Centre. Virginia Foster received a positive review for her telling of Anancy Stories at the Cayman booth. The booth display consists of photos that depict Cayman, such as a traditional home, a Caymanian sailing vessel the Kirk B, the National Bird, Pirates Week and an aerial view of down town George Town. A large backdrop of Seven-Mile Beach was used by many to take photographs. Literary work representative of Cayman is also on display. Paula Scott and Stan Ebanks of Swanky provided percussion entertainment at the booth.

Visitors to Cayman’s booth were often curious about Cayman. Some didn’t know Cayman’s location and many inquired about visiting Cayman. One very import visitor to the Cayman both was the President of Guyana. President Bharrat Jagdeo visited the Grand Market on Monday and stopped by Cayman’s booth. He chatted briefly with Charles Glidden, Virginia Foster and Stan Ebanks. The President said he hoped to visit Cayman in the near future.

Cayman’s visual arts community is well represented at Carifesta X. Natalie Coleman, Deputy Director of the Cayman Islands National Museum, said that the Carifesta X Visual Arts Exhibition has shown that Cayman’s artists can hold their own with artists from around the region as their work is on par with other Caribbean artists. Coleman said there has been a lot of interest in Cayman’s exhibit from artists and curators. She said the Carifesta Exhibition has provided “an excellent opportunity to network with colleagues from around the region with the hope of facilitating future exhibitions and collaboration.”

Henry Muttoo and Natalie Coleman also represented Cayman on two symposia. Muttoo gave a presentation in the symposium “Walk With Me, Talk With Me: Journeys of the Caribbean Imagination”. Dave Martins also participated in that discussion. Colman participated in a symposium titled “Mekkin Change: Art & Artists in the Caribbean”. The Grand Opening Symposium received a lot of media attention due to comments from Nobel Prize Laureate Dereck Walcott.

Walcott blamed regional leaders for the slow pace of cultural and artistic development in the Caribbean. He said that while the Caribbean was celebrating its arts at Carifesta, Caribbean artists were deprived of the means of developing their art. He asked what happens to the artists after Carifesta? The esteemed writer called for more scholarships for the arts.

Carifesta X closes on August 31 and the Cayman contingent returns home that afternoon.

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