Members of the CARIFESTA XIII committee have been holding a series of Town Hall Meetings with local artists, artistes, performers and craft persons to inform and bring them up to speed with plans for CARIFESTA XIII to be held in Barbados from August 17 to 27, 2017.

Festival Director Andrea Wells highlighted the regional Arts showcase/sharing concept of the Festival and gave an overview of the plans for the Festival explaining that it was divided intothree tiers: the CARICOM national programme showcasing the arts of participating states, the Signal Events celebrating Pan-Caribbean professional excellence in the Arts and the Creative Fringe which is a dynamic programme lead by Barbados’ artists at the community level. She also outlined some of the places where these events will be held. Artists were advised of the opportunities available for their involvement via the Barbados National programme and some events such as the Opening or Closing Ceremony. They were alsoencouraged to share their skills with regional counterparts via workshops, showcases and demonstrations that will all feature as part of the Creative Fringe.

On Tuesday April 18th April, performing artistes were given details about the programme for the Festival as well as spaces for performances. They discussed components of the Barbados national programme for CARIFESTA, how an artist can become a member of a delegation, accreditation, traditional and non-traditional venues and working with the schools to stimulate interest in the Festival among the youth.

On Wednesday when the Visual Artists gathered, John Hunte, Artistic Director for the Festival outlined plans for the Barbados Visual Arts programme like the Mural Projects and the EnPlein Air sessions while Cultural Officer for Visual Arts Rodney Ifill and Exhibition Curator Janice Whittle outlined what the artists could expect for this year and shared experiences from past CARIFESTAs. Ms. Whittle explained that the Masters Exhibition allows for experienced regional artists to display their work and share experiences with younger artists.

She further explained that there are plans for a curated CARICOM National Exhibition themed ‘The Journey’ with pieces to be displayed by various artists from around the Caribbean.A call will be made by the NCF to Barbadians inviting them to submit work for consideration for the exhibitions.

A photography billboard project where large prints and expressions of Barbadian and regional artists, some as big as 6ft x 6ft, is also on the cards. A location is still to be determined for this project.

Other visual arts projects that will be undertaken during the 10 day festival include, but are not limited to, children’s visual arts activities and the painting of murals at the port.

News of the reinstatement of the Queen’s Park Gallery, with the restoration of the historic Queen’s Park House, was applauded by the artists and is a much anticipated location for the return of fine art and craft and one of the major exhibitions will be held there. The performing artistes were also pleased to hear that the Daphne Joseph Hackett Theatre upstairs will be the venue the Barbados National Theatre production to be showcased for the Festival.

On Thursday, it was the turn of the Literary Artistes when Ayesha Gibson-Gill – Literary Arts Officer at the National Cultural Foundation outlined plans for the literary arts programme as well as the Literary Arts Signal Event that is due to take place on August 22. She encouraged the written and spoken word artistes to get involved in the Bajan Book Booth and Stage and to put their books up for sale in the bookshop at the Grand Market at LESC. She also explained that the latest NIFCA Anthology will be launched at CARIFESTA XIII.

Director of the Cultural Industries Development Agency (CIDA), Andrea King gave the artistes some insight into the Grand Market and Buyers’ Shopping Mall, encouraging them to purchase booths where they can display and expose their art and creativity to the region as well as the international buyers who are being invited from Canada, the US,Colombia and elsewhere.

Over the three day period, over 100 visual, performing and literary artistes came together to ask questions and share experiences as they prepare for the 10 day cultural extravaganza.