T&T’s CARIFESTA Readiness

On the heels of the official launch and the signing of the Host Country Agreement, the CARIFESTA XIV Host Country Management Committee (HCMC) and the CARIFESTA XIV Secretariat are moving full speed ahead with the planning of the 14th instalment of this Festival of the Arts. CARIFESTA XIV takes place from August 16th to 25th 2019 and will see the coming together of artists, cultural practitioners and businesses from throughout the region.  The theme for the 14th instalment of the festival is “The Tangible and Intangible – Connect, Share, Invest” with a strong focus on building capacity in the creative industries through business development, networking and promotional opportunities.

The HCMC and Secretariat, both chaired by Ms. Susan Shurland, Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Community Development Culture Arts (MCDCA), are working assiduously to plan and lay the foundation for a world class Arts festival in Trinidad & Tobago. The HCMC comprises creative and cultural sector advisors; Dr. Lester Efebo Wilkinson, Gillian Bishop, Rana Mohip, John Arnold, Chandra Katwaroo, Davlin Thomas, Carla Foderingham and Lorraine O’Connor. While the HCMC acts in an advisory manner, they play a critical role in providing oversight in planning in the various aspects of the Festival. The HCMC comprises sector specialists and representatives of Ministries and State Agencies including:

  • Ministry of Community Development, Culture and the Arts,
  • Ministry of Tourism,
  • Ministry of Trade and Industry,
  • Ministry of Foreign & CARICOM Affairs,
  • Ministry of Communications,
  • Ministry of Works & Transport,
  • Ministry of National Security,
  • Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs,
  • Tobago House of Assembly,
  • Airports Authority of Trinidad and Tobago,
  • Port Authority of Trinidad and Tobago.

The CARIFESTA XIV Secretariat effectively manages and coordinates ‘the nuts and bolts’ of the festival, and is the implementation arm.  The CARIFESTA XIV Secretariat’s main responsibilities are logistics, programming, financial and marketing and communication arrangements for the effective execution of the festival. The Secretariat staffing is currently just over 40 persons from varying disciplines and is led by Jaime Thomas, Artistic Coordinator; Patricia Henderson Browne, Programming Coordinator; Colin Lucas, Logistics and Operations Coordinator; and Arlene M. Holman, Marketing and Communications Coordinator.

On October 22nd, 2018, the CARICOM Interim Festival Directorate (IFD) convened in Port of Spain, to be apprised of planning and arrangements for Festival. They expressed approval of  initial plans for the opening and closing events as provided by the producers, as well as the innovative ideas presented to ensure the widest participation and inclusion of all sectors.  The Festival was officially launched on October 23rd, 2018, when its website, went live for the event.

The IFD team toured some of the sites that will be used to host the Festival in 2019, including the main hub and Grand Market at the Grand Stand, Queen’s Park Savannah and National Performance spaces including the National Academy for Performing Arts, Southern Academy for Performing Arts, Queen’s Hall, Naparima Bowl and Shaw Park, Tobago. Others performing spaces as well as eight communities across Trinidad and Tobago will also take centre stage to showcase the best talent of the region at niche and signal events.

CARIFESTA is the region’s biggest Arts Festival and at each staging the Host Country welcomes at least 30 Caribbean Countries from across the region. On November 15th, 2018 the official CARICOM Savingram was sent out to invite Member states to register for the festival and to date, four countries, Anguilla, Dominica, Jamaica and St. Vincent and the Grenadines have registered via the official website, along with a number of exhibitors, independent artistes and vendors.

To date, the festival has attracted some of the biggest names in the entertainment arena as brand ambassadors, including Machel Montano, Neval Chatelal, Nishard Mayroo, Nailah Blackman and Aaron St Louis (Voice). Discussions are also well underway to incorporate Trinidad and Tobago’s icons Leroy Clarke and Calypso Rose with many others including Sat Balkaransigh being identified for recognition and celebration.

The business community has not been left out with corporate partners and sponsors already committing their support through cash and kind to ensure the success of the 10 day event. First Citizens, NLCB and One Caribbean Media are leading sponsors with major brands Hyatt, Trinidad Hilton, Caribbean Airlines, LIAT, TTT and TTMA already confirmed as partners. The event also seeks to leverage the success of Bocas Lit Fest, TT Film Festival as part of the programming with FilmTT, MusicTT and FashionTT lending technical support for signal and niche music, fashion and film events. CARIFESTA XIV is also working with Sustain TT, SWMCOL and the EMA to inform the ‘greening’ element of the festival.

CARIFESTA celebrates the arts and the 2019 event will see over fifteen (15) festival categories and events including Literature, Poetry & Spoken Word, Film, Dance, Music, Visual Arts, Caribbean Country Nights, Workshops & Symposia, Grand Market Shopping Pavilion, Youth Village and a Super Concert in addition to   Street and Community Festivals throughout Trinidad and Tobago.  The Festival will present many opportunities for artistes, artists and businesses, locally, regionally and internationally to participate in trade market and business development spaces.

The CARIFESTA teams have been working to strategically map the journey to August 2019. The event is not only in keeping with CARICOM’s continued thrust towards integration but is in keeping with the GORTT’s National Development Strategy (Vision 2030) and consistent with the development theme of “Putting People First; Nurturing Our Greatest Asset,”. The successful hosting of a Festival of this magnitude not only promotes T&T’s profile as a dynamic and creative festival destination, it furthers Trinidad and Tobago’s Cultural and Festival Tourism agenda. Trinidad and Tobago can look forward the launch of phase two (2) of the marketing and promotion plan with the third of five CARIFESTA jingles to be released for Carnival and country wide activities to engage, excite and encourage participation. The first CARIFESTA in-flight Caribbean Airlines video, launched last Monday, will soon be followed in January by a national talent-search, as all citizens will be given a chance to audition to be a part of the premier Arts Festival of the Caribbean.

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