NEW Fire Festival founder Gerry Anthony said the festival is unlike anything offered in the Caribbean and is said to have resulted in patrons leaving the event feeling renewed while experiencing a new way of seeing the world around them. This he said is the intention behind the one-of-a-kind festival in the Caribbean.
The weekend-long event, which is tied to an ethos of promoting living with intention – consciously seeking to protect mind, body, spirit and the ecosystem, will take place in St Joseph.
“It evolved out of something that unfolded naturally from being the new fire concert series. In January 2014, we started the concert series which was about putting local artists who were not mainstream, in a mini-concert at the old mas camp pub.”
Festival director Elize Rostant said the venue for the series had great meaning. She said the former home of Peter Minshall’s mas camp meant it had profound meaning for the creative industry in TT. “For over two decades there were stalwarts of music, Carnival and art in the space. So we were elated to start the series there, because of the legacy of the space.”
Anthony said the series was organised with the intention of setting new fire to the old camp, using music as a medium for promoting and sharing messages of social change. He said coming from a community of underground musicians, there were always messages of empowerment, but it was not given the same platform as other local feel-good genres – thus lessening the reach and impact.
“The series was therefore created to help develop the underground music community by getting their work out there, while sharing empowering messages to the people.”
In response to a lack of understanding for the significance of the space occupied by the events, coupled with not seeing the growth anticipated, the team went back to the drawing board to create something still aligned with their intentions, but more attractive for the people of TT.
“TT is a place that loves hype and big events, so we decided, let’s do a festival.” In conceptualising the festival, Anthony said they had to involve progressive movements. These, he said, included ecology and ecological sustainability, mindfulness – caring for mind, body and spirit.
Rostant said, “The festival really is a festival of festivals. People try to wrap their heads around what it is. Because we are trying to inspire people by hitting them with important questions, we had to package it in an attractive way.”
She said the central pillar of zero-waste, lessening negative impacts on the environment during the whole weekend, over-night camping to fuel engagement and promoting the importance of community. This promotion of community extends to the community in which the event is held, where residents of Acono benefit by being part of the patronage, as well as being part of the event management team. The team which is completely made up of volunteers also incorporates young professionals seeking practical experience in events planning, art and design, and marine biology, working in collaboration with established professionals.
The event also includes an artisans market, and a variety of workshops including yoga, mindfulness, meditation and healing of the body through food.
Rostant said for 2019, there will be a green business expo, which focuses on small and medium enterprises which offer green/ eco-friendly products. “We see this as an amazing opportunity for business cross-pollination of business engagements, and for consumers who are seeking products that are in line with their attitudes toward preserving the environment. The event will also see a broadening of the facilities in place for children, which will include the introduction of farming, wildlife rehabilitation by the team from Asa Wright Nature Centre, honey farmers and other out-of-the-box local endeavours all coming together at one empowering event.
Anthony defines New Fire Festival as a transformational event, which he said is “geared toward moving from where we are, to where we can be, by immersing the attendees in an experience.”
The fourth year of the festival, which is an initiative of the non-profit organisation, TT Bridge Initiative had the official launch on December 1 at Green Yard, St Vincent Street, Port of Spain.
New Fire Festival 2019 is slated for April 12 to 14 at Ortinola Estate, St Joseph. Anthony said patrons can look forward to a weekend of live and recorded music, art, yoga, education, great food and fun by the river, while creating bonds that last a lifetime.