THE theme for Carifesta XIV was connect, share and innovate, and there was a place for all artists at the festival. That is how John Arnold, project manager for Carifesta saw the ten-day arts festival which ran from August 16-25.
“I could see some of the connection and the sharing could take place... I observed from the trade booths, there were people who made connections in a big way. For example, in the Tobago booth there was a lady doing teas, vervine, herbs that people don’t really use on a commercial level, and she was offering cinnamon and orange peel. She had them dried and they had a shelf life for six months. I found myself buying over two packs. I spoke to her and said so many people were making contact and taking cards. This was a nice area they could relate to once Carifesta was over they would like to make contact.” For Arnold, every artist had a space at Carifesta. Particularly at the Elemental Series hosted at Big Black Box, Murray Street, Woodbrook, from Saturday to Thursday.
“The rock people, the rapso people, spoken word people, everybody had a place. That was purposefully done to take away the image that Carifesta was a folk-bogie, and it was only about folk and we were able to show that in the Caribbean people are doing a diverse set of things, and because you have excellence in so many areas we were able to highlight and showcase all of it.”
Now that Carifesta is over, and the baton has been passed to Antigua and Barbuda for Carifesta 2021, the TT Carifesta team will have six months to write a post-mortem on the event to hand over to Caricom.
“What we have to do now, and that exercise is already in planning, is start the reporting, going through the areas, looking at our model and how we planned it, how we implemented it, looking at all the areas on how we control all the artistic, logistic, which involves protocol, transport, movement of persons at the airport, dangers, container issues, that is what we are going to be doing.”
The TT Carifesta team already started the reporting process during the festival, making necessary changes to plans as they came up.
Arnold said the bar was raised this Carifesta with high-quality performances and an engaging theme for the Grand Market. The Streets of the Caribbean, designed by Jamie Thomas was a Carifesta accomplishment Arnold is particularly proud of.
“Raising the level, the issue of the grand market has not changed, we came up with a concept of how the Grand Market should be – Streets of the Caribbean. Jamie Thomas conceptualised it, it was a wonderful idea. The aeroplane welcoming you and giving you an idea of where it is going, from Barbados, and where it is presently.
“I’ve been to several Carifestas: Suriname, St Kitts and Guyana, and they have all had a grand market. You can’t escape the fact that this grand market conceptually was a brand new approach. In looking at it, some whoever may have to look at do we go with a theme we have to create around the grand market, we have to lift the areas of fashions and trade and crafts and country booths.”
Arnold said personally, he wants Carifesta to market itself to an international audience.
“I think the festival has shown a maturity at this point that the international marketing of the festival would be necessary. That’s an area we had to work at on how we market it internationally, working with all the agencies that are doing marketing outside of all the destinations.”
He said now people have been calling for a similar Carifesta treatments to different events held annually at the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port of Spain.
“They are now clamouring calls for the same kind of approach for a Christmas City or a Carnival Village in the Queen’s Park Savannah. People are calling for quality in all kinds of areas....They are calling for well-produced shows and quality shows. That is what the public would like to see.”