Photo Credit: Clifton Skelton/BVI Platinum News
Minister for Education and Culture, Hon. Myron Walwyn has shifted the responsibility for the organization and execution of the August Festival to the Department of Culture.
Minister Walwyn was asked if the decision was a no-brainer, but he said that he cannot comment on that question. He explained that what obtained previously was the heavy involvement of the Ministry of Education in the organization of the annual event.
"The Ministry had a very strong hand in the running of festival from what I have seen. I wouldn't say whether it worked or didn't worked, but what I would say is that we have a very able Department of Culture; festival is a cultural activity and I think this is where it properly belongs," Minister Walwyn stated.
Acting Director of Culture, Brenda Lettsome-Tye has been tasked with overseeing the Virgin Islands Festivals and Fairs Committee and is also keen on having cultural activities featured prominently during the celebrations.
"It is imperative that we remember the historical significance of why we celebrate festival in the first place. Our forefathers took to the streets to celebrate their freedom and we must remember, with pride and reverence, the foundation of our festival celebrations," Lettsome-Tye stated.
One such activity highlighted was the lunch time sessions which will be held at the Festival Grounds.
"At the village, we will have cultural exhibitions in music, song, dance and storytelling during the lunch hours so that patrons who purchase lunch at the village will be treated to a full dose of our cultural performing arts" Lettsome-Tye shared.
The lunch time entertainment will be held from July 30 to August 31 between 11:00 am and 2:00 pm and will feature plait pole demonstrations and performances by the Razor Blades, the Junior and Senior Heritage Dancers and 4 Strong. It will also feature story-telling by Ms. Eileene L. Parsons, a peas and rice competition and entertainment by Leon and the Hot Shots and the Rising Stars Steel Orchestra.
The Acting Director of Culture is also responsible for overseeing the financial aspects of the festival. She has stated that Government is providing the VI Festivals and Fairs Committee with $560,400 to cover all festivals and fairs in the Territory, including Virgin Gorda.
The Acting Director also revealed that Virgin Gorda received an additional $40,000, which means that they received a total of $100,000 to host their Easter Festival this year.
However, Lettsome-Tye explained that the East End/Long Look and Carrot Bay sub-committees will receive their customary $60,000 this year.
Lettsome-Tye said that she could not give an estimated cost for this year's festival, pointing out that they are still receiving monies through sponsorship. However, she said that the committee understands the budgetary constraints that Government is undergoing.
She stated that one of the mandates this year is to determine the true cost of festival so that the committee can in turn advise the Minister of Education and Culture and Government about an accurate ballpark figure of what festival really costs.
Festival celebrations will begin with the Prince and Princess Show at the Multipurpose Sports Complex on July 15 and end on August 11 with the festival last lap in Carrot Bay.
The Festival Village in Road Town, which is named in honour of Claudette 'Boopie' Smith, opens on July 26 with a Gospel Fest.
Festival this year is being held under the theme, 'Bringing back our cultural past; let's celebrate BVI Festival with class'. The slogan this year is 'Emancipation: A golden story to tell, enjoy VI Festival 2012'.