Carifesta 11 Organizers Raise the Bar

THE HAGUE, Netherlands–Carifesta 11, slated for August 16 to 26 2013 in Suriname, is rapidly starting to take shape, and its organizers say they are raising the bar. “This is the premier culture and arts festival of the Caribbean and what we’re planning here is an event that will put Suriname, Caricom and Unasur on the worldmap. That is why we’re striving for the highest possible quality in whatever we put out. We cannot afford to issue the slightest element that is not up to par,” said Management Team Chairman Ivan Graanoogst on Saturday, at the presentation in The Hague of Carifesta’s new logo and website.

The new logo, a colorful design that brings together images of the region’s first inhabitants, Suriname’s Apinti drum and the colors of the Caribbean intertwined with those of the Union of South American States (Unasur), was produced by veteran designer Henna Brunings. The website, which blends pictures of Suriname with information of Carifesta and promises of what to expect in August 2013, was produced by Karel Donk. They were well received at their unveiling in Suriname on Saturday October 27th. To Graanoogst they stood as the ideal models of the quality standards aimed for.

Carifesta 11 brings the region’s roving festival back to Suriname for the second time, under the theme “Culture for Development”, suggestive of the intention to not only be a platform for the region’s artisans to show off their talent, but also enable them to turn their trade into business. “In this day in age, it is hardly necessary anymore to travel for business, but the travel and tourism industries are soaring nonetheless. That’s because culture has potential to create business. Carifesta is supposed to create those opportunities,” said Graanoogst.

The event was first held in 1972 in Georgetown, Guyana, and has since been held 10 times, each time turning a different nation into the region’s heartbeat.  Suriname first hosted it in 2003. This time around the festival will be centered in the wooden inner city of Paramaribo. Intentions are to make the capital a Festival City that week, so that from the Independence Square and the Presidential Palace, down to the heart of town, people feel that Carifesta is in town. In addition the event will be taken to all corners of the country, with Carifesta stages in remote villages.

Graanoogst said the Interim Festival Directorate (IFD), the regional advisory body to CARICOM, has already approved much of the plans. “They’re very adamant that certain quality standards are met and we’re adamant that the people from the Caribbean know that we’re following those guidelines. Participating countries are expected to bring their best of the best; and they should know that they’re not coming on holiday, but to represent they’re countries. That way, when people visit Carifesta 11, they can expect a professional staging of the region’s most important cultural festival,” Graanoogst said.

The new model according to which it will be held this time around, is also very much geared toward inclusion and creating legacy. The countries of Unasur have been invited, and Venezuela, Brazil and French Guiana have already come knocking. “We’ve also had expressions of interest from Indonesia and China. In 2013 we’re celebrating the anniversaries of their people’s migrations to Suriname, and we’re marking 150 years abolition of slavery in our country. We have a lot that we’re pouring into Carifesta,” Graanoogst said. He said that by February it should be clear which countries exactly are taking part and how many people they’re bringing.

The region’s Diasporas are also being involved. The event will bring more than 2,000 people to Suriname, from more than 40 countries. Each participating country will bring up to 50 people, ranging from painters and sculptors to theatrical artists, musicians, dancers and arts and craftsmen. As Suriname is host country, there are no limitations to the size of its contingent; the Management Team has made efforts to emphasize the opportunities for the diaspora.

Graanoogst, in the Netherlands to officiate the installation of Carifesta Netherlands Boards, said the support from the Surinamers here is crucial. “Half of our people live here in The Netherlands. You’re at quite a distance from home yes, but distance is not a restriction anymore for people to be involved and render support,” he said.

The Carifesta chairman assured them that the event’s hosting is free from political influence. “In Suriname we have quite some experience from people who have been involved in previous Carifesta, albeit from various political backgrounds. But this is one matter in which politics has no bearing. Everybody has the same goal: to make it a resounding success,” he said.

Source: CARICOM News

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