‘Summer Of The Arts’ Nears End

He's really good at this.
He's really good at this.
He’s really good at this.

FOR the Cultural Development Foundation (CDF), the months of July and August are ideal for creating summer bucket lists: a time to explore and learn; to be creative; to accomplish and engage in fun-filled experiences with far-reaching and lifelong benefits.

Summer of the Arts (SOTA) is a collectionofactivitiesreachingadiversecross-sectionofSaintLuciansthrough training,discussionandexposéintheartsand culturalsector.

The programmes took place at various locations around the island, reaching artists both seasoned and hopefuls. They included training exercises in Pan Music Theory, Pan Tuning, a Summer Dance Workshop, the Youth Summer Arts Platform and an Emancipation Art Exhibition, among others.

Following five weeks of intensive training and rehearsals, CDF’s Summer Dance workshop culminated with the performance of an engaging new contemporary dance work, “Freedom to Dance”. Choreographed by local artists CharmaPhilgence, Skyla James and Casandra Justin; “Freedom to Dance” was performed by young dancers from Vieux Fort and environs.

“Freedom to Dance” encompassed the idea of slavery and emancipation. Confronting these issues, the dancers sought to answer the questions: How do we deal with this subject matter through dance? How can we survive? Do we struggle or surrender?

Calypso chorus
Calypso chorus

Commenting on this year’s project, Mrs. Barbara DuBoulay, Senior Officer, for Training Promotion and Development of the CDF, says: “The CDF’s Summer Dance Workshop is a continuation of work done in the communities of Laborie and Castries during the Easter break earlier this year. It provides an opportunity for the youth in the communities of Vieux Fort and environs to connect with the professional dance community here…this summer dance workshop provided a great opportunity for the young dancers, giving them the drive, energy and initiative to succeed and for the audience to witness some of our emerging talent.”

On Wednesday August 19, participants of the Youth Summer Arts Platform staged, as their grand finale a production “Behind the Masq’”. The play takes onlookers on a journey through the forest where devious plotting and secret scheming among the creatures threatens the peace and harmony enjoyed in the kingdom and ultimately the survival of the age-old tradition of masquerade throughout the region.

One hundred and eighteen participants from Anse la Raye and Castries during the period July 22 and August 18 were provided with the opportunity to develop skills in the visual and performing arts in the main training areas of Public Speaking, Dance, Music, Theatre Arts, Stage Design, Creative Writing, Costume and Theatre Makeup, Art (Graphic Design), Drumming, Film and Animation and Photography.

“What you see here today is entirely the work of the participants of this workshop, with a guidance from the facilitators”, said Celeste Burton, Director of Training, Promotion and Development. Samples of the enthusiastic participants remained on display in the Conference Room of the CDF to the delight of beaming parents for two days after the grande finale.

Thirty-Six youth were last Friday, awarded for completion of training in Music Theory (25 youth) and Pan Tuning (11 youth) at CDF’s Conference Room. The focus of this year’s programme was the development of the technical competency of the participants and building capacity in steel band among the youth with special potential in this particular area.

The late photographer Francis Tobias
The late photographer Francis Tobias

Youth from Laborie, Vieux Fort and Castries participated in training, during which they learnt practical skills and music theory. “The participants that focused on music theory learnt the principles of music and thus were able to internalize the structure and essence of songs,” says facilitator Gregory Piper. “Although comprehensive and focused, the course is a fun and easy way to master music fundamentals. It is designed as a workshop, using three senses of visual, auditory, and kinesthetic (physical) learning”.

CDF’s inaugural pan tuning workshop provided training in the requisite knowledge and skills for the selection of drums, sinking, marking and grooving the notes for a steelpan. Over ten youth from various steelpan groups registered for this workshop and are expected to complete the full spectrum of this programme when the intermediate and advanced levels are offered. The Pan Tuning Workshop was facilitated by Mr. Gabriel Robley of Trinidad who very succinctly remarked, “We need continuance in this pan thing. It took me a year to learn how to hold the hammer…and here we had only two weeks.”

The Music Theory workshops were held during the period July 27– August 20, inLaborie and Castries, whilst the pan tuning workshop was held between August 10-21, at the Courts Babonneau Pan Yard in Grande Riviere.

The celebration of Emancipation will always remain relevant to the CDF and its activities as emancipation in a very broad sense speaks to Saint Lucian history, explains aspects of our culture and establishes a foundation for our future, as a people. It was against this background that an art exhibition, one of the activities to mark the observance of this significant occasion, was aptly chosen as “Beyond Emancipation”.

The exhibition which runs until September 5, on the second floor of Blue Coral Mall in Castries, highlights the role which the arts can play in captivating the attention and thoughts of the masses. The work of three remarkable artists are on show in what has been described as “a phenomenal display of artistic genius”: Francis “PhoTobias” Tobias, who chronicled Saint Lucia’s social and political history, capturing decades of history and recorded through photographs; John Phulchere, used and interpreted politics and social issues brilliantly through cariacature; and Ted Sandiford uses contemporary art through new media to speak on social issues.

Through Summer of the Arts, a genuine contribution is made to strengthening the cultural and performing arts industries in Saint Lucia: The skills learnt and experience gained will not only enable the participants to become skilled practitioners, but also advocates of Arts and Culture as drivers of self and community development.

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