SLJAF…Beyond TheNews Soundbite.
THE year 2013 proved to be pivotal for the development agenda of Saint Lucian arts and culture on two fronts. In that year, the Cultural Development Foundation (CDF) underwent a complete restructuring which produced a clear roadmap to achieve its mandate as Saint Lucia’s cultural preservation champion and development change agent. Also in that year, the Saint Lucia Tourist Board (SLTB) conducted an audit of the Saint Lucia Jazz Festival experience and brand, the result of which was a redesign of the festival product to include arts and culture.
The prior consolidation of the ministerial portfolios of Tourism and Creative Industries had already created the ideal institutional framework to drive the vision behind the festival rebranding. Viewed holistically, this ministerial configuration has proven itself tailor-made for bringing about a sustained alignment between Saint Lucia’s mainstream touristic offerings and its authentic cultural aspects in and out of the festival season. This has paved the way for an active partnership between the SLTB and the CDF that would allow the CDF to exploit the synergies that can broaden the market network of the creative sector and contribute to an improvement in the packaging of our cultural and creative products.
According to Minister for Tourism, Heritage and Creative Industries Lorne Theophilus, the SLJAF brought a world class platform to the doorstep of local and emerging cultural and creative producers. He noted that in the last two decades, local artists and artisans were consistently producing quality products in the form of literature, music, film, new media, theatre and visual arts.
“With the SLTB assuming full design and technical oversight of the Festival in 2013 all our stars were in alignment to fully focus on developing under-tapped economic sectors that were ready to take off by exploiting the opportunities the Festival offered for exposure”, he expounded.
CDF’s Executive Director Melchior Henry reports that the growing partnership with the SLTB has allowed the agency to move swiftly into developing and executing activities that fulfil its mandate as the facilitation agency linking and aligning the aims and aspirations of cultural and creative stakeholder communities and the government.
Over the last three years, the SLTB and the CDF collaboration have achieved four major projects which directly deliver on CDF’s overarching mandate and immediate short term targets relative to training, documentation, and publication of the Saint Lucian story through edutainment.
In 2014, the SLTB provided sponsorship for the inclusion of Saint Lucia in the Shakespeare Globe Theatre’s “Hamlet” world tour. Saint Lucia was the forty-fourth stop in the two-year tour of two hundred and five nations where “Hamlet” was staged.
In 2015, the inaugural Cultural Icon Series celebrating the contributions of Saint Lucia’s pioneers in the arts was included as an official event on the festival calendar. In the inaugural year, the Icon Series honoured. Charles Cadet, author and composer for all the musicals of playwright Roderick Walcott. In 2016, the second edition of the Cultural Icon Series honours dance pioneer Virginia Alexander.
Last year also saw the introduction of a Fine Arts Exhibition featuring the work of five of Saint Lucia’s prominent artists, and the Artists’ Market, a street fair offering the widest selection of locally made creative goods in a festive atmosphere.
In 2015 the SLTB also undertook crucial retrofitting of the National Cultural Centre (NCC) to raise the standard of the venue, making it better suited to host smaller Jazz shows during the Festival. The significantly enhanced aesthetics and improved facilities have generated increased attendance, thus enabling the CDF to attract more patronage of the venue.