DURING Monday’s weekly pre-cabinet press briefing, members of the press were provided with an update on the progress of plans for this year’s Saint Lucia Carnival.
Saint Lucia’s Carnival which is now managed and executed by the Events Company of Saint Lucia, with the assistance of the Cultural Development Foundation (CDF), was officially launched on May 30, 2018 at an event dubbed Epic Wednesday.
But even before this, the island has been abuzz with activities leading up to the main events in July. And, from all reports coming out of the Saint Lucia Tourism Authority, which has stepped up efforts at marketing Saint Lucia carnival as part of the Soleil Summer Festivals, airlift to Saint Lucia for the festival is in high demand and most hotels on the island are indicating high occupancy for carnival this year too.
Minister for Local Government and Culture Fortuna Belrose on Monday sought to apprise the press of how some of the events have been progressing.
“We are indeed heartened with the enthusiasm that we see, across the country with respect to the carnival; we are happy with the decentralization thrust that happened this year; most of the communities came through with the various events that they have scheduled, some of which have begun… I know a few of them have had their queen shows and of course the various calypsos or calypso tents are moving into the various communities,” Ms Belrose stated.
This year, the Government of Saint Lucia, through a Calypso Management Committee, is once again giving financial support to the calypso tents.
Each of the Calypso tent shows are benefitting from a payoff of $30,000 in support of venue, band, performers and other costs.
The Government, through the CMC, is also staging two Soca events ahead of the national competition, the first of which took place in Dennery last Friday the second to be held this Sunday in Anse la Raye.
As of last year, the prize money for the various competitions, including the Calypso competition, was also increased. That event was won by Pep, who had retired from politics to return to calypso, walking away with the top prize of $35,000.
On Monday, Minister Belrose also provided some clarity on Government’s position with regards to Calypso.
“In terms of the Government’s feedback for the songs, because I know that has always been an issue with respect to people singing calypso and singing about Government Ministers and singing about Government… It’s the season, you know let’s have fun… And so, all we want is for the fun to be clean, respectful and for people to understand that we are living in a society where people are free to express themselves, within the confines of the law”.
According to Ms Belrose, “That having been said, as citizens, we need to always be mindful that we live in a society where people have to live for a very long time and so the respect and consideration for each other must be there at all times.”
The media was also informed Monday that given the excitement for Saint Lucia’s Carnival this year and Government’s continued investment, all of the events are expected to do well again, as was the case in 2017. One such indicator was the fact that for the first time in its history the National Carnival Queen pageant has been sold out two weeks ahead of the June 30 event.
Newly installed Chairman of the Cultural Development Foundation (CDF) Danny Belizaire was also present at Monday’s press briefing and spoke on the issues of venue and some of the national events for carnival.
“Of course, last year we experimented with the Vigie playing field or ‘The Sab’ and we plan on doing that again this year. It worked very well for us, we saw for the first time in fact last year, a vast improvement in the audience at Panorama and the King and Queen of the bands and we want to push them a lot.
“I think that is going to be a major thrust within the CDF this year,” Belizaire told the media.
Carnival in Saint Lucia runs until July with the National Parade of the Bands taking center stage on July 16 and 17.
The national events for carnival are being organized by the CDF and the Events Company of Saint Lucia, while the community activities and some of the private events are given support by those entities. (Ministry for Local Government and Culture)