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Local artistes should be at forefront of our festivals — Wheatley

Dr Wheatley

Minister of Culture Dr Natalio Wheatley believes local artistes should be at the forefront of all major festivals.

Dr Wheatley has therefore instructed the Chairman of the Virgin Islands Festival & Fairs Committee, Carnel Clyne, “to ensure that local artistes have meaningful participation in [the] activities”.

“Every country, every territory celebrates their own local artistes and the Virgin Islands should be no different,” Dr Wheatley said while speaking at a media conference to launch this year’s Virgin Gorda Easter Fest scheduled for April 13, 20, 21, and 22.

Dr Wheatley believes that investing in local talent will ease some of the major expenses often used to hire popular international acts.

Bring back old-time festival

He further said he wants festival to return to what it represented back in its initial years when government injected little funds into those events which he said were still largely memorable and enjoyed.

“I would like to see us go back to the days when these festivals were mainly about family friends, fun, food and celebrating our culture. It’s alright that we have artistes who come from many different countries that we enjoy, but I think we’ve gotten a little bit far from our roots and we have to return to our roots,” the minister said.

He added: “I will like to see us go back to having more private promoters involved and taking on some of the burden, especially of the foreign entertainment. I will [also] like to see much more of a fundraising effort throughout the years.”

Current festival model too expensive for gov’t

Meanwhile, representative of the Ninth District where Virgin Gorda is located, Vincent Wheatley, believes the current model used for hosting festivals is significantly costing central government.

“Where I grew up, the festival model was very different than what we have now. The village never really went past 12 o’clock. The business was the one who always brought in the outside bands until the village closed; then you went to private port places. But, now that model has changed to where the village stays open all night” he said.

Beneficiaries who want longer festivals should hire bands

The district representative also believes the beneficiaries that want the village to run later “should consider hiring those bands to keep the village working”.

The ministers’ statements come amid the announcement that this year’s festival will once again be scaled down because of financial constraints.

Some $700,000 has been budgeted for ALL festivals this year. However, government is already $300,000 in debt for previous festivals.

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6 Comments

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  1. Novice says:

    Poor fellow. He will learn.

    Like 5
    Dislike 13
  2. Weir D. Playne says:

    In the 80’s and 90’s local artist were supported well and were hugely popular. This was during the 10,000 estimated population era. System, Prime Time, Awesome, 17 Plus, Ecstacy, Jamband events always had a crowd. As the population rapidly increased and became more diversed the culture also began to diversify. Our local soca is different from than the soca from the other islands so people from the other islands support and prefer their local music more than our local artist. Our local music doesn’t really move beyond the Virgin Islands including USVI so it never catched on regionally. It would be hard to find a Guyanese, Trinidad, Vincy, Grenada etc radio station playing a VI song during their festival. So when you have a large number of expats they wont gravitate towards our music. Nothing necessarily wrong with that.

    The only time local artist are supported is in jouvert as the options are limited and jouvert is the biggest event of our festival for party animals. Unlike other times when people will say we dont want to see Showtime or VIBE they aren’t willing to just stay home so jouvert gets a huge crowd.

    It’s a fact that outside artist are more supported than our locals. Even locals prefer the outside artist more than the locals because they prefer when there is a large and energetic crowd.
    Vendors and festival committee also prefer the crowd that outside artist bring compared to locals so there’s no getting around the issues that the festival committee will face.

    Like 24
    Dislike 2
  3. @Novice says:

    He is on the right frame of thought o this one.

    Like 13
    Dislike 1
  4. I'll say, Florida says:

    No disrespect and please take It as a compliment Dr.Wheatly.I think you are a nice looking guy.

    Like 3
    Dislike 1
  5. Anonymous says:

    I see we are dumping our local calypso show. that ain’t a good move at all.

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