Participants in the annually staged Community Dance Fest have an added reason to showcase their talent this year, following the disclosure that there would be increased prize money for the winners.

Speaking at the launch of the festival yesterday, Minister of Social Care, Constituency Empowerment and Community Development, Steve Blackett, revealed that the amount which was awarded to winners since the competition’s inception in 2006, would now be doubled.

"The prize money… will increase for the winners in the junior and senior categories….The first prize will be increased from $2,500 to $5,000; the second prize will be moved from $2,000 to $4,000, and the third prize will be taken from $1,500 to $3,000," the Minister stated.

In addition, Minister Blackett said the highly anticipated National Finals, which attract approximately 7000 spectators yearly, would be relocated from the Wildey Gymnasium to Kensington Oval, and would no longer take place on January 21 – Errol Barrow Day, but would instead be staged on January 1, 2013 – New Year’s Day.

He noted that the dance competition, which is organised and produced by the Community Development Department in collaboration with the Ministry of Social Care, Constituency Empowerment and Community Development as well as the Ministry of Family, Culture, Sports and Youth, has "continued to register a steady and significant increase in popularity and participation over the past five years.????

"It is a project specially designed to use the medium of dance as a vehicle for achieving social integration, social cohesion and behaviour change especially among the youth…

It also speaks to the confidence placed in my Ministry and the Community Development Department to successfully execute an activity, which seeks in a wholesome way, to provide a fun and friendly alternative to every day tensions," the Social Care Minister emphasised.

Indicating that provision was being made to ensure that the aim of Dance Fest was being met, Minister Blackett said that his Ministry would "…establish a mechanism to follow and monitor the performance as well as the general progress of each young participant in the Community Dance Fest.??

"We will pursue with intensity those provisions within the Government, private sector and civil society for educational and other social interventions that are designed to assist each one of them in refining and reaching their goals," he promised.


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