Dancers going through the paces??at a previous Community Dancefest. (FP)??

Community Development and Culture Minister, Steve Blackett, is concerned that the community as a focal point for artistic expression in Barbados is on the wane and unless this trend is reversed, could spell danger to the development of the local cultural industry.

Speaking at the Community DanceFest Awards Ceremony at the Warrens Office Complex, last Saturday, he stressed that every effort must be made to rekindle a "community spirit", if Barbados was to fully harness and develop the talent and skills of its people, on which the creative industries must be built.

Citing the National Cultural Foundation’s efforts to encourage community participation through Crop-Over and the National Independence Festival of Creative Arts, Mr. Blackett said more initiatives were required to provide an outlet for talent within the community for persons who wish to reach the "big stage".

In this regard, the Minister gave Community DanceFest a "thumbs up" for ensuring active participation from the young Barbadian public, while simultaneously employing a more community oriented approach.

He added that his ministry, in collaboration with civil society, "would continue to promote an environment which supports and sustains both creative expression and a creative economy for those prepared to pursue excellence."

To this end, Mr. Blackett revealed that the Community Development Department would undertake a series of workshops and other activities for dance groups leading up to this year’s festival.

"These workshops will focus holistically on areas, including choreography and costumes, personal grooming, public speaking, interpersonal skills and anger-management," he explained.

Chief Community Development Officer, Sandra Greenidge pointed out that the support for, and response to, DanceFest was quite overwhelming this year, with the event a showcasing of the best in youth participation and conduct.

She added that her department would go all out to ensure an even better competition for 2010/2011, with several plans in the works for the upcoming season.

Among them, the official revealed, was the staging of several "mini-events" within the communities in an effort to harness the "creative energy" and support for the four-year-old dance festival.

Ms. Greenidge also announced that entry forms for this year’s competition were available and persons are being invited to register early by contacting the department, 4th Floor, East Wing, Warrens Office Complex, Warrens, St. Michael at 310-1700.

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