Programmes like the Community Dance Festival (Dance Fest) and other cultural activities unite and empower individuals and communities.

This is the belief of Minister of Social Care, Constituency Empowerment and Community Development, Steve Blackett, who was addressing the official launch of Community Dance Fest 2015-2016, last Saturday evening in Jubilee Gardens, the City.

Mr. Blackett said that over the years, Community Dance Fest has become a platform where community groups and other organisations come together to showcase their talent through dance, while highlighting the importance of working as a team.

???Research has shown that the activity of dance builds confidence at the level of the individual, and for the unattached and minority groups, it promotes contact and builds social cohesion???

???This festival has thus become a major forum through which people from the communities tell their stories via creative and scintillating dance movements, while exposing themselves to acquiring a range of skills. As a result, for some of the former participants, dance has become their self-reliance tool through which their skill-sets have afforded them some opportunities to perform in various areas of the arts, as well as to generate some remuneration, even if small,??? he stated.

The Social Care Minister said that the enactment of the Cultural Industries Development Act was in recognition of the importance of the performing arts to both the social and economic development of the country. However, he insisted that Government could not do it alone.

???[Government] needs the assistance and buy-in of all its partners, particularly in areas like community development. I want to publicly thank the City of Bridgetown Co-operative Credit Union (COB), our sponsors of the last three years, for recognising the importance of partnership and coming on board with Community Dance Fest.

“???I am also appealing to other businesses to partner with the Community Development Department as they endeavour to build better communities through collective and creative action that would certainly ???unleash the spirit of the community???,??? he urged.

President of COB, Henderson Williams, stated that his organisation viewed young people as one of the country???s most precious resources. He revealed that the COB was committed to assisting with providing an environment for young people ???that protects them, empowers them and encourages excellence in a plethora of areas inclusive of academics, athletics and the arts???.

Community Dance Fest, now in its 10th year, was initially conceptualised to celebrate Barbados??? 40th anniversary of Independence. This year, the competition has been extended to all genres of dance, including Latin, liturgical and jazz. Community Dance Fest will also now have a digital presence on twitter and Instagram with the handle ???Idancefest???.

Auditions will be held in October, the preliminaries in November, and the zone finals in December. The Grand Finals will take place on Errol Barrow Day, January 21, 2016, at the Garfield Sobers Sports Complex.??

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