Festivals are excellent for stimulating social and economic activity, especially within the City environment.
So said Minister of Culture, Sports and Youth, Stephen Lashley, while make a presentation at the VI Inter-American Meeting of Ministers of Culture and Highest Appropriate Authorities in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on Tuesday, August 12.
Addressing participants on the topic, Local Development through Culture, during the plenary session on Cities and Cultures, Minister Lashley asserted: ???The more opportunities we can provide for cultural expression in our cities, the better.???
He outlined that festivals assisted with job creation, revenue earning, and foreign exchange generation.??Using Crop Over as an example, the Culture Minister explained this island???s biggest festival was indeed ???more than a carnival??? because it featured a wide variety of cultural activities.
???We ensure that components of our annual Crop Over Festival are staged within the environs of Bridgetown. Bridgetown is the venue for the staging of the very popular steel pan and visual arts events?????? he said, adding that the modern festival is reflective of old traditions which also help to preserve Barbados??? cultural heritage.
Alluding to the festival???s economic earnings, he stressed that ??????returns for its organisers, the National Cultural Foundation, might not be impressive. [But] what is important, however, is that the returns are manifested in the wider economy, in the conservative estimate of some US$55 million, which are generated each year.???
Minister Lashley told the participants that Barbados would be launching its Bridgetown Arts Festival in 2015 which would feature various art disciplines. He acknowledged that every major city in the world has an Arts Festival and said he believed such an initiative would be a valuable attraction for Barbadians and visitors.
???I also intend, very shortly, to introduce another regular cultural event which would transform Bridgetown???s main street into a Mall, featuring cultural and sporting activities throughout the day,??? he said.
He disclosed that through re-enactments, part of Bridgetown would be transformed to showcase how the island???s forefathers functioned within that space. ???Business houses and individual vendors would also be able to ply their trade both inside and outside of the stores. This would attract not only Barbadians, but it would also be an attraction for visitors,??? Mr. Lashley stated.