Minister of Community Development and Culture, Steven Blackett, presents a Gold Award for Music (Amateur Category) to Kareem Agard of the Alexandra School

Over the coming years, the National Cultural Foundation (NCF) is expected to play an even greater role in honing the talents of young Barbadians who participate in the annual National Independence Festival of Creative Arts (NIFCA).  This move is designed to benefit them financially long after the three month festival has concluded.

Minister of Community Development and Culture, Steven Blackett, alluded to the NCF’s developmental programme that seeks to assist the artistes in developing their craft, while he delivered the feature address during the 2008 NIFCA awards.  The event was held at Ilaro Court last evening.

He told the large gathering, that included government officials, awardees and well-wishers, that every year, local audiences were enthralled by the creativity of the entrants, and he lamented that after the festival the performers seemed to disappear into thin air.

“So often, I have wished that I could purchase a CD, of some performance that I witnessed on stage at the Gala or at the Finals but this was not to be. I know that many of you would have also experienced this.”

The Minister further stated that: “Clearly, what is needed, is an effective strategy that will allow those persons who excel in NIFCA, and in other cultural events as well, to develop their talents further, on one hand.  On the other hand, we need to provide a structure and a mechanism which would allow them to realise some form of economic return from these performances,” he observed.

Re-affirming Government’s commitment to the development of the island’s cultural industries, Mr. Blackett revealed that the NCF would package, market and provide high quality recordings of major events such as the NIFCA Gala.  He also disclosed that discussions had been ongoing across the board with a view to getting more youth participation in positive cultural activities that would lead to greater participation in NIFCA.

Mr. Blackett, who chaired the recently concluded Fourth Meeting of Inter-American Ministers of Culture in Barbados, said during the lengthy discussion on youth involvement in the cultural industries, a presentation was made on the Remix Project – a programme that targets young people between the ages of 15 to 24, who are interested in pursuing a career in the Arts.

“I know that we already have in place a pretty effective programme in the form of Youth Achieving Results, or the YAR Programme, but I think that the relevant agencies – my Ministry, the Ministry responsible for Youth Affairs and the National Cultural Foundation, must now work together to take this programme to the next level, as the saying goes.  The Remix Project, is to my mind, an excellent model to use as a guide,” he remarked.

During the ceremony, several talented performers were rewarded for their excellence in creativity in the Arts.

Among the awardees were Tuesdai Pounder and Adrian Callender, who both copped the $35,000 Prime Minister’s Scholarship prize; while Michelle Maloney and Gloria Chung received the Governor General’s Award in the categories of Culinary Arts and Visual Arts, respectively.

A number of symbols of excellence awards and other special prizes were also presented to the winners.

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