For some, St Cecilia’s Day or the feast of musicians may be a thing of the past, insignificant even. But for many musicians in Saint Lucia particularly those from the “old school” this is their day and more should be done according to them, to promote the feast and the cause of musicians here in general.
And so on Thursday November 22, St Cecilia’s Day, a number of musicians got together around town in areas such as Jeremie Street and on Peynier Street near Steve’s barbershop to celebrate. But the major focus was on an initiative of the Ministry of Tourism Heritage and Creative Industries in collaboration with the National Initiative to Create Employment (NICE) on that day. The agencies used the day to launch two Creative Industries developed programs with an open air concert at the Castries waterfront.
From mid-afternoon on Thursday the open area near the Government Buildings complex on the Castries waterfront a showcase concert took place featuring performances in dance, poetry, theatre and music.
According to organizers the launch was used to inaugurate the National Performance program and Music Video Stimulus program both of which seeks to focus squarely on Saint Lucia’s creative human resource.
“The creative industry is a relatively new sector for us and I know that people may have been saying that we are moving too slowly,” Judith Crane St Hill deputy PS in the Ministry of Tourism, Heritage and Creative Industries told the STAR. “But we wanted to get as many people involved in the process before we actually got off the ground and so we thought that using St Cecilia’s day to launch these programs would have been the perfect platform,” she added.
The collaboration with the National Initiative to Create Employment (NICE) is to serve as the funding unit, aiding in the development and implementation of programs and projects of national import, generating employment. The Ministry of Tourism, Heritage and Creative industries has therefore worked with NICE to develop these initiatives which is seen as avenues to creating sustainable employment.
Thursday’s concert featured performances by acts like DYP, poets and spoken word artiste Stephen Dantes and Black Crayon, the “Untitled 51” dancers, Reggae performer Zionomi, reigning Calypso Monarch Nintus as well as Soca artistes Invader, Marianne, Ambi, Alpha and Mongstar among others. In between the performances MC Scady took the opportunity to call on performers to register with the National Performance Program which comes on stream in December 2012.
According to St Hill, the launch was used as a way to promote the National Performance Program. This program will seek to offer employment to Saint Lucian performers at national air and sea ports along with other public venues in various towns and villages. “The intention is to capture these performances not just at our ports but in communities around the island where they can showcase their art to visitors and locals alike. So they will be on rotation moving around and entertaining and this of course will be continuous employment for these artistes,” St Hill says. Initially she say the program will run for about three months December 2012 to March or April 2013 and it will be monitored and reviewed with the intention of making it something more permanent. The program will also involve agencies such as the St Lucia Air and Sea Ports Authority, city, town and village councils, development foundations, the Folk Research Center (FRC) and the Cultural Development Foundation (CDF). Together they would help establish a national performance itinerary and schedule which would be the platform for persons on the national performance register to gain employment.
NICE and the Creative Industries sector is also collaborating on a music video stimulus program which will offer funding grants towards the production of music videos. Combined with a monitoring component, resources will be directed towards filming and post production, scripting, storyboards and other viable components of the music video production process.
The overall objective of both programs according to the Ministry of Tourism, Heritage and Creative Industries even beyond generating employment and having a stimulus effect is the establishment of a consistent model for discovery, education, training, refinement and the production of artists and intellectual properties. The goal the ministry says is to promote a framework able to propel a sustainable economic growth engine, generating royalties for generations, while farming national talent in music, dance, theatre, poetry and film. Also, governments’ subordinate goals including data collection, cultural mapping, and codification of artists for export, refinement of product and branding.
According to St Hill judging from the feedback she received on Thursday, the launch program went well. “I walked around during the latter part of the program to hear people comments and generally the activity was well received,” she says. “Although you know you look around and see things from a production standpoint that could have been better,” she admitted adding that there were a few persons who felt having the launch on a Friday or Saturday would have been better. “However we felt strongly about hosting this activity on Saint Cecilia’s day as something the performers could really connect to and identify with,” the deputy PS says.
With Mongstar performing the song “Saint Lucia We Love,” the stage on Thursday became engulfed with dancers, other performers and confetti, ending the night sometime around 7:30 PM. In view across the waters at
the sea port a burst of fireworks lit up the evening sky as the crowd in attendance cheered and the performers looked on in hope that indeed a new day
this St Cecilia’s Day had dawned.