The return of the Saint Lucia Jazz and Arts Festival after a three-year absence has seen private and public support sectors across towns, villages and communities. But a brand-new youthful infusion has attracted top corporate support for its potential to provide positive alternatives for the island’s youth in these times.
The Junior Jazz & Arts Festival, the first of its kind, is sponsored by 1st National Bank, Sandals Halcyon and LUCELEC; and the new sound is being tuned by the Castries City Council (CCC), supported by the Ministry of Housing and Local Government, Ministry of Youth Development & Sports and Dove Productions.
Under the theme ‘Music and Art from the Youth of Our Nation: Students and School-leavers Alike’, the inaugural Junior Jazz and Arts Festival was publicly launched at Constitution Park (outside the CCC Auditorium) yesterday (Friday), with the actual festival to take place over two days next week, just ahead of the Opening of Jazz 2023 at Mindoo Philip Park last night.
To be hosted at the spacious, decorated and enclosed Serenity Park at Sans Soucis, the two-day event – Thursday May 11 and Friday May 12 – the island’s very-first Junior Jazz & Arts Festival will be enjoyed by all who wish to from anywhere, as entry will be free.
The event was also pre-launched on April 26 by co-sponsor Sandals Halcyon at its Choc Bay Beach Resort, where Castries Mayor Geraldine Lendor disclosed the two-day eight-hour event will be broadcast live to 81 countries and providing an opportunity “for us to move our people from being on the stage at home at this time, to hitting the world stage, very, very soon…”
Dove Productions representative Kimberly Peters said they were pleased to have helped to “establish a platform and an opportunity for our youth to shine – and they deserve it…”
Music Coordinator Shirley-Ann Cyril-Myers said the youth-oriented festival provides “not only an opportunity to furnish youth talent,” but also “to help make changes in the lives of our youth, despite all the social ills currently facing them and eroding our values…”
Local Government Minister Richard Frederick said he too looks forward to the Junior Jazz & Arts Festival “providing an opportunity for young people to showcase their hidden talents” and “to build on them henceforth…”
The minister said the festival was also aimed at attracting talent from the island’s schools to its inner cities, “as no young person should be left out…”
Junior Jazz & Arts is one of the fresh and new elements added to the festival this year, the first without COVID restrictions and with a wider national reach than last year’s first return of the annual national event.
The festival wasn’t held here in 2020, 2021 and 2022, but this year’s full return will also see unique performances in village communities like Desruisseaux, where another new fusion of ‘Jazz and Kweyol’ will take place tomorrow (May 7), featuring regional and international music, in the spirit of Saint Lucia Jazz — and a Kweyol taste.
The national celebration runs from May 5 to 14 and was launched last night at the Mindoo Philip Park at Marchand, featuring stars ranging from the local ‘DYP’ (Derek Yard Productions) to ‘KES The Band’ — the first time since 2016, and since 2021, when six-time Castries East MP Philip J. Pierre became Prime Minister.
Saint Lucia Tourism Authority’s Public Relations Manager Geraine Georges says all signs are that this year’s return of the three-decades-old Saint Lucia Jazz Festival will also see a larger tourism input, including nationals returning from the worldwide Saint Lucia Diaspora.
Meanwhile, a senior 1st National Bank official says the nation’s first indigenous bank is pleased to be the ‘Title Sponsor’ of the Youth Jazz and Arts festival to be held at Serenity Park.
According to Deputy Managing Director Sandra Fontinelle, “Our bank continues to identify with social causes that uplift and provide opportunities for young people, as with our traditional support of school and university lectures — and for the island’s inspiring and record-braking star youth athlete Julien Alfred.”
“Today, we are even more pleased to exercise our corporate responsibility to assist in opening more avenues and providing more opportunities to help Saint Lucians — and the rest of the world – to continue to bank on Saint Lucia Jazz and Arts always being simply different.”
“And,” the Deputy MD said, “You can always bank on us to support such healthy youthful initiatives, especially as this is a first in Saint Lucia, which definitely aligns with our name!”
The premiere Junior Jazz & Arts Festival runs from 11am to 3pm each day, at Serenity Park.