While describing the Saint Lucia Jazz & Arts Festival as a pathway for local artistes to be exposed to the international arena — Tourism Minister Dr. Ernest Hilaire noted that the island can also benefit from a creative economy.
The minister spoke expressively about the recent jazz event at a reception organized by the management of the Saint Lucia Tourism Authority [SLTA], Wednesday night, to recognize the role of the local media in promoting the festival. He also provided an update and review of the festival’s status and prospects for upgrading the production.
Representatives from the print, electronic and on-line media outlets gathered at the recently opened Bambozee night club, Rodney Bay, for a social discourse and interactive discussion on the highs and lows emanating from the festival.
“We were hugely successful because you showed your support, you helped us sell the festival to help create the excitement, to create the vibe about the festival and to make Saint Lucians really discover their love for what is a genuine Saint Lucian product,” declared Dr. Hilaire.
The minister stated boldly that Saint Lucians came out in support of the festival to make a “singular statement …that this belongs to us and it has been returned to us”.
He said many persons yearned for the return of the festival and noted that the public support was fantastic.
Dr. Hilaire declared that from the opening night at the Mindoo Philip Park, Marchand “we knew something special was about to happen…the look and feel of the place and the way that the show unfolded, we knew that something special was in the air”.
He acknowledged the work ethics of staffers from the SLTA and Events Company of Saint Lucia (ECSL) for putting in a tremendous effort “to try to come up with a formula that can work, in terms of what are the thematic nights and who best fits the thematic night.”
At the same time, the minister added, the marketing strategy extends to “relating it to the markets that we try to attract visitors.”
There was quite a buzz about the performances of the local artistes and prospects for creating a viable economic environment.
“This Jazz & Arts Festival had the largest number of local performers ever …and the Saint Lucia Jazz & Arts Festival is a pathway for our aspiring creatives to be able to be on an international stage,” declared Hilaire.
He added: “So, we create it to be an international stage by having those well-known, well-established Grammy Winners on the stage …but at the same time allowing our local performers to fit in onto the stage.
“So, it’s important that our locals (artistes) find a place on that stage. But they don’t (just) jump there, they need to move up from the fringe events …and then move on to the side stage and then the main stage.”
He noted that “this year, the fringe events really scored and they really made a significant mark” in the respective communities where the events were held.
The minister anticipates that the fringe events will get “even bigger and create greater opportunities for our locals”.
Hilaire hinted that the arts component will be incorporated into the festival to create a bigger impact, next year.
He noted that with the island hosting several events within the year, such as Jazz &Arts, Carnival, Emancipation and Creole Heritage Month “there is no doubt (about) the impact of the festival on the economic life in Saint Lucia”.
Hilaire asserted: “I feel there is also no doubt about the importance of those events on establishing a creative economy in Saint Lucia.
“We have to have these events and these creative expressions throughout the year, where our creatives can see that they can earn a livelihood, because throughout the year there will be events that they can take part in,” Hilaire declared.