Written by 2:14 pm Art

#BTEditorial – Forty-nine years of NIFCA; welcome back!

The National Independence Festival of Creative Arts (NIFCA) is back staging its first live showcase since 2019. The annual festival is now in its forty ninth yr.

Like Crop Over, the national festival that’s synonymous with top local talent, could have in-person events throughout the month of November.

Last yr, Barbados TODAY partnered with the National Cultural Foundation (NCF) to bring our Facebook audience the live stream of the launch of the NIFCA Online Channel.

We’d have livestreamed a lot of the events presented in a digital format.

Hundreds abroad and at home found interviews with musical icons compelling with the programme Reminisce. Actors, actresses and spoken word artistes were an element of theatre arts Rewind. Those thinking about literary arts were logged on to a radio drama, Ashes to Ashes. In culinary they got suggestions in the course of the Cooking the Enid Maxwell Way episodes. But the most important hit was the Bajan Songbook production.

The 24-hour channel not only offered new content but additionally servings of nostalgia with the airing of NIFCA’s past.

Based on what was said at a media launch Wednesday there’s something in each event for lovers of the humanities.

NCF Chief Executive Officer Carol Roberts-Reifer promised that the numerous artistic communities were all reflected within the programming.

She said: “NIFCA 2022 will probably be delivered in a hybrid format that mixes each digital and face-to-face events and experiences, generating content that will probably be available for distribution online in the long run.

“Each of the seven disciplines often featured at NIFCA will probably be showcased… Prior to this evening’s launch, we’d have engaged with the NIFCA community over a period of weeks and a whole lot of the comments and proposals out of that series of interactions actually informs the NIFCA programme this yr,” the CEO said.

For years, NIFCA has served our country’s artists and artistes well. Unlike Crop Over, the opposite festival produced by the NCF, NIFCA plays a much more developmental role. On that stage, school choirs, community groups, church groups, budding musicians, aspiring actors, would-be dancers and inmates of Dodds Prisons are all afforded the chance to “show wha’ they will do” quoting the lyrics to the well-known promotional jingle.

On NIFCA’s stages, a few of our country’s best-known actors were born. The dance groups are plentiful and the year-long practice and exertions of many are showcased to the broader country in November. Our Bajan dishes and traditional eats also take centre stage at NIFCA. Icons similar to Enid Maxwell in visual arts, the creative expression of our country’s artists is laid bare for all to see and interpret.

Minister within the Prime Minister’s Office Culture, Senator Dr. Shantal Munro-Knight, said that NIFCA played a crucial role in helping to shape national identity.

NIFCA encourages creatives to make use of all tools available to be able to proceed to inform the story of who we’re and what makes us unique as Barbadian people. The goal to preserve our cultural heritage and expression goes hand-in-hand with our efforts to repeatedly construct out community programmes which can be engaging in all disciplines.

She added: “The festival provides an enormous platform for individuals in several art forms to showcase their skills, express themselves and share in a community of like-minded individuals. Work displayed on the festival continues to spotlight social, economic and environmental issues in a form that could be easily digested by the audiences that attend.”

The minister’s comments are interesting given all that has transpired over the past few days. If the goal is to preserve heritage then we cannot seek to rewrite or erase history.

The entire creative pieces whether or not it’s song, dance, drama or writings are reflective of our Barbadian society. Essentially, these creative expressions tell the Barbadian story through the years from NIFCA’s inception in 1973.

As we move forward and reshape a Barbados that’s more reflective of Barbadians, embracing our culture and heritage stays key. In whatever manner Barbados is redefined or reshaped, the preservation of our nationhood as we proceed to be “strict guardians of our heritage” needs to be on the forefront.

We owe it to future generations to make sure that the origins of our national identity are known, understood, appreciated and passed on. That is what makes us unique. That is what makes the story of Barbados such a special one.

NIFCA and its impact should never be undermined or diminished. Exit and be an element of the activities and proceed to safeguard the wealthy history of the festival now in its forty ninth yr of existence.

Regardless of the consequence of the consultations on retaining November 30 as Independence Day, we should have a spot for NIFCA which is a big outlet of artistic expression. Let’s hope too that the name of the festival is untouched.

The Barbados National Day Festival of Creative Arts has little intending to the hundreds who’ve won NIFCA awards over time or the hundreds who patronise it.

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