Businesses hold little hope of boom from CARIFESTA

The expectations of Bridgetown retailers and artisans vary on the potential impact of the Caribbean Festival of Arts (CARIFESTA) on business and the arts.

The international multicultural event, which will take place from August 17-27 and is expected to attract an estimated 2,000 visitors to Barbados, is the biggest cultural display in the region, bringing together more than 20 countries from the Caribbean and Latin America for an eclectic display of the arts.

Azizah Onifa of Azipho’s Creations is a local artisan who has high expectations that the cultural showcase will result in increased business for her and those operating at Pelican Village.

However, Onifa had some criticism for the Ministry of Culture for omitting the popular cultural hub from the 27 selected venues listed to host the over 500 events.

In the meantime, she has taken it upon herself to organize a fringe event, in association with the Rastafarian collective to highlight the culture and history of Barbados.

Onifa told Barbados TODAY that CARIFESTA was just the beginning for a cultural sector that was in need of polishing.

“To keep the culture going we have to create activities that can have the arts as the spectacle because the arts are being hidden and it is not raising in the island as it should. I think they should create more spectacle because coming from Bridgetown market the other day, I think Bridgetown market is not selling the artists’ work.

“They call that a cultural event but I think it is being drowned by a lot of toys, things that are buy and sell rather than the real indigenous one-of-a-kind, authentic feel of the arts,” said the managing director of Azipho’s Creations.

“I think they need to keep these cultural events focused on the arts, which is the visual, the artistic, whether it be jewellery, painting, clothing, fashion, all aspects of it,” she added.

With the Pelican Village and Craft Centre being omitted from the festival, she argued that the facility was in need of urgent revival.

“Instead of trying to see Pelican as a dead place, try to bring Pelican from that stage in order to make it a lively place and . . .  get the Barbadian public accepting and loving the things we do here in Pelican and others will embrace it naturally,” Onifa suggested.

Meantime, Reverend Onphra Wells told Barbados TODAY he was looking forward to the festival which commences on Thursday.

“There will be a beautiful cross fertilization of ideas and cultural manifestations and ways of doing things . . . . We expect to see the lifting of the bar in terms of our own national cultural expressions and all the things we will be able to learn [and] the friendships,” the artist said.

The prominent Pan-Africanist said he expected that further exploration of the cultural industries would work to Government’s advantage.

“The new frontier in terms of empowerment is culture and if we can put the structures in place to have the learning, the expression, the rewarding, the growth, that means employment in all the genres – in theatre, in arts, music, dance, all the areas,” he stated.

Wells stressed that it was important for locals to ride the CARIFESTA wave and continue to develop, expand and export their products and services.

“Since we have this exposure to CARIFESTA, this hype and this enthusiasm, then let us band together and give the people in authority . . . the roadmap as to where we want to go, as if it is about us. We should have a say in the course,” Wells said.

Businesses not related to the arts held that the festival showed great promise but they did not have high expectations that it would equate to increased sales.

Customer Service and Public Communications Manager at Cave Shepherd Mark Anthony told Barbados TODAY that with large numbers of people coming in, the popular department store anticipated an increase in souvenir items and international brands purchases.

However, considering that other countries throughout the region were suffering from economic challenges, he did not expect high consumption.

“We . . . have to wait and see because we also have to consider that the recession is not just affecting Barbados but it is affecting the entire Caribbean and people’s spending power might be a bit restricted,” he said.

Meanwhile, vegetable vendor Princess Belgrave believed that taxi operators, artists and service providers would be the sole beneficiaries of the ten-day festival.

“It is more going to benefit the people that selling in the stores and the taxi owners and people selling on the beach because when people come to a country on vacation they aren’t coming to buy local food to cook,” she said.

Although vendor Christopher Harris did not know much about the festival, aside from the advertisements he has seen in the newspapers, he was of the view that anything that brought foreign exchange into the country should be welcomed.

“I hope it goes for the best because Barbados want a little rise in the economy some way or the other. Anything that can help support it, I am for that,” the Cheapside market vendor said.

4 Responses to Businesses hold little hope of boom from CARIFESTA

  1. Carson C Cadogan August 16, 2017 at 8:03 am

    That’s the Barbados private sector for you.


    For reasons best known to the private sector of Barbados they always fail to capitalise on great opportunities to increase business in Barbados. Any other country in the Caribbean would welcome Carifesta as a great opportunity to increase business and push their companies forward. But not the Barbados private sector.

    Business people in Barbados seem to be “”Business people “” in name only. This Carifesta was planned and talked about for over a year but the so call business people in Barbados are now acting as though they have been caught with their pants down. They had plenty to plan for this event and to discuss with Govt. what they concerns are so that they might be addressed.

    IF THE PRIVATE SECTOR WOULD SPEND LESS TIME TRYING TO OVER THROW THE GOVT. and more time on Business development strategies then they would be better off at this juncture.

    And maybe what they really need is a proper Head of the private sector organisation. Some one with brilliant ideas to advance them to the next level, instead of talking of “”Social Unrest”” in correspondence to our Prime Minister.

  2. Helicopter(8P) August 16, 2017 at 8:35 am

    One great Barbadian manufacturer of times before the internet, Face-book, or any App was a man by the name of Mr Husbands of Husband’s Wrought Iron Works. He did a great job of marketing his products during the sixties and seventies with great “One of a kind creations”.

  3. Robert August 16, 2017 at 6:52 pm

    Where are the Barbadian exports? I understand in Toronto, and perhaps New York you may buy products exported from Barbados? However what about the rest of the country?
    I live in Canada , my Green Seasoning comes from T&T , my Yellow Pepper sauce, does not come from Barbados! The only products I have from BIM are those I bring home. Where are the exporters, Barbados needs the foreign exchange !

  4. Carson C Cadogan August 16, 2017 at 8:56 pm

    The Barbados Private sector is using their time to play politics. They are the new political party in Barbados.

    So dont expect to see any yellow sauce or anything from Barbados soon.

    The St. Lucians are penetrating the sauces and seasonings markets all over the World. Baron Foods Ltd are doing a fine job. “”We have distributors worldwide”” say Baron Foods Ltd on their website. The Barbados private sector cant seem to get it done. All they do is moan and groan and complain. And try to overthrow the Govt.

    You can get Baron Foods ltd products in Japan attractively packaged. The only thing from Barbados you get is Japan is Mount Gay Rum. Even though most of Barbados’ foreign exchange is spent in Japan importing Japanese sheet metal in the form of vehicles.


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