Tag Archives: La Marguerite

Educative Arts Fest coming to Saint Lucia

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Save the date….

3rd Caribbean Educative Arts Festival October 14th to 17th 2016 Saint Lucia Title: reparARTory Call for presentations There is arguably no major global discussion today that engages and emboldens the Caribbean as the Caribbean reparations movement. Not only does history remember the region as the dislocated home of the children of the victims of enslavement, […]

via CEAF 2016 Call for Presentations (CfP) — Repeating Islands

Flower Festivals: To Bloom or Die?

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“Soukou, Soukou; mayday, mayday, mayday!” was the cry on Saturday May 26th, as the Cultural Development Foundation (CDF) convened a consultation to rescue Saint Lucia’s flower festivals. The call was answered by members of La Rose and La Marguerite groups that, in the end, still seem to favour heavier involvement of CDF and the church for their survival.

Despite the attendance of Governor General Dame Pearlette Louisy, Monsignor Patrick A.B. Anthony, and other prominent persons in the cultural sphere, it was clear that the festivals lacked the most important source of support – the people who have been its lifeblood for centuries. The flower festivals have slowly dwindled and the consultation sought the input of those involved to resuscitate the tradition and guide this year’s celebrations.

Floral societies have their roots set in Africa and the current musical rivalry, cloaked under the display of a mock administration (from the royal family to army, health service, etc.), expressed the desire and capacity of slaves for self-governance.  With a known history dating from the 1700s, Monsignor Anthony (PABA) explained, Saint Lucia’s two flower festivals evolved with the participation of the Catholic Church.

The eventual ‘excommunication’ from the church due to the all too real violence that accompanied the enmity of these mock courts, saw further changes, which PABA suggests is partly responsible for the decline in popularity. Social attitudes, shifts in religious denominations, lack of cultural identity, and modern technology were posited as having had further negative impact.

With only nine La Rose and four La Marguerite groups left on the island, it is clear that something must be done. Says CDF Cultural Field Officer George ‘Fish’ Alphonse, “Sometimes I think we are celebrating something we do not understand. Now is the time. Now is the time to intervene, or else ‘bal fini’.”

Barbara Duboulay, CDF’s Programmes Coordinator (Schools) says the need is for greater involvement of young people. She was supported by Kentillia Louis, Curriculum Officer for Secondary Schools, who noted the resistance in incorporating the Flower Festivals in schools.

Dame Pearlette, formerly lecturer and principal of Sir Arthur Lewis Community College, insists that sensitisation must start at the Teachers Training College. If teachers do not know or are even passionate about the island’s culture she insists, the effort in schools will continue to be met with little success.

Members of the groups also cited what, in their observations, have contributed to the floral societies decline. Among the causes were competition from mothers’ and fathers’ groups, conflict with the school schedule, lack of knowledge of and interest from the media, the lack and inadequate distribution of resources – financial and human, lack of access to new media and technologies, lack of documentation, the disinterest of youth and the refusal of master chantwѐls and musicians to share their knowledge and skills.

The change in date of carnival, which has it running almost neck and neck with the flower festivals, was also stated as a major challenge by all present. This impacts the preparation time, and divides the attention of sponsors, the media and the public.

The solutions presented at the end of the day seemed to only mirror what was stated by Monsignor Anthony and panellists Bernard Fanis, Agatha Jn. Panel and Frank Norville. This raised the question that if the solutions are so obvious, why has there not been greater progress.

Steps forward included better documentation of the flower festivals, the establishment of a cultural academy to pass on the knowledge and passion for the traditional arts, increased subventions and review of the policy for disbursement of funds from government, improved collaboration of the media, utilisation of new media, increasing engagement of schools, more participation from the church and community volunteers, targeted research on the needs and challenges of different floral societies and greater peer support among the floral societies.

Monsignor Anthony cited works by the likes of Barbara Cadet, Ronald ‘Boo’ Hinkson, Charles Cadet, Derek and Roderick Walcott, Dunstan St. Omer, MacDonald Dixon, Luther Francois and John Robert Lee, which he said has laid a path of cultural engineering of the traditional arts. This he says, makes traditional art forms more accessible to a wider audience and is necessary for their survival.

That cultural cannot depend solely on government was hinted at by the notable absence of Lorne Theophilus; Minister for Tourism, Heritage and the Creative Industries. However the CDF has undertaken to explore various means to reverse the slow decline in the La Rose and La Marguerite festivals, expressions that developed in the creole context and are representative of our national identity.

Consultation on Flower Festivals Saturday

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Castries, Saint Lucia – The Cultural Development Foundation will engage National Flower groups, stakeholders and the general public in a Consultation on the Flower Festivals of Saint Lucia, taking place at Foundation’s Conference Room on Saturday 26th May, 2012 from 9:00 am.

The Foundation will present the current situation of the Flower Festivals, with a view to chart “ A Way Forward” especially as it pertains to policy direction, sustainability and of course to provide guidance for the celebration of the Flower Festivals this year.

 

There are two floral societies in Saint Lucia; La Rose, celebrated on August 30th and La Marguerite, celebrated on October 17th every year. These floral societies express a government/opposition context, stating the desire of the slaves for self government and demonstrating their capacity for such self-government.  Both societies have an exhaustive system of mock administration from a royal family to an army, police force, judiciary, health service, education system, etc.  Each group hold séances, which consists of all night singing and dancing sessions where drinks are sold and various games played.  The Central figure at the séance is the shatwel or lead singer who sustains the spirit and tenor of the evening’s entertainment.

The Consultation on Flower Festivals will be facilitated by Imbert Charles with remarks by the Hon. Lorne Theophilus; Minister for Tourism, Heritage and the Creative Industries and Monsignor Dr. Patrick Anthony. Addressing “The Way Forward” and subsequent discussions will be a panel comprised of Frank Norville, Agatha Jn. Panel, Kennedy “Boots” Samuel and Eric Branford.

The Foundation therefore invites all interested parties and stakeholders to be represented at this consultation on the future of our Flower Festivals. The National Consultation on Flower Festivals on Saturday, 26th May, will commence from 9:00 am at the CDF Conference Room.

For further information please call the Cultural Development Foundation at 453-7385/ 452-1859.

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