EDITORIAL: NIFCA needs a home
For the last 40 years Barbadians have been expressing themselves, sometimes critically, often humourously, while mirroring who we are by way of the National Independence Festival of Creative Arts (NIFCA). It has been a true reflection of the Barbados cultural landscape.
Understandably, cultural visibility in this island did not start with NIFCA, as there were many laudable efforts prior to the advent of this annual event.
The big difference, however, has been that, thanks to the National Cultural Foundation (NCF), this festival has allowed the best of our artists drawn from the communities across the island to showcase their talents in dance, drama, music, art, photography and culinary skills.
Perhaps, it is because NIFCA has attracted primarily the amateurs rather than professional artists that it has been so broad-based and well received in a society which can be particularly harsh on those displaying their creative talents. The truth is that NIFCA has unearthed significant artistic quality over the years, both of those upfront and in the spotlight as well as many who work tirelessly to ensure the best product is consistently highlighted.
It has provided opportunities for expression for our people at the community level who may otherwise have been overlooked and ignored. We have seen participants over the years who have been not only dreamers but also doers; they have offered us different perspectives to look at ourselves and things in the society more critically.
Yes, NIFCA has had its successes and the NCF must duly reap the praise. But this highly anticipated affair has also failed in helping to deliver certain results that should have been concomitant with its achievements.
Facilities for the staging of the arts – ranging from concerts halls to theatre facilities – are still too limited and so is the need for a national art gallery. The supporting technical skill needs in areas such as lighting and sound and, more importantly, set design have not been adequately addressed with many people still not appreciating their importance.
Regrettably, with the economy in a continual state of decline, financial support for the arts is often the first cut made by businesses looking to tighten their social outreach budgets.This year the titled sponsor, LIME, had to drastically reduce its long-standing support for NIFCA.
Fortunately, other corporate entities have recognized the benefits of making a strategic investment in creative people, the existing infrastructure and indeed the benefits to the entire community. Scotiabank and Sagicor must be lauded for getting onboard.
The last four decades have offered indications of a Barbadian cultural renaissance. Our community has been made better by the arts, whether at Crop Over or NIFCA. We must support this aspect of the arts, having excellence always as the hallmark. It can inspire, stimulate our minds and help us to further evolve as a country.