Caribbean Festival of the Arts – Past, Present and Future

Go Lean Commentary

CU Blog - Caribbean Festival of Arts - Past, Present, Future - Photo 1Picture this: A Multi-disciplinary Arts Festival promoting the best of the best of Caribbean art and artists – musicians, authors, visual artists, dancers, actors, and craftsmen. This is the Caribbean Festival of the Arts or CARIFESTA, an ongoing concern since 1972 with its 13th rendition this summer – see Appendix A below.

With this being the 13th, considering the previous 12 renditions; surely CARIFESTA events are deemed successful.

Surely … but first, there is the need to define success …

  • Return on Investment? Then the answer is No.
  • Patron-Visitor-Tourist Traffic? No!
  • Continuation and growth of the event? No!
  • Acknowledgement that art is important for the promotion of Caribbean culture? Yes.

Why such a duplicitous gauge of success?

In the 45 years since the inaugural event in 1972, CARIFESTA has only been held sporadically and periodically. This year’s event (August 17 – 27, 2017 in Barbados) is only the 13th one in the 45 year history. See the full list of events here:




Carifesta I August 25 – September 15, 1972 Guyana
Carifesta II July 23 – August 2, 1976 Jamaica
Carifesta III 1979 Cuba
Carifesta IV July 19 – August 3, 1981 Barbados
Carifesta V August 22 – 28, 1992 Trinidad & Tobago
Carifesta VI August, 1995 Trinidad & Tobago
Carifesta VII August 17 – 26, 2000 Saint Kitts & Nevis
Carifesta VIII August 25 – 30, 2003 Suriname
Carifesta IX September, 2006 Trinidad & Tobago
Carifesta X Cancelled The Bahamas
Carifesta X August 22–31, 2008 Guyana
Carifesta XI Cancelled The Bahamas
Carifesta XI August 16–26, 2013 Suriname
Carifesta XII August 21–30, 2015 Haiti
Carifesta XIII August 17 – 27, 2017 Barbados

CARIFESTA is a microcosm of what is wrong in the Caribbean: greatest address on the planet in terms of terrain, culture and talent, but deficient in economics, security and governance.

Enough already! Here comes change!

The book Go Lean…Caribbean – available to download for free – asserts that the sponsors of the CARIFESTA event, CARICOM or Caribbean Community, is the problem. This regional body, though possessing good intentions, is a failure in its execution of any plan to elevate Caribbean society. The book declares that it is past time to retire CARICOM and replace it with a new, better expression for regional integration. CARICOM has been successful in only one area: getting the region to accept the merits of regional integration and collaboration.

The Go Lean book on the other hand, serves as a roadmap for the introduction and implementation of the technocratic Caribbean Union Trade Federation (CU), ; this is the alternative regional plan for the elevation of Caribbean society – this time for all 30 member-states and the 4 language groups (Dutch, English, French and Spanish).

Within the Go Lean roadmap, there is a mission to apply technocratic efficiencies to better promote and manage events.

Addressing all that is wrong with CARIFESTA, this CU/Go Lean roadmap has these 3 prime directives:

  • Optimization of the economic engines in order to grow the regional economy to $800 Billion and create 2.2 million new jobs.
  • Establishment of a security apparatus to ensure public safety and protect the resultant economic engines.
  • Improve Caribbean governance to support these engines, including a separation-of-powers between the member-states and CU federal agencies.

The book stresses that reforming and transforming the Caribbean societal engines must be a regional pursuit. This was an early motivation for the roadmap, as pronounced in the opening Declaration of Interdependence (Pages 12 – 14):

xi. Whereas all men are entitled to the benefits of good governance in a free society, “new guards” must be enacted to dissuade the emergence of incompetence, corruption, nepotism and cronyism at the peril of the people’s best interest. The Federation must guarantee the executions of a social contract between government and the governed.

xxi. Whereas the preparation of our labor force can foster opportunities and dictate economic progress for current and future generations, the Federation must ensure that educational and job training opportunities are fully optimized for all residents of all member-states, with no partiality towards any gender or ethnic group. The Federation must recognize and facilitate excellence in many different fields of endeavor, including sciences, languages, arts, music and sports. This responsibility should be executed without incurring the risks of further human flight, as has been the past history.

xxiv.  Whereas a free market economy can be induced and spurred for continuous progress, the Federation must install the controls to better manage aspects of the economy: jobs, inflation, savings rate, investments and other economic principles. Thereby attracting direct foreign investment because of the stability and vibrancy of our economy.

xxxii. Whereas the cultural arts and music of the region are germane to the quality of Caribbean life, and the international appreciation of Caribbean life, the Federation must implement the support systems to teach, encourage, incentivize, monetize and promote the related industries for arts and music in domestic and foreign markets. These endeavors will make the Caribbean a better place to live, work and play.

The Go Lean book provides 370-pages of turn-by-turn instructions on “how” to adopt new community ethos, plus the strategies, tactics, implementations and advocacies to execute so as to reboot, reform and transform the societal engines of Caribbean society. One mission of the Go Lean/CU roadmap is the plan to remediate the eco-system for the arts and artists in the Caribbean. The book considers best-practices from around the world in formulating an economic model for funding…

… there are many multi-disciplinary arts festivals around the world that have a consistent (annual) successful event. How do they fund their operations? Consider one example … in the White Paper highlighted in Appendix B below.

The Go Lean roadmap seeks to foster best-practices for the business eco-system for the arts. This quest has been addressed in many previous Go Lean commentaries; see sample here: Day of Happiness – Music-style Art Walk – It’s a ‘Real Thing’ in Wynwood Art Basel 2016 – A Testament to the Business of the Arts Forging Change: Arts & Artists The New Smithsonian African-American Museum Media Arts Case Study: Farewell to ‘Sábado Gigante’ Post-Mortem of Inaugural Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival The African Renaissance Monument in Dakar, Senegal, Africa Caribbean Artist Role Model – Oscar De La Renta – RIP How ‘The Lion King’ roared into Show-Business history

While this commentary is a rebuke of previous governing oversight for the last 12 events over the 45 years, the movement behind this Go Lean roadmap wishes nothing but the greatest success for this 13th rendition of CARIFESTA later this summer. According to the Related Articles in Appendix C, good progress is being made in preparation for this year’s event.

CU Blog - Caribbean Festival of Arts - Past, Present, Future - Photo 2

CU Blog - Caribbean Festival of Arts - Past, Present, Future - Photo 3

Hopefully CARIFESTA organizers have learned lessons and applied best-practices for the execution of this year’s event. Caribbean artists deserve every opportunity to foster their talents. They deserve an optimized business eco-system both locally and regionally. Then there are the patrons (visitors, attendees and spectators), these ones too deserve every opportunity to fully explore the best of the best of Caribbean arts and artists.

The Go Lean roadmap demands a better future for regional artists and artistic events; here is a sample list – from the book – of the many community ethos, strategies, tactics, implementation and advocacies for better events:

Community Ethos – People Respond to Incentives Page 23
Community Ethos – Return on Investments Page 24
Community Ethos – Cooperatives Page 25
Community Ethos – Ways to Impact the Future Page 26
Community Ethos – Ways to Foster Genius – Performance Excellence Page 27
Community Ethos – Ways to Improve Sharing Page 35
Community Ethos – Ways to Promote Happiness Page 36
Community Ethos – Ways to Impact the Greater Good Page 37
Strategy – Customers – Business Community Page 47
Strategy – Customers – Visitors / Tourists Page 47
Strategy – Competitors – Event Patrons Page 55
Separation of Powers – Emergency Mgmt. Page 76
Separation of Powers – Tourism Promotion Page 78
Separation of Powers – Sports & Culture Administration Page 81
Separation of Powers – Fairgrounds Administration Page 83
Separation of Powers – Turnpike Operations Page 84
Steps to Implement Self-Governing Entities Page 105
Ways to Foster Cooperatives Page 176
Ways to Improve Intelligence Gathering Page 182
Ways to Improve [Service] Animal Husbandry Page 185
Ways to Enhance Tourism Page 190
Ways to Impact Events Page 191
Ways to Promote Fairgrounds Page 192
Ways to Impact Hollywood [& Media Industry] Page 203
Ways to Improve Transportation – Elaborate Ferry Network Page 205
Ways to Preserve Caribbean Heritage Page 218
Ways to Improve the Arts Page 230
Ways to Promote Music Page 231

Now is the time to lean-in for this roadmap to reform and transform the Caribbean; we can make our homeland a better place to live, work and play for all stakeholders, artists and art lovers alike. 🙂

Download the free e-Book of Go Lean … Caribbean – now!

Sign the petition to lean-in for this roadmap for the Caribbean Union Trade Federation.


Appendix A – Caribbean Festival of Arts Wiki Page

Caribbean Festival of Arts, commonly known as CARIFESTA, is an international multicultural event organized on a periodic basis by the countries of the Caribbean. The main purpose is to gather artists, musicians, authors, and to exhibit the folkloric and artistic manifestations of the Caribbean and Latin American region.


The first Caribbean Festival of Arts took place in 1972. This event was organized by Guyana’s then President Forbes Burnham, based on a similar event that took place in Puerto Rico in 1952. He held a number of conferences with Caribbean artists and writers that eventually led to the first Carifesta.

CARIFESTA was conceived out of an appeal from a regional gathering of artists who were at the time participating in a Writers and Artists Convention in Georgetown, Guyana, in 1970 and which coincided with Guyana’s move to Republican status.

The three main considerations with regard to the

  • The Festival should be inspirational and should provide artists with the opportunity to discuss among themselves techniques and motivations
  • It should be educational in that the people of the Caribbean would be exposed to the values emerging from the various art forms and it should relate to people and be entertaining on a scale and in a fashion that would commend itself to the Caribbean people
  • The regional creative festival was first held in Georgetown, Guyana in 1972, attracting creative artistes from over 30 Caribbean and Latin American countries.

It is a celebration of the ethnic and racial diversity which separately and collectively created cultural expressions that are wonderfully unique to the Caribbean.

The cultural village life of CARIFESTA is intended to be a mixture of the States of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM); the wider Caribbean, Latin America; and a representation of Africa, Asia, Europe and North America It is a vision of the peoples with roots deep in Asia, Europe and Africa, coming together to perform their art forms and embracing literature inspired by the Caribbean’s own peculiar temperament; paintings drawn from the awe inspiring tropical ecology; and the visionary inheritance of our forefathers


According to the CARICOM Organisation, CARIFESTA aims[1] to:

  • depict the life of the people of the region – their heroes, morale, myth, traditions, beliefs, creativeness, ways of expression.
  • show the similarities and the differences of the people of the Caribbean and Latin America
  • create a climate in which art can flourish so that artists would be encouraged to return to their homeland.
  • awaken a regional identity in Literature.
  • stimulate and unite the cultural movement throughout the region.

Described as something of an artistic and cultural “Olympics” observed by both regional and international states, the festival includes both a cultural opening and closing ceremony with many diverse events in between, including:

  • Drama – ranging from elaborate musical productions to comedy, fantasy, ritual, history, folk plays and legend.
  • Music – concerts, recitals and musical shows provide tantalising folk rhythms, soul-searching jazz, as well as pop, classics and ballet. There are Indian tablas, African drums, Caribbean steel pan, piano, violin, flute and guitar – in other words, music for every taste.
  • Visual Art – exhibitions of sculpture, graphics, paintings, drawings, and photographs are a visual testimony of each country’s art forms.
  • Literature – an anthology of new writing from the Caribbean region is produced for CARIFESTA, and authors often launch their works at the festivals. There are also poetry recitals and lecture discussions at universities and Conference centres.
  • Folklore – groups from over a dozen countries reveal the colour and the mystery of Caribbean and Latin American folklore and legend, among them the Conjunto Folklorico Nacionale of Cuba, the Ol’Higue and Baccos of Guyana, Shango dancers from Trinidad, Shac Shac musicians from Dominica.
  • Crafts – among the unusual events at CARIFESTA will be live demonstrations of ceramics, wood carving, painting and drawing.
  • Dance – this part of the programme is all-embracing and covers courtly Javanese dancing, intricate ballet, earthy folk plays, dramatic modern choreography, classical Indian movements, spontaneous improvisations and pop.
  • Heritage Exhibitions – host countries such as Guyana and Suriname that boast diverse heritage showcase cultural exhibits and anthropological studies of the indigenous people.
  • Family Life – CARIFESTA usually includes “Kid Zones” and family workshops to educate and entertain families.

Source: Wikipedia Online Encyclopedia – Retrieved June 26, 2017 from:


Appendix B – Report Snippets: Multidisciplinary Arts: Approaches to Funding


This report summarizes the findings of the International Federation of Arts Councils and Culture Agencies’ (IFACCA) 38th D’Art question on approaches to funding multidisciplinary arts, which was developed and conducted jointly by the Canada Council for the Arts (CC) and the Australia Council for the Arts(AC).1

The survey was distributed via IFACCA to approximately 75 international arts councils and related bodies in early March 2009. Twelve funding bodies responded fully to the survey, including 10 national funding bodies and two municipal funders for a response rate of 16%. Therefore this survey should only be considered as a sample or snapshot of approaches to funding multidisciplinary arts.


The consultants have based their analysis on the complete sample of responses to D’Art question 38. A total of 13 responses were received from public funders in 10 countries. …

The countries included in the analysis of this report therefore include: Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, England, Finland, Sweden, Cuba, Colombia. (A list of survey respondents is included in Annex 1).



Overall, definitions of multidisciplinary arts are broad and inclusive, with an emphasis on the presence of more than one discipline, which may extend beyond the arts, in a single artistic process, product or a larger event. Some funders make a distinction between multidisciplinary arts activity that combines multiple disciplines in one activity, and interdisciplinary arts, typically describing an emergent practice, exploratory or integrative process.

Some funders are interested in developing sustainable communities, and encourage indigenous and community arts practices, such as Maori or Malay arts or circus arts.

Some funders internationally provide support to new media through separate programs, though most acknowledge that interdisciplinary artists may also use new media. In some countries, support for multidisciplinary arts extends as well to new critical practices, and to Aboriginal or other culturally diverse art forms.

Most funders responding to the survey indicated that they use peers to assess funding applications. Assessment criteria can be either specially tailored to multidisciplinary arts, or be more general, and may include artistic merit, viability, impact, artistic development and strategic considerations.

Among responders who reported on their resource allocations, resources earmarked for multidisciplinary arts range from 3% of total granting budgets to 11%.

Source: Posted by the  International Federation of Arts Councils and Culture Agencies in November 2009; retrieved June 26, 2017 from:’Art38Multidisciplinary.pdf


Appendix C – Related Articles


May 11, 2017 – Programme Manager for Culture and Community Development at the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat, Dr. Hilary Brown, said that Barbados was “on a good track so far”, as it prepared to host the Region’s largest arts festival from August 17 to 27.



Bridgetown, Barbados, May 30, 2017 – Musicians from around the region will have the unique opportunity to display their talent for International buyers and promoters when the CARIFESTA XIII Music Showcase comes off at the Grand Market and Buyers Shopping Mall at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre (LESC) from August 19th to 26th 2017.

Another innovation for CARIFESTA XIII, this showcase offers the opportunity for Caribbean original works of music to be performed before a number of international music buyers who have been especially invited to the Festival to expose them to the vast array of talented musicians we have among us in this region.


June 13,2017 – 21 National Delegations are confirmed for Carifesta 2017; 17 Caricom, 1 Dutch Caribbean, 1 French Caribbean, 1 Central Latin American, 1 South American. We welcome Venezuela as the newest addition!

Antigua & Barbuda
Cayman Islands
Curacao -Dutch Caribbean
Guadeloupe- French Caribbean
Nicaragua- Central American
St. Lucia
St. Vincent & the Grenadines
Trinidad & Tobago
Turks & Caicos

INDEPENDENT GROUPS from Antigua, St.Lucia, Trinidad & Tobago, USVI, and the Diaspora in Canada have also registered. See you from August 17-27! #CarifestaXIII #Barbados #summer2017 #thesummerofculture

See the promotional VIDEO here:


VIDEO – CARIFESTA XIII Barbados Presentation & Welcome –

Published on June 27, 2017 – CARIFESTA XIII Barbados Presentation and welcome from Caribbean Soca Queen Alison Hinds.

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