BRIDGETOWN, Barbados – Government is hoping that the Caribbean Festival of Arts (CARIFESTA) scheduled to be held here from August 17-27 will help take a bite from the crippling foreign exchange deficit.
With some 3,000 artistes from 27 countries expected here for the festival, Minister of Culture Stephen Lashley said it was important to recognize that the cultural industries can bring in much needed foreign exchange.
The authorities anticipate that the refurbished Daphne Joseph-Hackett Theatre, along with the Sir Garfield Sobers Sports Complex, will be a CARIFESTA legacy.
Lashley said some people were already expressing interest in using the refurbished buildings, which could then result “in a viable way to build our foreign exchange earning capacity.
“This is good news, particularly at a time when the economy is going through some fairly difficult challenges. It tells us that with a renewed focus especially on the creative sector, we can do what is necessary to improve our economic ability to manage and go forward,” he said during a tour of the facilities in the company of Permanent Secretary Ruth Blackman, Chairman of National Cultural Foundation (NCF) Cranston Browne, Festival Director Andrea Wells and Managing Administrator Wayne Webster.
The Daphne Joseph Hackett Theatre which officially closed its doors in September 2011 has been refurbished at a cost of $6.9 million, and includes changing rooms for the first time.
Lashley said the redevelopment of the historic structure was a proud moment for those in cultural industries.
“At the end of CARIFESTA we will have a facility that . . . our actors and those involved in the creative business can actually have a home,” he added.