By Latrishka Thomas
Just three months after a call was issued for volunteers, Carifesta XV has been called off.
This was confirmed by the Chief of Staff in the Office of the Prime Minister, Lionel ‘Max’ Hurst.
The cultural festival was to be staged in Antigua and Barbuda in August 2022 under the theme: ‘One Caribbean, one environment, diverse cultures.’
The week of activities had already been postponed from August 12-22 2021 to August 11-21 2022.
It would have been the first time that the twin island nation had hosted the event, which was
set to attract more than 2,500 participants from across the region, diaspora and Latin America.
Just like the initial postponement, this cancellation is reportedly as a result of continued challenges surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic, and a lack of resources to successfully put on the event.
A statement issued last night by the Carifesta office in St John’s confirmed the “difficult decision” which comes amid the pandemic’s “prolonged devastating impact” on the region’s economy.
Minister for Education, Sports and the Creative Industries, Daryll Matthew, said, “After a careful examination of the current epidemiological and economic circumstances which now exist, this difficult decision was taken by the government of Antigua and Barbuda.
“We are tremendously saddened by this development and reiterate our commitment to this very important regional festival,” he added.
Dr Carla Barnett, Secretary-General at the Caricom Secretariat, conveyed her support for the move.
She said she was grateful to Prime Minister Gaston Browne and his government for the “enthusiasm, commitment to regional integration through culture, and most importantly, the preparatory work over the last year and a half”.
Dr Barnett added that Caricom anticipated that another opportunity would present itself in the future, for Antigua and Barbuda to host the renowned event.