Culture official urges public support for performing arts

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By Carlena Knight

The Director of Culture, Khan Cordice, has reiterated calls for increased public support for the performing arts and culture.

Cordice, during an interview on Observer AM on Wednesday, used the opportunity to encourage the residents to play a bigger supporting role, although he said some improvement has been made in that front.

“I think that is something that is lacking here. It is growing to some extent but I want to keep encouraging people to support our young people and support our art professionals. It is really important in our development of our culture and of our performing and creative arts industry,” he said. 

His comments stemmed from his department’s recent announcement that it intends to host the first ever Virtual National and Regional Dance Solo Competitions under the theme ‘Dancing Together, Distances Apart’.

The National Competition, slated for Monday, October 26, will form part of the official 2020 Independence Celebrations, while the regional component will be hosted on Tuesday, December 15, 2020.

The Virtual National Dance Solo Competition is open to Antiguans and Barbudans aged 16 to 35 years and participants are encouraged to explore all genres music. They may also integrate spoken word and or percussion as the accompaniment for the performance.

Dancers will be allowed to perform in Caribbean Folk, African, Modern or Contemporary, Street Jazz, Hip Hop and ballet dance disciplines.

One of the pioneers of the event, dance instructor Monifa Browne shared what influenced the dance department to create this event.

“Most of us, as instructors, we have our own schools and our own students that are basically under our wing and we found that with the covid-19 pandemic that is upon us, we have not been able to let them express their talent in the way that the Lord blessed them. So, we came up with the idea [that] since everything is virtual now, why not have a dance competition? Why not bring all our dancers together in this one initiative to show that we are still out there and we are still trying to reach the members of the society and our communities? We have a lot of talented young people in Antigua and Barbuda, so why not give them a chance to showcase it?” Browne said.

Cordice echoed Browne’s sentiments and even shared that this event brings purpose to many dancers who would have been discouraged due to the impact of Covid-19 on the country. He believes this is just another way for the culture department to reach out to the public.

“One of the things that I have been speaking to my staff about over the past couple of months is how we can continue to reach the people of Antigua and Barbuda and also the region. How can we find creative ways to facilitate dance, music, art, creation?” the director said.

“So, this is one of our things, after numerous discussions, that the Dance Department and the Events Department came up with in an effort to find creative and safe ways for dancers to be creative, to still be able to showcase what they are working on and for some of the people that we have been speaking to, they have gone as far as to say that they now feel inspired, they feel like there is some hope because the reality is at this time not many people are performing, not many people are having that means of entertaining other people and this platform gives them that opportunity,” he added.

Only the top three performers will be announced and the winner will then represent Antigua and Barbuda in the Regional Competition, in December.

Interested persons can register online on The Cultural Development Division – Antigua and Barbuda Facebook and Instagram pages. They can also call 562-1723, 562-1724 or 462-5644 for more information.

The deadline for registration is Friday, October16.

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