Despite a few problems and setbacks, The Bahamas’ participation in the Caribbean Festival of the Arts (Carifesta) X in Georgetown, Guyana is a positive learning experience for the country, Minister of State for Culture the Hon. Charles Maynard said.

The Bahamas is slated to host the next Festival in 2010.

“I feel very optimistic about how well we are being received, how well the mix of cultural expressions that we have brought into Guyana is going to make an impact,” Minister Maynard noted.

He explained a few of the challenges on the trip.

“As to be expected, we had our own problems internally that would be tied with moving over 120 people from one country to the next,” Minister Maynard said. “Our container did not arrive, so had to resort to delivery by DHL for some of our items; so some of the items we had intended to present in Guyana are not in Guyana, so we had to improvise in that respect.

“Then we had issues with some of the venues in terms of equipment and so forth; so there were one or two performances who had to be canceled because the proper equipment was not in place.”

Minister Maynard said meantime that the “sneak” performance of Junkanoo at the Grand Market on August 24 went over particularly well.

“It really created excitement amongst the rest of the Caribbean community (in attendance), in terms of seeing our overall presentations as we move along,” he said.

What is most impressive to him about Guyana’s hosting of Carifesta in terms of its organisation of the festival, is the fact that they choose multiple and widespread venues, which gives more Guyanese the chance to experience Caribbean culture beyond the large cities.

“It calls for some of our (Bahamian) performers to drive long distances to perform,” Minister Maynard said. “It think all that builds to the spirit of Carifesta, really, because it is not just all about performing. It is all about a learning experience, a cross-cultural connection, to be able to make sure that your artists not only perform, but also get real exposure to different aspects of what the Caribbean Diaspora is all about.”

“I think that Guyana is an excellent venue for Carifesta and for The Bahamas to match it, in 2010, we would definitely have to utilise our Family Islands as well as New Providence,” he added. “New Providence just would not be big enough to make the kind of impression that would need to be made.”

Minister Maynard said using other Bahamian islands as venues would require partnerships with other entities to ensure that it is possible, particularly in terms of transportation as the host country is responsible for the transportation of all delegations.

“If we want to transport people from one island to the next, it has to be feasible,” he said. “It’s going to call for us to have corporate partners – like the airline industry, like the sealift industry on board to make sure that we can get some of these things done within the budget of the whole hosting of Carifesta.”

Minister Maynard said as he is experiencing Carifesta X, his mind is “continually going” to think of the challenges that The Bahamas is going to face until 2010 to get organised and to make sure that the country makes “the kind of impact” the country would want to make.

He said: “We have a good mixture of people as a part of our delegation who are doing the necessary research while we are here to ensure that we learn from the things that they have done right and the things that they might not have done right; so that we could have the best plan in place to execute properly in 2010.”