The Virgin Islands Party (VIP) administration appears to be setting the tone for the upcoming annual Emancipation Festival in August by promising to focus more on culture and pumping more prize money into various music competitions.
Premier and Minister of Finance, Hon. Andrew Fahie stated that in 2021, the plan is to reset the clock in 2020 as it relates to 'our reinvigoration of our culture'.
"Emancipation Festival is a cultural thing. And we have to craft our Festival celebrations as a vehicle to bring our Virgin Islands culture back to the centre. We have to use what is in our hand with activities such as tart competitions, peas and rice competition, and so forth," the Premier said in his new year's address to the Territory.
He added, "If we don't bring back our Culture then we have nothing. So, it is not about Festival but rather our Culture. Our Culture is what took us out of slavery through the drums and the dancing."
The Premier stated that to provide some extra motivation to local artistes, there will be singing competitions in a number of categories with attractive prizes.
He shared that there will be competitions for Soca Monarch and Calypso King. There will also be a Local Gospel competition - both for groups and for individuals.
The Minister of Finance stated that in each of the four competitions being planned the first prize will be $20,000. Second prize will be $15,000 and third prize will be $10,000.
The prize for Road March this year will be $20,000.
"I want to encourage all of our creative composers, singers and musicians to get to work as we aim to put our best talent on display. As they are accustomed to doing, we look forward to the business community helping us to fund these initiatives which are aimed at our cultural development," Premier Fahie noted.
He added, "This is a very important step for us in 2021, and your Government is putting everyone on notice from now, so that we will be able to promote it heavily through the BVI Tourist Board, among other private and public agencies. We must, of course, bear in mind that our plans depend on the way we contain COVID
-19 in 2021. But, we must push ahead with confidence and we must do the planning to ensure success."