Festival in the Workplace Institute launched

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Sharon Williams of The University of the Virgin Islands makes an impromptu dance as Ancient Man, accompanied by Paul K. Lowe performs at the reception. 

Nassau, The Bahamas – Roosevelt Finlayson and Michael Diggiss, co-developer of the Festival in the Workplace (FITW) Process, were joined last week by a group of colleagues and well wishers for the soft launching of the Festival in the Workplace (FITW) Institute.  The Institute has been established to access research expertise to continue the development of the theoretical foundations of FITW and to conduct action research in the organizations where this process is applied.  This research will lead to the development of the first case studies of the comprehensive application of FITW.  The Institute will also be responsible for  the facilitation of an ongoing dialogue among members of the growing FITW community locally and internationally.

The FITW Institute will operate as a non-profit, autonomous entity and membership will be open to individuals and organizations whose work has a common focus with that of the Institute. Membership is expected to come from Universities and Colleges with a strong focus on research in the areas of business, the arts and the social sciences, Chambers of Commerce, Public Service organizations and art based organizations. The College of The Bahamas, the Department of Culture, Doctors Hospital, The University of the Virgin Islands and the Cave Hill School of Business, UWI Barbados have all stepped forward to lend their support to the proper establishment and functioning of the Institute.

FITW takes positive lessons from Junkanoo and the Carnivals of Trinidad and Brazil and its basic aim is to develop an environment in the workplace that stimulates and challenges people to become their most creative, productive and passionate selves.

Michael and Roosevelt have been engaged in a four year study of Junkanoo and the festivals of the region and their main objectives have been to understand how to harness the life giving, creative and transforming power of these festivals and to develop a process of engaging organizations to embrace FITW in a comprehensive manner.

Several local and regional organizations have embraced some elements of FITW including the former Radisson Cable Beach Resort (now Sheraton), Uriah McPhee Primary School and Doctors Hospital.  Also BEC, AG Electric and New Providence Community Church have incorporated some components of the arts and festivals, independent of the FITW concept.

Regionally the CARICOM Secretariat in Guyana was the first to introduce the FITW concept.   Also Dr. Kwame Charles, an associate of MDR teaches a session on FITW in his Executive MBA programme at the UWI Business School in Trinidad.  As a result of Kwame’s sessions Jacquelyn Cheesman, Senior Customer Loyalty Manager with Trinidad’s financial services powerhouse RBTT has begun integrating FITW into her customer loyalty training programmes.

The Launching event was held at the British Colonial Hilton and began with a special blessing for the success of the Institute by Methodist Minister Rev. Philip Stubbs.

This was followed by Opening Remarks by Nicolette Bethel Director of Culture and Mr. Philip Simon, Executive Director of The Bahamas Chamber of Commerce.

Roosevelt Finlayson introduced the Advisory Board followed by remarks of support for  the Institute from Dr. Jeannine Comma, CEO, Cave Hill School of Business, University of the West Indies, Barbados; Peter Block, Partner, Designed Learning; Sharon Simmons on behalf of LaVerne Ragster, President, University of the Virgin Islands and Barry Rassin, President, Doctors Hospital.

The evening ended with Entertainment by Ancient Man who was accompanied on the drum by Paul K. Lowe.

The Advisory Board held its first meeting the next day in the board room of the Chamber of Commerce.

LaVerne Ragster, President of the University of the Virgin Islands (UVI) and a member of the Institute’s Advisory Board said in a statement “UVI is pleased to be part of the Festival in the Workplace initiative.  The project and outcomes support UVI’s objectives to fulfill our core values of collegiality, excellence, inclusiveness and teamwork. We believe it is important to identify the most appropriate ways to allow all employees to fully benefit from and contribute to the achievement of our values.  We look forward to working with you as we bring this initiative to fruition.”

As this is the tenth year from the development of the FITW concept Michael and Roosevelt see the establishment of the Institute as a key strategy to consolidate the work they have done thus far and an important step that would broaden the network and resources available to develop FITW as a globally relevant transformation process.