Junkanoo Workshops and Performances Planned for Isle of Wight, UK

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RYDE, ISLE OF WIGHT, United Kingdom – Cultural stakeholders from The Bahamas and the Isle of Wight (IOW) pose, on February 12, 2008, during preparatory meetings concerning Junkanoo performances and workshops on the British island in Spring, 2008.  Pictured, from left, are Carnival Arts Development Officer (IOW) Frankie Goldspink, Arts Learning Manager (IOW) Chris Slann, Assistant Director Cultural & Leisure Services (IOW) John Metcalfe, Manager National Junkanoo Museum of The Bahamas Angelique McKay, Leader Of The Council (IOW) David Pugh, Bahamas Ministry of Tourism-Director Europe/Asia Karen Seymour, Bahamas Ministry of Tourism/ PR United Kingdom Julie Angove, Family Learning Tutor IOW Jane Popov and Community Development Manager IOW Council Lee Matthews.  (Photo/Robin Crossley IOW County Press Photographer)

By ERIC ROSE

RYDE, ISLE OF WIGHT, United Kingdom – Bahamian representatives are currently on the Isle of Wight (IOW) planning and promoting Junkanoo performances and workshops there for Spring 2008.

Project Manager for the exchange and residency programmes and Manager of the National Junkanoo Museum of The Bahamas Angelique McKay said while in Ryde, IOW this week that the project is an opportunity to educate the world about Junkanoo.

“This is one of the goals of the National Junkanoo Museum that is being met,” she said.  “We said that we would create a ‘Museum without Walls’ and that is what we are doing by taking the information to the other side of the world.

“This means more people will get to experience the vibrant culture of The Bahamas and be enticed into making plans to come to The Bahamas.”

Ms. McKay said the project is designed to teach Master Artists the art of Junkanoo, as well as have several workshops for both school children and adults that are interested in the Junkanoo art form.

“We get to build relationships with other countries that are as interested in our culture as we are,” she added.

The Isle of Wight is a 23-mile wide island county of South England in the English Channel and across the Solent from Hampshire.  Since the Victorian era, it has been a popular resort island, known for its “quaint” villages and beautiful scenery.  It is also known for its dinosaur fossils, industry, musical festivals and cultural exchange programmes.

Ms. McKay said the English carnival development team of Frankie Goldspink and Chris Slann visited The Bahamas in 2006 and experienced Junkanoo for the first time. Inspired by what they saw and heard, they formulated a plan to bring Junkanoo to the United Kingdom “to add colour, energy and new skills to parades” to IOW.

While in Nassau, they held meetings with Ms. McKay to enable plans to be drawn up from both sides.  She worked on the particulars for more than a year with the IOW representatives.

Arts Council England, the UK national arts funding body, supported their plans by providing resources to bring artists from The Bahamas to the UK during two visits in April and July 2008.

“Frankie and Chris both work on the Isle of Wight, where the Local Authority is developing the UK’s first dedicated Carnival and Celebratory Arts Learning Centre,” Ms. McKay said.  “The Centre teaches all aspects of carnival and arts including their history, culture and various manifestations all over the world. Junkanoo in The Bahamas was little known and fascinated them both to find out more.”

Bahamian Government Ministers and the Bahamas’ High Commissioner were also invited to attend the Grand Opening of the Centre, which will be centered around the Junkanoo Residency programme.

Ms. McKay said representatives of the Ministry of Tourism and Aviation were also in IOW to ensure that The Bahamas is promoted to the fullest during the exchange.

“This means further exposure for The Bahamas and its culture, further opportunities for Tourism to market The Bahamas and for people begin to see more of the culture of The Bahamas,” Ms. McKay said. “We all know that the Culture of The Bahamas is what brings people back and to The Bahamas.

“This, like I said earlier, is something that we intend to offer at the National Junkanoo Museum of The Bahamas, residency programmes and performances around the world with trained professional Junkanoo Artists, so as to expose the Bahamian culture and market the Bahamas as a culturally-rich destination.”