NASSAU, Bahamas – The launch of the E. Clement Bethel National Arts Festival is a “most significant announcement” of The Bahamas’ cultural calendar year, Minister of State for Culture the Hon. Charles Maynard affirmed on March 5, 2009.
“We officially launched the Festival last month in Grand Bahama,” Minister Maynard said at the announcement press conference. “We chose Grand Bahama because for the past two years in particular, Grand Bahama has made its present felt at the E. Clement Bethel National Arts Festival by winning the lion’s share of the trophies.”
Minister Maynard said that in 2007 and 2008, the Bishop Michael Eldon School won the Governor General’s Award, the highest in the Festival.
Lady Neville, wife of Royal Governor Robert Neville, introduced the festival in 1959 as a music festival.
“It has evolved into a full-fledged national arts festival and has, in a subtle way, contributed to our cultural development as a people,” Minister Maynard said.
He added that although the Festival has gone through many changes and additions since its inception, there are very few programmes that have had a greater impact on the Bahamian people than the Festival, which was appropriately renamed in honour of a “Bahamian cultural giant” E. Clement Bethel.
“The National Arts Festival has been an inspiration for some of our finest Bahamian artists in music, dance, drama and arts and craft, throughout the length and breadth of our Commonwealth” Minister Maynard said.
He added that as the Festival celebrates its 50th year, there will be a showcasing of festival winners from throughout the years.
“We have begun by using past winners as adjudicators,” Minister Maynard said. He also announced the 2009 Festival adjudicators.
Mrs. Audrey Dean-Wright will adjudicate for Choral and Instrumental Music. She is a composer, singer, choral conductor, lecturer and poet.
“Her educational background is extensive,” Minister Maynard said. “She studied music and piano skills with mentor Mr. E. Clement Bethel himself, and also studied piano with Meta Davis-Cumberbatch.”
Mrs. Dereka Deleavuax-Grant will adjudicate Dance. She has certificates in Music and Dance from Trinity College of Music, The Royal Academy of Music and the Royal Academy of Dance. She is a trained teacher and has a Master of Arts Management Degree from Columbia College Chicago.
“She is a talented teacher and has taught and worked for such companies as the Music Theatre Workshop in Chicago, Illinois; New York Offstage, in New York; and Malone Studios, Nashville Tennessee,” Minister Maynard said. “She is also the Assistant Director of Culture at this time.”
Mr. James Catalyn will adjudicate Drama. He studied drama at De’ Paul University in Chicago, Illinois.
“Mr. Catalyn has brought Bahamian culture to the forefront by his prolific writing and performance on stage, radio and throughout the islands of The Bahamas,” Minister Maynard said. “James’ insistence that we speak “Bahamianese” has made many of us more aware of the beauty and uniqueness of Bahamian dialect.”
Mr. Eddie Minnis will adjudicate Arts & Crafts. He was educated at St. John’s College and the Government High School in Nassau. He graduated from McGill University, Montreal Canada in 1971 with a B.Sc. degree in Architecture.
“Eddie is a self-taught artist and his paintings are strikingly three-dimensional in appearance and vibrate with the bright colour and light of The Bahamas,” Minister Maynard said. “He has participated in numerous group shows, both locally and abroad. His paintings are in private collections in many parts of the world including the U.S., Britain, Australia, Canada and Korea.”
Minister Maynard added that the Department of Culture, in conjunction with Friends of the Festival, also plan to compile an anniversary digest of 50 past winners of the Festival, in all genres.
“We anticipate that these past winners will be a great testimony of the success in the Festival programme,” he said. “These are persons whose achievements will inspire and renew interest in the Festival, so we will seek them out and let them sing the songs of success of the E. Clement Bethel National Arts Festival.”
“The adjudications for this particular Festival will begin this coming Monday, March 9, 2009 in Abaco, and will continue throughout the Bahama Islands and New Providence until the end of May,” Minister Maynard added. “We will promote each Family Island adjudication as we move from place to place, so that the public in each island community can come out and support their participants in their communities on the dates when adjudications are taking place.”
NASSAU, The Bahamas – Minister of State for Culture the Hon. Charles Maynard (centre) announces the adjudicators and plans for the E. Clement Bethel National Arts Festival, on March 5, 2009. Also pictured, from left, are Drama Adjudicator Mr. James Catalyn and Acting Director of Culture Mr. Eddie Dames. (BIS Photo / Derek Smith)