Author: Jeevan A. Robinson - MNI Media | Date: 05 August 2019
It's more of this type of exposure that needs to take place to truly expose Montserrat consistently as a culturally rich island with various forms of such expressions for the regional and international community to enjoy.
Since Arrow passed who has truly been the cultural flag-bearer for the Emerald Isle?
Receiving the information that a contingent of masqueraders from the three local groups on Montserrat left the island on Sunday for Antigua, to participate in carnival festivities there, was welcomed news. Masquerade dancers who travelled to Antigua are said to be from the newly formed Cudjoe Head Masquerades, the Lady Masquerades and the Emerald Shamiole Masquerades.
Often, Montserrat's citizens become busy talking about Montserrat's resurgence and visibility in closed social media circles with little to show by way of action and examples to truly showcase what Montserrat is truly about. That thought has been most prevalent on my mind, as it struck me that islands across the Caribbean have tied their economic prominence with their cultural exuberance and marketing of their culture outside of the local boundaries.
Many years ago MNI Media wrote similarly that Montserrat's real economic catalyst can be fashioned from a national programme of cultural identity being packaged and better exposed to the world. I even recall taking part in a consultative discussion on Culture that was headed/chaired by one of Montserrat's intellectual luminaries. However, whatever happened to that report and its findings/recommendations is still a wonder.
By way of an example, we already know what has been done by both the Jamaicans and the Trinis with their cultural exports via music, food, and theatre. However, MNI sees St Vincent and Grenada have taken their jab jab music and made it marketable, that it is a feature all over the Diaspora and people are now, via that musical expression, learning more and becoming curious about these islands. Grenada's Spice Mas is now a big thing on the tourism calendar!
Look also what The Bahamas have done in taking their Junkanoo cultural expression and made that into not just a local festival, but also a culturally exportable product that translates into tourism numbers and dollars for that country's economy.
It is understood that the Montserrat Arts Council were the ones who facilitated the request of the Antigua Carnival Commission to send up to 25 masquerades to participate in the two days of street parades in Antigua.
Furthermore it was mentioned that the Minister of Finance, Premier Romeo, who is himself an avid masquerade supporter, sourced the funds for the trip from his miscellaneous projects funds. Additional funds were contributed by the Tourism Division. The Antigua Government is providing transportation and accommodations for the Montserrat delegation at Hawksbill by Rex Resorts.
This development is a positive, and one that should serve as a further platform to really take those unique aspects of Montserrat's culture and seek to give them that packaging as products that can help the local participants to earn a living or some supplementary income; provide marketing exposure for Montserrat; and contribute as a economic pillar for the island.
Note: Jeevan A. Robinson is Editor-in-Chief of Marketing, News & Information Media - MNI Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org