By Morgan Adderley
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE 2018-2019 Junkanoo season will be expanded from the “traditional two parades” to more than a week of activities, Youth, Sports, and Culture Minister Michael Pintard said Friday.
Mr Pintard and Silbert Ferguson, Junkanoo Corporation New Providence (JCNP) chairman, also discussed the potential development of a National Junkanoo Commission.
This organisation would function as an “overall governing body” for Junkanoo.
Mr Pintard and Mr Ferguson spoke to The Tribune outside the National Junkanoo Conclave, a three-day long forum that allowed stakeholders to give their perspectives on the cultural event.
Of his vision for the 2018-2019 Junkanoo parades, Mr Pintard said: “We are going to move beyond the traditional two parades to having a full festival.”
“[Firstly] You will see certainly more than a week of continuous activities that provides opportunities for revenue generation for communities as well as the groups.”
“It’s conceivable you will see activities, whether it is Roots, Genesis, One Family, Saxons, Valley or Colours, that persons will be able…to go and engage in cultural activities with various groups and in various communities.“
“And so a (Family Islands or overseas) tourist does not have to narrow their travel to the two days that people have been accustomed to. They can come at any point and experience our cultural festival.”
Mr Pintard continued: “Secondly, we have agreed already in (Thursday’s) session, that we should have a Junkanoo song competition that will be properly incentivized.”
“The prizes will be substantial so that we will be able to produce a range of songs you will hear in the parades at the end of the year, in the summer, etc.”
Mr Pintard also said that recommendations have been made to make the festival more participatory. He said that matter would be discussed later that afternoon and decisions made.
In terms of more female leadership and participation in Junkanoo, Mr Pintard said: “The commitment of this Administration is that the country is governed better when the majority of its citizens are playing a role.
“In terms of the gender divide, I believe women are…51% of the population. To the extent that their point of views are not reflected in the final decision-making is the extent to which we are diminished in what we’re doing.”
“And so it’s important to increase the role that women play at the highest level of decision making, in culture in general (and) Junkanoo in particular.
Mr Pintard also called for more youth involvement and leadership in the festival. He said: “There is a difference in generational view of these kinds of parades, and young people tend to be quite innovative in their thinking.”
“They are able to integrate other things they are involved in like new technology, new media, into Junkanoo, to take it to a whole other level.”
“And they can design things, both in terms of approach to parades and festivals as well as costumes, that would attract their peers— (who) happen to be the majority population of the country.”
When asked about the National Junkanoo Commission, both Mr Pintard and Mr Ferguson provided context for this development.
Mr Pintard said: “The Junkanoo community as well as other stakeholders in Junkanoo believe that there is a need for us to continue to develop Junkanoo (firstly) so that it can become a revenue and employment-generating mechanism.”
“(Secondly) that it continues to be an important tool in terms of national development (and]) outreach initiatives in the community.”
“(Thirdly) we believe that we also need to get the public to appreciate the role it plays in solidifying our identity as a people.”
Mr Pintard continued: “In order for Junkanoo to play the role we desire it to play, it’s important to have a number of full-time persons who are concentrating on making sure that the potential of Junkanoo (is reached) in the domestic market as well as its influence in the international market.”
While Mr Pintard commended the efforts of the current groups: The JCNP, National Junkanoo Committee, and his own ministry, he acknowledged: “More is needed”.
He continued: “The view today…is that a Junkanoo Commission or Junkanoo Authority that has the overall responsibility…would give this community an opportunity to realize its potential more effectively.”
“So a decision (has been made to create)…a committee that would have the ability to put together draft legislation, a draft structure, and terms of reference, for such a commission or such an authority.”
Mr Pintard added the size of the Commission will be decided at a later date.
Mr Ferguson underscored the importance of the Junkanoo groups in these decisions. He said: “None of this can happen unless the Junkanoo groups agree. (They) are not here.”
“The last voice on this will be whether they agree in total. We agree in principle here.”
Of Friday’s conclave sessions, Mr Pintard said participation has been “incredible”, highlighting the involvement of the Family Island representatives and younger groups.
He added: “Right now we’re talking about manufacturing. We are presently manufacturing drums, cowbells, and some horns. It is possible to get into whistle manufacturing as well as a number of things that make up our costumes.”
When asked his perspective on the Commission, Mr Ferguson said: “I have an open mind.”
“Whatever propels Junkanoo to its best effort, whatever vehicle that is we are using to go forward, I am all for it.”
Of his hopes for the 2018-2019 parades, Mr Ferguson said: “We go for gold every time… [but] nothing makes this Junkanoo happen unless there is funding for it.”
“If the Commission is going to bring the funding, then we move. But like I said earlier, it’s only the opportunity.”
“Don’t bring me the analogy of Carnival and the Festival commission when you give them $10 million to start. Give Junkanoo $10 million and see what we could do.”