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Culture Minister eyes Junkanoo festival

Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Dr Danny Johnson said plans are on the drawing board to improve Junkanoo in Grand Bahama, and a part of that plan is to create an eight-week festival season in The Bahamas. (stock photo)

Monday, January 9, 2017
Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Dr. Danny Johnson said plans are on the drawing board to improve Junkanoo in Grand Bahama, and a part of that plan is to create an eight-week Junkanoo season in The Bahamas.

“That means, this would create multiple opportunities on various islands for more creative work,” added Minister Johnson, during an interview with the media at Grand Bahama’s New Year’s Junkanoo parade in downtown Freeport.

“We would like to see the Grand Bahama parade grow and get better, and from what I’ve seen here at this parade thus far, the quality of work has already sky-rocketed.”

Minister Johnson noted that what was done to develop sports tourism in The Bahamas, must now be the focus in developing cultural tourism. He said that he and Tourism Minister Obie Wilchcombe are working as one to make this dream a reality.

“Look at all of the accomplishments we’ve had together in terms of sports tourism in The Bahamas, including Popeye’s Bowl, the Tiger Woods Classic, the IAAF World Track and Field Relay Championships, FIFA World Soccer and more. It’s to the point where we now have a year-round sporting calendar for The Bahamas. And we now have to do the same for culture and the arts,” added Minister Johnson.

“So the move now is to take these events such as Junkanoo and make them festivals so that every time our tourists come to our shores they could be informed of some cultural festival that we are having in The Bahamas and Junkanoo will be a big part of that. “

As a part of helping take Junkanoo to the next level in Grand Bahama and throughout the country, Minister Johnson pointed to the fact that the government has increased seed money for groups, which goes towards helping to defray some of the expenses of putting together costumes and pieces of art for each parade.

“We’re making sure that the partners who are also involved in Junkanoo are also making increases in their contributions,” said Minister Johnson. “The success of the art form of Junkanoo though is really up to the groups. We cannot get involved in that aspect of it. Although, I’m convinced, the Junior Junkanoo programme continues to be stronger and stronger.

Minister Johnson said that although certain aspects of Junkanoo are already being exported abroad, new ways of getting the essence of Junkanoo around the world must be found. For example, he noted that while Junkanoo has been exported through the means of video, social media and by CD, there must be a way to take the physical aspect of Junkanoo around the world at a minimal cost.

“As far as the commercial exportation of Junkanoo is concerned, that’s a challenge for us because you can’t send a thousand people off around the world to do this for couple hours at a time and come back,” said Minister Johnson.

“So, to package it and export it in its fullness will take another generation of thinkers and creative people to take Junkanoo to the world.”

The Grand Bahama Chamber of Commerce held its first meeting of its new board of directors January 4, where the new slate of business leaders reviewed its work of the past year and began to lay out its plans for 2017.

The private Bahamian destination of Princess Cays has been added to the itineraries of six different Carnival Cruise Line ships beginning in May 2017. Carnival Cruise Line ships are expected to make 40 calls to Princess Cays in 2017 and 98 the following year.

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