SA: Creecy: World Carnival Commission Conference (10/02/2008)

10th March 2008 By: Site Administrator - Main Preditor Administrator

Date: 10/02/2008
Source: Department of Sport and Recreation
Title: SA: Creecy: World Carnival Commission Conference

Opening address by MEC Barbara Creecy at the second World Carnival Commission (WCC) Conference, Johannesburg South Africa

Mr Henry Antoine President World Carnival Commission
Our international speakers
Mr Micheal Roberts
Mr Pax Nindi
Mrs Gemma Raeburn
Ms Gemma Jordan
Mr Finbar Ryan
Mr Stephen Derek
Dr Ahmed Yerima
Ladies and gentlemen

On behalf of the Department of Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation, I am delighted to welcome you all to the second World Carnival Commission Conference here at the newly renovated Johannesburg Stadium/Ellis Park World of Events.

It is fitting that this conference is being held in Gauteng. It gives us the opportunity to showcase Gauteng's creativity, whilst bringing delegates from around the world together to discuss key issues on carnival. We believe carnival has the potential to impact significantly on our creative economy. In addition, we will be able to explore the carnival art form, based on our collective knowledge base, our shared experience and the recognition of what has worked for carnivals across the world.

In Gauteng we are fortunate to host a vibrant creative community, representing 40% of all cultural activity in the country. To maximise the impact of this resource, the Gauteng Provincial Government has approved the Creative Industries Development Framework. This framework works hand-in-hand with our growth and development strategy and our global city region initiative. A critical objective is to increase communication and co-operation between creative communities, creative workers, creative industries and ourselves. We believe an event such as the World Carnival Conference will assist us to achieve this objective.

Our own Pale Ya Rona Carnival has become an important social and cultural event on the Gauteng calendar. The carnival was launched in 2005 under the theme "telling our story" or "ours to tell", and it has encouraged creative mass participation of all our communities.

Our Pale Ya Rona Carnival has demonstrated the power of carnival to build communities. We believe that carnival has the capacity to cross boundaries and create a rejuvenated sense of community. The carnival event is empowering as it provides otherwise marginalised groups and individuals with an opportunity to express themselves creatively, to interact with other creative individuals and entities, and to perform and thus be seen and heard for perhaps, the first time.

Carnival also provides a forum for the exploration and expression of multiple cultural histories and identities. It provides a contemporary sense of place. Through this process the socio-cultural transformation in contemporary South Africa can be linked to other carnivals across the world.

Carnival is a flagship for a range of cultural forms. It combines both the performing and visual arts in one of the largest participatory showcases possible. It is a celebration of the collective identity and memory, in which life and art are intertwined.

Our speakers over the next three days will show how carnival is used globally as a celebration of history by communities. They will share with us how carnival is used by communities to re-invent and re-image themselves, by building on the traditions and the stories of the past. Throughout the world, carnival has become a creative and colourful way for communities to voice their social and artistic aspirations. Such creative expression often also reaps economic benefits which will be explored more by our speakers on Tuesday.

Gauteng Provincial Government has also recognised the potential of carnival to transform lives and local economies. I am particularly proud of our own Pale Ya Rona Carnival. It is very young, compared to the well established carnivals of the world, but it maximises community development and participation, and has developed into a carnival which reflects our perception of a truly South African or Gauteng experience.

Our carnival program is broad-based and decentralised, and the cornerstone is regional participation. It enjoys representation from all the metros and district municipalities. Participants are drawn from across the province and groups are auditioned and selected to ensure the inclusion of regional identities that add to the flamboyance of the final parade.

The Pale Ya Rona Carnival has over the last few years demonstrated the capacity of carnival to combine the arts, skills development and confidence-building in communities across Gauteng. We endeavour, through our integrated recreational hubs across the province, to harness the potential economic impact of the carnival as well as its potential to be a key driver for creative industries skills development.

Our Pale Ya Rona carnival implementation plan includes a large scale skills transfer program that aims to develop a pool of skilled carnival artists. The carnival process provides the perfect platform for skills development, as it introduces a myriad of new opportunities for youth from diverse backgrounds who might not otherwise engage in a creative discipline.

Carnival incorporates the application of a diverse range of creative industries skills from costume design and manufacture to the technicalities of putting a sound system 'on the road'. Carnival also has the potential for a range of creative industries sectors to add value to, and learn from, the carnival process. Activities range from the highly specialised, such as wire-bending for costumes, to the basic, such as attaching sequins to a costume. Through the production of the Pale Ya Rona spectacle, youth from diverse backgrounds receive training in pattern-cutting, event management, circus skills and product design.

Each of these activities provides a gateway into the creative industries sector and in this way the carnival production process has been instrumental in facilitating creative skills development for many individuals who might otherwise lack opportunities to pursue careers in the creative industries or to even consider options that were previously beyond their horizons.

This year, in partnership with the Media Advertising Publishing Printing and Packaging (MAPPP-SETA) and Sibikwa Community Arts Centre we will formalise this through the piloting of a Carnival learner ship.

Phyllis Klotz from Sibikwa and Mhlanganisi Masoga from the MAPPP-SETA will tell us more about this on Wednesday when they join Gemma Jordan, who lectures in carnival at Trinity College in Connecticut.

This conference brings together carnival practitioners from all over the world for three days of debate and discussion. Our international speakers all have the experience of working in African Caribbean carnival. Our challenge is to develop a South African Carnival identity which is distinct from those seen elsewhere in Africa, the Caribbean, Europe or Latin America.

Most interesting for South Africa, however, is that in recent decades Carnival has become an international medium, which each community has adapted according to its own history and culture. Carnival is a celebration, in which communities express themselves in an explosion of artistic jugglers, dancers and performers of every type. They bring life to a city as they wind their way through the streets.

Carnival will provide an integrated theme, not only for arts and culture education, but for training in other subjects as well. It will provide an opportunity to address social and historical issues, as well as to ensure the transfer of skills to teachers. This could be achieved alongside the objective of including carnival in the curriculum for schools. With the signing of the Memorandum of Agreement between my Department and the Department of Education, the study of carnival will promote multi-culturalism in education through knowledge of the cultures and histories of different people.

Gauteng has successfully hosted a wide range of international events, some large some small. I am confident that we will not only meet but exceed the expectations of the World Carnival Commission and delegates from across the globe. Bringing the International Carnival Conference to Africa is an essential step forward in recognising the vital role that Africa plays in culture and the critical role that culture plays in uplifting the continent.

I hope that the Carnival Conference provides a stimulating context to network, share knowledge and ideas, and that you enjoy your time in Johannesburg Gauteng.

Issued by: Department of Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation, Gauteng Provincial Government
10 March 2008