Craft centre, plans move forward for 6th Melanesian arts festival

A pan-pipe group performing at a recent arts festival in Honiara. Photo: www.sv-carina.org

The Art Gallery in Honiara will be the venue for the 6th Melanesian Festival of Arts and Culture next year — the same site where Solomon Islands hosted the inaugural festival in 1998.

Preparations for the festival include the construction of a new craft market centre at the site, which the Ministry of Culture and Tourism’s Director of Culture Dennis Marita said will benefit the country long after the event is over.

He said it is important that the new centre is a permanent structure.

“If you put it up today then tomorrow they take it out, that’s not a legacy,” he said. “That facility, after it hosts the festival, it will remain for the next number of years, and it will continue to serve our artists and our cultural producers.”

The festival will bring more than 2,000 artists from across Melanesia to Honiara from July 1 to July 14.

Based on current budget constraints, Mr Marita said the festival will be centralised in Honiara with some events at Kakabona, Lunga and other nearby locations.

But he said satellite sites could be established in other provinces — at the site of the Kodili Festival in Buala, Isabel Province or near Afio, Small Malaita where the Yam Cultural Festival is held — if that is what the Government decides.

The five Melanesian Spearhead Group members will participate in the festival along with Timor-Leste, West Papua and the Torres Strait Islands of Australia.

Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism Andrew Nihopara said the participation of MSG members reflects the group’s cultural cooperation agreement.

“Common culture that Melanesian countries share is one of the key founding principles of MSG,” Mr Nihopara said. “So in that sense, it’s important that the cultural aspect of MSG is strengthened — not only strengthened but protected.”

By Allen Waitara

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