Excitement builds for the 5th Melanesian Arts Festival
Excitement builds in Papua New Guinea, as the country prepares to host the 5th Melanesian Festival of Arts and Culture.
Excitement is building in Papua New Guinea, as the country prepares to host the fifth Melanesian Festival of Arts and Culture.
The festival begins on June 28th in Port Moresby and will run for two weeks.
Leilani Momoisea reports:
The overall co-ordinator of the festival's events, Mali Voi, says about 250 people have volunteered for the festival, and large numbers of people from the provinces are expected to flood in. Mr Voi says they've tried to be inclusive of as many people as possible for the festival, and the interest shown throughout all the regions has been huge. He says because PNG has so much cultural diversity, they've extended the festival to outside of Port Moresby.
MALI VOI: We just can't cope with the demand: "we want to come, we want to come, we want to come." We don't want to dominate anyting, with other Melanesians coming. So, what we've done is put four regions to which they will go to, to regionally participate up that way, so they don't crowd Port Moresby here.
Mali Koi says this year there is an emphasis on turning these cultural activities into employment opportunities.
MALI KOI: A lot of people just think that festivals are singing and dancing and extravagance. No, we want to turn it into an investment in opportunities after the festival, that's where the difference is, is we want to turn it into an investment for young people so that they can get into cultural industries.
On Friday, the Solomon Islands delegation held a mini festival show, so the public could see what Solomon Islands will be presenting on their behalf, before the team leaves for Port Moresby. The Deputy Director of the culture division of the Culture and Tourism ministry, Dennis Marita, says this year they want more attention for the rarer aspects of Solomon Islands culture, like the Santa Cruz Nelo dancers.
DENNIS MARITA: We just wish to put more emphasis on this particular culture, in terms of the costume, dancers and of course the language that they speak is quite unique and I think that's something that will be new for this festival.
Dennis Marita says after hosting the Festival of Pacific Arts a couple of years ago, a lot more people, including the government, are recognising the positive impact of such events.
DENNIS MARITA: It has helped to transform our society from one particular stage to the other, not only in terms of the economy, not only in terms of people's understanding and appreciation for the potential and the values and importance of cultures and arts, but also in terms of people's nature and attitude.
The Vanuatu delegation was still waiting for last minute funding to be confirmed to be able to attend the festival. However, the Director of the Vanuatu Cultural Centre, Marcellin Abong, says he's confident funding will come through. He says they intend to send 83 people to Port Moresby.
MARCELLIN ABONG: t will be a good promotion for Vanuatu to share this cultural experience with Melanesian brothers and sisters, and also economically beneficial for Vanuatu as Vanuatu has much natural resoures, but the culture is one of the mana, so we have to exploit it for the economic benefit of this nation.
Organisers add that the Melanesian Festival of Arts and Culture serves as a great build-up towards the 12th Festival of Pacific Arts in 2016.
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