The Department of Culture is preparing to celebrate the second annual Culture and Tourism Month in November under the theme “Our Heritage, our People, our Cultural Arts! When Culture meets Tourism, we Capture all Hearts.”
The Month is an important collaboration with several partners including the H. Lavity Stoutt Community College, the Virgin Islands Communal Association (VICA), the Association for the Promotion of Arts and Culture (APAC), the BVI Chamber of Commerce and Hotel Association (BVICCHA), and the BVI Tourist Board and Film Commission.
Deputy Premier and Minister for Education, Culture, Youth Affairs, Fisheries and Agriculture, Dr. the Honourable Natalio D. Wheatley stated, “We have a beautiful culture here in the Virgin Islands. We want residents and visitors to experience the wonders of our cultural heritage, our literary arts, our performing arts, and all the developmental activities that surround the preservation and showcasing of our culture. Culture and Tourism Month is the perfect opportunity to do so, and we look forward to widespread attendance and participation.”
The month is expected to commence with an opening ceremony which will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Monday, November 1, and livestreamed via Facebook @BVIGovernment. The opening ceremony will be followed by the BVI’s first ever two-week BVI Literary Festival to be called “BVI Lit Fest.” The BVI Lit Fest includes renowned regional and international literary artists. Culture and Tourism Month also includes the ever popular Cultural Food Fair which will include a schools’ arts fest. Also during the month, VICA will be organising its performance night of dance, song and storytelling while APAC will be bringing back its Delores Christopher Festival of the Arts.
There is also a plethora of workshops for cultural artists and heritage workers. These include the literary arts, visual arts, museums as well as genealogy. Along with, several competitions including poetry and film competitions. The month will culminate with a forum between cultural artists and the tourism industry which will be a collaboration between the Department of Culture and the BVICCHA.
Director of Culture, Dr. Katherine Smith, further explained, “There is such vibrant talent and such a fascinating cultural heritage in the Virgin Islands which can certainly enrich and develop cultural tourism in these islands. Yet, the impact is so much wider than that because developing these creative industries can contribute to human and sustainable development; through these industries people are able to shape their own development and cultural identity thus strengthening social cohesion while at the same time creating jobs and generating economic wealth.”
Speaking specifically to the BVI Lit Fest, Literary Arts Officer, Ms. Anika Christopher stated, “From poets to publishers to book lovers, the Virgin Islands are rich with literary history. The BVI Literary festival provides an opportunity to celebrate our local literature, the literary arts and the creative process through workshops, panel discussions, readings, signings and launches. Our hope with this literary festival is to create a space in which we can engage in deeper, more focused discussions on our cultural identity through literature.”