Last update: 11-Dec-2013 3:23 pm
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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A Best Village festival fit for the future
This year the Prime Minister’s Best Village Trophy Competition celebrates 50 years of refining raw talent, 50 years of discovering hidden talent, and 50 years of shaping the culture of T&T.
The competition is an annual developmental programme with a competitive element. Its overall purpose is to discover and develop latent talent and traditions of all village/community Councils, youth groups, women’s groups, sporting and cultural organisations and other groups within communities in T&T.
The Chaguanas Village Council won the first Best Village title in 1963 in the inaugural activity that was conceptualised to build cultural, environmental and sporting skills of people within the context of indigenous traditions.
Objectives of the Prime Minister’s Best Village Competition are: to empower communities; provide an opportunity for communities to be more conscious about their environment and participate in exercises that will enhance their surroundings and at the same time, develop a sense of self-worth; encourage a sense of national pride, community spirit and community upliftment through healthy competition and social interactions; encourage the creativity of our peoples in their food and artistic talents; encourage specifically the retention of the Folk Art and the upliftment of the arts in general; and identify, preserve and record our historical and environmental sites throughout T&T.
The task it now faces is to improve the standard as the competition moves to its Centennial in 2063.
So how does the Best Village Unit plan to move into the 21st century? According to Minister of Community Development Winston Peters: “We have worked with the staff of the Ministry of Community Development, community groups, consultants and the general public to chart a way forward. We understand that IT must be incorporated into the competition. Locally, we want to use IT to be better connected with District Staff and people in communities. We also hope to utilise our Ministry’s Web site, YouTube and Facebook to reach a wider general, regional and international audience. Often people may think that heritage and culture cannot be synonymous with technology. But this synergy is imperative for Best Village to continue to make a real impact.”
Another plan of action for the Prime Minister’s Best Village Trophy Competition is to ensure that all districts have appropriate venues that can be accessed by participants for rehearsal. Over the years, Best Village Groups have moved from practicing in outdoor spaces and homes of group members to performing for Kings, Queens and other heads of government in distant lands. The Ministry of Community Development, since May 24 2010, has opened or refurbished 18 community facilities to help in providing adequate rehearsal spaces.
Each has been equipped with a teak stage, changing rooms and shower facilities for performers. To ensure that they will be accessible to performing groups, committees have been appointed to ensure proper scheduling and equitable use of facilities.
In addition to these plans, to ensure the continued preservation and transmission of local heritage for the next 50 years and beyond, Minister Peters has challenged his Ministry, particularly the Prime Minister’s Best Village Unit, to develop a Best Village Folk Art Learning and Resource Centre.
“This facility will be a place that Best Village can call its own to house its archives and the Folk Culture of T&T,” he said.
“It will be a space to educate locals and foreigners alike about our traditions and heritage through audio visual material, literature, music, song, dance, folk culture and authentic costumes. This Centre will help to inspire persons to become actively involved in learning indigenous arts and transferring this knowledge to others in their communities.
“We also plan to pursue other recommendations that include increasing the staff at the Best Village Unit, increasing national and international exposure for the competition and developing a monitoring and reporting system to track the operations of the programme. This year we will introduce a Community Heroes Award,” Peters said.
For 2013, the traditional Best Village Logo, based on three interlocking cottages that represent the unifying of communities, was replaced with the 50th Anniversary logo.
The commemorative “50” featured on the logo is displayed in gold to represent the golden anniversary of the programme. The five is made up of three people that highlight the people-centred focus of the Prime Minister’s Best Village Trophy Competition. Also incorporated is the original logo that includes the country’s national colours.
From August 26 to 28, culminating on September 1 and 2, the Ministry of Community Development will host the finals of Best Village 2013. Portrayals will include works of Dramatised Literature, Folk Songs and Folk Music by competing village groups.
Themed 50th Anniversary—Celebrating our Achievements and Shaping The Future, the Festival celebrates the evolution of this cultural showcase while ensuring the baton is handed over to the next generation of performers.
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