28 March 2012, Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Honiara –
Culture in Harmony with Nature is the theme of the biggest cultural event in the Pacific for 2012: the Festival of Pacific Arts, which will be held in Solomon Islands from 1–14 July. This week the Council of Pacific Arts and Culture is meeting in Honiara to update members on the preparations by the Solomon Island Government to host the Festival.
SPC Human Development Programme Manager, Ms Linda Petersen, welcomed council delegates on behalf of SPC Deputy Director-General Ms Fekitamoeloa 'Utoikamanu, who could not attend as she is leading the SPC delegation to Tonga for the funeral of the late King George Tupou V.
The Prime Minister of Solomon Islands, the Hon. Gordon Darcy Lilo, was the official guest of honour at yesterday’s opening of the meeting, which is being held at the Mendana Hotel. In his official remarks, the Prime Minister re-assured members of the Council of his government’s commitment to complete all venues and structures by the end of May.
He continued, ‘My government has committed a substantial financial investment to ensure the biggest Pacific cultural event is successful as the showcase of Pacific arts and culture.
‘In addition, legislation on traditional knowledge and expressions of culture is being worked on currently and we hope this bill will be presented to Parliament for deliberation soon.
‘In the case of Melanesian countries, we have come together to sign a Treaty on traditional knowledge and expressions of culture. This is an example of how we, as Pacific people, can learn from each other in terms of protecting our cultures. Such partnerships are very important and I encourage all of us to cooperate to ensure we protect our ‘gold mine’ from extinction.
As she welcomed the delegates, Ms Petersen reminded the Council of their role as custodians of the Festival: to provide oversight and uphold the esteemed values and founding principles of the Festival. She emphasised the importance of networking amongst cultural organisations and institutions, and noted the participation of the University of the South Pacific, UNESCO and the World Intellectual Property Organisation. She also acknowledged SPC’s working partners in the collaboration leading up to the Festival, as well as the SPC programmes lending support, namely SOPAC, Health, RMC, LRD and the Solomon Island SPC country office.
Mr Robert Au, Festival Director, reported on preparations by the National Organising Committee, echoing the reassurances made the Prime Minister of the completion of all venues and structure in time for the Festival. He described the many challenges faced by the committee in having to build everything from the ground up, securing resources and arranging logistics to achieve their goals.
The Council delegates expressed gratitude to SPC for their assistance and commitment in facilitating preparations for this week’s meeting. A lot of hard work went into planning and preparation for the Meeting.
Issues discussed on the first day included transportation, insurance and security at the Festival. Council members then visited the Festival sites and accommodation for country delegates. The two largest accommodation sites are the King George High School and the Solomon Islands College of Higher Education. The main Festival village and accompanying island fales are almost all complete. The same can be said of the Solomon Islands village, an extensive area with a waterfall and lake as the main focal attraction and where performances will be carried out
The meeting will end on Thursday.
For more information, please contact Elise Huffer, SPC Cultural Adviser: