The 10th Festival of Pacific Arts officially ended yesterday evening (30 July 2008) with a spectacular Samoan fire dance and magnificent fireworks display.
For the past 10 days, artists from 22 Pacific island countries and territories have displayed arts forms ranging from the visual and performing arts to traditional architecture and navigation and canoeing.
Co-chair of the American Samoan 10th Festival Organising Committee, Mr Fagafaga Daniel Langkilde, says hosting the festival has brought out the strength and pride of the people of American Samoa.
The official closing ceremony was held at the Veterans Memorial Stadium in American Samoa. It began with a parade of delegates from the 22 Pacific countries taking part in the festival.
In keeping with the festival theme "Su'iga'ula a le Atuvasa: threading the Oceania ula", a human ula wove its way around the stadium encircling members of participating countries. (The ula or necklace is an adornment representing celebration.) The ula was symbolically completed with an exchange of ula between the Co-chair of the 10th Festival Organising Committee, Ms Leala Pili of American Samoa, and the Honourable Seth Gukuna, Solomon Islands Minister for Culture.
Solomon Islands will host the 11th Festival of Pacific Arts in 2012. Mr Gukuna said the challenge for his country now was to ensure the next festival was a success so that Pacific arts and culture continued to be elevated to new heights. He described the 10th festival as ‘nothing short of spectacular’ and acknowledged the festival’s unifying role. ‘We’re all just one people living in many islands,’ he said.
Mr Langkilde says Solomon Islands organisers have a lot of work ahead. ‘We had our internal faults but I think the key is to involve the community. The volunteers are the ones who made this festival a success.’
The Secretariat of the Pacific Community’s (SPC) Adviser for Culture, Dr Elise Huffer, spoke at the closing ceremony on behalf of Dr Jimmie Rodgers, SPC Director General. SPC plays a supporting role to the host country.
Dr Huffer said Solomon Islands could count on SPC’s support in its preparations for the next festival. ‘We will stand by your side on this journey and you can be assured of our support and solidarity,’ she said.
She thanked the heads of delegations and all the participants for their dedication to arts and culture. ‘Your skills and knowledge, the courage and beauty you display, the words, chants, dances, carving, weaving, sculpting you create and re-create are a wonder to the world.’
She also thanked the American Samoan people for their generosity and expressed special gratitude to the hundreds of festival volunteers.
As the official closing ceremony drew to an end and the fireworks began, accompanied by the thundering rhythm of Polynesian drums, participants danced around the stadium in a gigantic conga line.
Although the official programme is over, the festival village, where remaining countries can display their crafts, will stay open until 2 August. Local villages will also be hosting country delegations still remaining in American Samoa.
For more information about the festival visit the official website at http://pacartsas.com .
For more information regarding this press release, please contact Tione Chinula, SPC Human Development Programme Advocacy and Communications Officer, phone +(1 684) 254 0134 or e-mail