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Debut Art Fest builds momentum among artists

A collage of art displayed at the first ever Art Fest at the multi-purpose cultural centre

Art Fest 2022, the first of its kind, culminated on Friday evening after a week-long showcase of local talent. With the collective efforts of visual arts teachers from various schools and the support of the different arms of the Ministry of Education, dozens of students and visual arts educators were able to display their work to the public.

Although not initially part of the participating artists, Kallan Greene, a local fine artist stopped by to support the work of other creatives and to show how he creates his charcoal art in real time, in hopes that individuals might learn from it or be encouraged to try.

“I heard about Art Fest, figured I should stop by and at least check it out because we don’t usually get opportunities like these,” he noted.

Mr. Greene was 17-years-old when he decided to take his talent seriously and now at the age of 32, he believes Antigua & Barbuda still has a long way to go to see to it that artists have a platform to display and nurture their work.

With a stern shake of the head, Mr. Greene agreed that more investment in the arts is needed.

Funding, he said, could support more events like Art Fest, more spaces for the public view art and for artists to be in their element, have a chance to express themselves and work on something.

He also said support in education is needed to help further the skills of artistic students.

“The school curriculum, based on what I know from my time definitely needs some work …needs some structure,” he proposed.

Senator, Shawn Nicholas said she was surprised at the level of talent that existed in Antigua and Barbuda, having scanned through the wall of artistry on display at the Multi-purpose Cultural Centre.

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“I was very impressed, from my entrance on the wall where you had to mark your name … I’m very impressed with the work of the students, with the work of the teachers and I must be honest that I did not know this quality of work existed in our school system,” she said.

She too agreed that there needs to be a national platform for artists to continue promoting this type of work and to generate business for themselves.

Head of the Art Fest Committee and visual arts teacher, Emile Hill said the group had been working together for about a year to prepare the exhibition and other activities including a Fashion Show planned for 2023.

“Also, a panel discussion because a lot of conversations have started here amongst artists as well so, we’ll have a discussion. We’re also going to be having design competitions for the students …so it’s an umbrella of activities,” he explained.

Encouraged by the reception of the public, Mr. Hill wants to make Art Fest an annual event with a list of activities throughout each year.

He noted that although “not very heavy,” there has been constant traffic through the exhibition.

“It’s been good to have people come out and see what our young people and our visual arts teachers are capable of doing,” he said.

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