Dominica Artists in Residence comes to a close with a new spirit to preserve and innovate  

Traditional sensay costumes

The first ever Dominica Artists in Residence Programme will officially come to a close this Thursday 16th November, with a renewed sense by practitioners and masqueraders to continue to work to preserve the art-form and to begin a new period of regional and international collaboration in building a more robust and visible masquerade form in Dominica and the region’s carnival celebrations.

After more than one week of sharing, exchange of experiences and working together on building carnival masks and new sensay costumes, the Artists in Residence Programme is being hailed as a major success by organisers. According to the Lead Coordinator of the Programme, Mrs. Anita Bully of Kaz Kweyol Productions: “the event highlighted the need to invest more in the development of the arts, providing the necessary support to artists to be more inspired and motivated to preserving especially those traditional forms but moreso, to explore ways to create meaningful and sustained efforts to monetizing the work of our local artists”. “For us, this has been a particularly important and meaningful intervention which has allowed us to build a solid cohort of local mas makers, but very importantly to help us connect with regional experts who have played such an important role in making this a memorable experience. But there is still more to be done, there is still a need for more support if we are to sustain the interest and create a lasting impression”. :”We also want to thank Creative Caribbean for the funding for this activity, as well as the Department of Culture and the many other local partners who came to our support to ensure that we were able to successfully execute this activity, Mrs. Bully said.

Mrs Bully also had high praises for the local and regional experts who facilitated the Residence programme, and highlighted their unique and dedicated skills in helping to create real iconic moments and instilling a new sense of innovation and dedication to the craft of making traditional carnival costumes.  The facilitators work helped in creating a happy and fun-environment as the local mas-makers worked on making new types of masks to accompany the sensay, explored and innovated with making lighter costumes and found ways to bring their collective skills and experience to create some exciting new carnival products that will be on display at the closing ceremony on the evening of November 16th.

The Creative Caribbean funded nine-day residency brought together more than fifteen local mas makers of traditional masquerade forms from communities across Dominica. Many of those who participated in the training are veteran creators who have been the torch bearers and keepers of this vibrant carnival culture in communities such as St. Joseph, Newtown, Mahaut, Portsmouth, Dublanc, Colihaut, Portsmouth, Roseau, and elsewhere, demonstrating that the traditional masquerade forms are alive and well in Dominica. They were joined by experts and partners from Martinique, Trinidad and Tobago and New Orleans, in what will long be remembered as the pivotal moment to anchor sensay and other traditional forms of carnival as an important and critical aspect of our carnival.

The next stage of the work will involve further training opportunities for local mas-makers, deepening the collaboration with regional and international partners and mobilising resources to create greater impact and to inspire the younger and newer builders of this important aspect of the culture.

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1 Comment

  1. Roger Burnett
    November 15, 2023

    I find it reassuring that the program closed by highlighting the need not only to preserve, but to innovate. Without innovation culture becomes static and divorced from its roots in the belly of the people.

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