Lack of finance, a challenge for literary festival

Literary Festival Chairman, Alwin Bully
Literary Festival Chairman, Alwin Bully

If things go as planned, there could be some more money to spend in organizing the next Nature Island Literary Festival and Book Fair (NILF).

With lingering music from the sound system drifting through the night air at Mero beach on Sunday August 11, a physically tired but otherwise satisfied event chairman, Alwin Bully, told Dominica  News Online that inadequate funding continues to be the biggest challenge facing the festival.

” It costs money to stage a festival like this. You’re trying to bring in people from the rest of the world practically. If we could afford it, we’d bring people from  Africa, we’d bring people from Asia, we’d bring people from South America. We just can’t afford it. So finding a source of funding that would let us do the festival to the level that we really would like to, has been top,” Bully remarked.

But things could change over the next three years if the interest shown by some agencies in funding the festival, materializes. “Really, that would be a dream,” he said,  “and not only the festival but the interim period between the festivals, very very important. Because the festival takes place in the vacation period, holiday period, we don’t quite capture the full audience, neither the teachers nor the students. So we know that we need to work more in the schools during the term period getting them into competitions, getting them into elocution contests, developing their confidence as public speakers, reading in public, trying their hand at poetry and short story and encouraging them with linking it to things say, like television,” he pointed out.

“Filming a story written by a kid; making a movie out of it even if it’s a small movie for Dominican audiences alone and then going bigger and bigger as they develop those skills showing that writing has all those possibilities of film, television, radio, journalism, writing of novels, writing of journals, reportage etc. The range is vast,” Bully enthused

By then, the beach was emptying out as several members of an appreciative last day audience were making their way home.

Sitting on the edge of a local canoe pulled up on the beach, Bully exuded the feeling of someone who was satisfied with the results of the hard work that had gone into the preparation of the sixth staging of the literary festival. He said in terms of the objectives of the festival, it will take at least ten years to get people into reading or writing in a serious way but he noted that there were signs of it happening and praised the  DBS Radio, Ministry of Education national reading competition.

“Those young kids themselves are going to be writers in a very short time. Give them five to six years and they’re going to start writing. We already have some examples with people like Giselle Pierre. Giselle is just about 14 years old with four or five plays already and three or four more up her sleeves getting ready to write. That’s a phenomenal type of experience happening here from young people that’s reading and writing and to me that’s all tied in to a festival like this,” Bully remarked.

He said the Mero Beach aspect of the festival will continue next year and efforts will also be made to take the event to other parts of the country.

This year, the festival honoured  Martiniquan writer, politician and intellectual the late Aime Cesaire.

Presenters included Antiguan writer, D’orbrenne O’marde of Antigua and two overseas-based Dominican writers among others.

President Williams and a section of the Mero audience at the Literary Festival on Sunday
President Williams and a section of the Mero audience at the Literary Festival on Sunday

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8 Comments

  1. Jimi Hendrix
    August 14, 2013

    Great work Alwyn. You have toiled in the trenches of literature for a long time. Continue the good work that you are doing.

    My only concern about this festival is: from looking at those in the audience, it appears that a large segment of the population was not represented. It is because of a general lack of interest in reading? How can you make it more appealing for people to pick up and enjoy books?

  2. Micheal
    August 14, 2013

    Maybe if the organizers realize that literature can be manifested or displayed in another forms other than the basic reading. Have a poetry cafe or slam, where poets creatively portray their poems,in song, skits, monologue. Challenge local theater groups to present a story of novel on stage like what was done for rumpunch and prejudice. Have you seen where a poet deliver a poem and an artist paints the image at the same time?

    • Truth be told
      August 15, 2013

      That’s the idea Micheal.

  3. Delroy N. Williams
    August 14, 2013

    proud to have been associated with this festival and will continue to contribute for as long as i can… hats off to Mr. Bully and the rest of the team

    it wasn’t easy but it was worth it

  4. Truth be told
    August 14, 2013

    I never understand how in Dominica there is lack of finance for every worthy nation building programme/event but yet you read and hear of so much money, land, houses, given away by this government to its lazy supporters! People who should be working waiting on state handouts – but yes, I forgot the government not creating any jobs for the beggars! We are quickly becoming a bit like Africa where every leader is a millionaire but charities still want you to send your hard earned dollar to feed their unemployed!

  5. Civic
    August 14, 2013

    The turn out was okay, could have been better

  6. like it so
    August 14, 2013

    Where have all that money gone?

    The Literary festival, a noble idea that Dominicans initiated, has potential that we haven’t envisaged. The event needs all the support.

    That’s where the $$$$$ should go. Instead is in dem fellas pockets and bank accounts or wasted in/on…………. See below.

    The Dominica government has been called upon by the Venezuelan government to begin to make payments on its more than US $23.6 million (EC $ 63.3 million) owed to that country for petroleum imports.
    In information made available to TDN, Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) the Venezuelan government owned petroleum company said that this was its eighteenth request for payment being made to the Dominica National Petroleum (DNP) without success.
    DNP is the Dominica government owned entity responsible for overseeing the Petrocaribe Energy Agreement between the two countries. Under this agreement, PDVSA sells petroleum products to DNP and the repayments are converted into loans to be repaid over a 25 year period.
    Initially, the interest rate on this debt was approximately 1.0 percent, but just last week, the Venezuelan government announced that the interest rate would jump to 2.4 percent in October.
    Questions are been asked within Dominica about government’s failure to repay this loan. Fact is, the imported petroleum products are sold at prevailing market prices to domestic consumers and the question arises as to where this large sums of money is going as the purchases remain unpaid.
    With the current debt level, interest charges amount to EC $633 000 per year, but would increase to EC $1.5 million under the proposed increase.
    It is not clear if the same issues regarding repayment are being experienced by the other Caribbean countries including Jamaica, Antigua, and St Vincent and the Grenadines, which have similar agreements.

  7. Anonymous
    August 13, 2013

    It was good last year

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