Junkanoo and Cultural Tourism Must Grow Says Culture Minister

Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, the Hon. Dr. Danny Johnson said plans are on the drawing board to improve Junkanoo in Grand Bahama, and a part of that plan is to create an eight-week Junkanoo season in The Bahamas.

“That means, this would create multiple opportunities on various islands for more creative work by Junkanooers,” added Minister Johnson, during an interview with the media at Grand Bahama’s New Year’s Junkanoo parade on Monday night, downtown Freeport.

“We would like to see the Grand Bahama parade grow and get better, and from what I’ve seen here at this parade thus far, the quality of work has already sky-rocketed.”

Minister Johnson noted that what was done to develop sports tourism in The Bahamas, must now be the focus in developing cultural tourism. He said that he and Tourism Minister Obie WIlchcombe are working as one to make this dream a reality.

“Look at all of the accomplishments we’ve had together in terms of sports tourism in The Bahamas, including Popeye’s Bowl, the Tiger Woods Classic, the IAAF World Track and Field Relay Championships, FIFA World Soccer and more.

It’s to the point where we now have a year-round sporting calendar for The Bahamas. And we now have to do the same for culture and the arts,” added Minister Johnson.

“So the move now is to take these events like Junkanoo and make them festivals so that every time our tourists come to our shores they could be informed of some cultural festival that we are having in The Bahamas and Junkanoo will be a big part of that. “

In fact, the Cultural Minister noted that Grand Bahama has one of the few Junkanoo Museums in the country and said that the government will continue to assist the young men and women who contribute to the museum.

As a part of helping take Junkanoo to the next level in Grand Bahama and throughout the country, Minister Johnson pointed to the fact that the government has increased seed money for groups, which goes towards helping to defray some of the expenses of putting together costumes and pieces of art for each parade.

“We’re making sure that the partners who are also involved in Junkanoo are also making increases in their contributions,” said Minister Johnson. “The success of the art form of Junkanoo though is really up to the groups. We cannot get involved in that aspect of it. Although, I’m convinced, the Junior Junkanoo program continues to be stronger and stronger.

“As a country, we see that program as the farm. So, what we want is to have the people who have been at this Junkanoo thing for a long time to go in to the schools and teach the youngsters their craft – how to paste, how to choreograph, how to get good music together. All of that are things that can be taught and so we’re happy about the Junior Junkanoo program and for what it means for the country.

“I’m really tracking and watching closely the progress of our 16, 17-year-olds who have taken up the task of competing in Junkanoo.”

Minister Johnson said that although certain aspects of Junkanoo are already being exported abroad, new ways of getting the essence of Junkanoo around the world must be found. For example, he noted that while Junkanoo has been exported through the means of video, social media and by CD, there must be a way to take the physical aspect of Junkanoo around the world at a minimal cost.

“As far as the commercial exportation of Junkanoo is concerned, that’s a challenge for us because you can’t send a thousand people off around the world to do this for couple hours at a time and come back,” said Minister Johnson.

“So, to package it and export it in its fullness will take another generation of thinkers and creative people to take Junkanoo to the world. And it has to be able to adapt to every condition in which it is exported.

“For example, it began to rain a little before the parade got started, but because this is an outdoor event, you can’t cancel it and tell people to come back later. So, maybe there needs to be some research in having the costumes weather-proofed or something of the sort. These are just things that must be looked at in our attempt to take Junkanoo to the next level.”

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