By Gary Hatigeva
PERMANENT Secretary for the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and Chair of the Melanesian Arts and Culture Festival (MACFEST) committee, Andrew Nihopara has acknowledged New Caledonia’s contribution to support the hosting of the 6th Melanesian Arts and Culture Festival.
The MacFest Chair expressed this following the fulfilment of New Caledonia’s part from a signed agreement between the two nations, under the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) Cultural Cooperation Agreement, for the providence of fireworks and sound system for the event.
In an exclusive interview regarding this, Nihopara explained that this agreement has made a significant relief to the MacFest committee’s budget, as it could not afford to include the fire works within its hosting budget due to its high cost.
“But thanks to the MSG Cultural Cooperation Agreement, which was further endorsed in the Ministers of Culture Meeting in December 2017, the FLNKS through the New Caledonia Government stepped in to provide the 1.3 tonnes of fire works for opening and closing ceremonies and also for the 40th independence anniversary celebrations on the 6th of July,” the relieved Chairman further expressed.
He said the container of the donated fireworks have arrived in the country in late May, along with their technical crew, and as part of the deal, MACFEST is meeting the accommodation and food cost of the technical team of three people.
He added that also as part of the agreement, MACFEST is also meeting the logistics support for the movement of the team and the fireworks to the various locations, which vary between Lawson Tama, the Panatina Grounds and the Ports area.
He however assured that the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF) has taken custody of the fireworks materials since their arrival in the country for safe keeping.
“This support by New Caledonia will ensure that the MACFEST is colourful, Honiara residence will enjoy the fireworks during these important occasions and most importantly, the Festival will have the flavour of what a real festival should be,” Nihopara further explained.
Meanwhile, he added that further to the supply of the fire works, New Caledonia is also making a significant contribution under the Cultural Cooperation Agreement with a further 2 tonnes of state-of-the-art sounds and lighting equipment.
“This contribution is very significant due to the fact that given the limitation in the available budget for hiring of such equipment, the MACFEST Committee planned a huge scaling down of the need for equipment to be hired.
“The support from New Caledonia with the sound and lighting equipment again has enabled the plans to stage have equipments available at all the performance venues and stages during the 10 days festival.
“Like for the fireworks, New Caledonia is also sending in the technical crew for the set up of the sounds and lighting equipments.
“All the sound equipment will be temporarily imported into the Solomon Islands for the purpose of the Festival and after the conclusion of the Festival, the equipment will be packed into the containers again and freighted back to New caledonia.
“For the containers of fire works and sound ” lighting equipment, the New Caledonian government also meet the freight costs into the Solomon Islands and they are also meeting the backward freight of the equipment.
“MACFEST only meet all the on-the-ground costs in Honiara,” the MacFest Committee Chair further explained.
He then reiterated that with New Caledonia’s contributions, there is a huge relief of the MACFEST budget for the Committee to concentrate on the priority costs of hosting the events and the necessary infrastructure for the event to successfully take place next month.
“There will be a formal convey of appreciation to the New Caledonia Government during the 6th Ministers of Culture Meeting in Honiara on the 28th of June 2018,” he further added.
On the other hand, the MACFEST Committee is also looking forward to the assistance by the other MSG Countries in this regard under the MSG Cultural Cooperation Agreement in the coming week.