MACFest preparations on track: Nihopara

Permanent Secretary for Ministry of Culture and Tourism Andrew Nihopara
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By Gary Hatigeva

PREPARATION work to host the Melanesian Arts and Culture Festival (MacFest) is right on track, says officials from the National Organising Committee (NOC).

Festival Committee Chair and Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Andrew Nihopara yesterday revealed that preparations are progressing well, and that the committee is making “steady progress” toward hosting the biggest Melanesian festival.

In a press conference with the local media yesterday, Nihopara who was accompanied by the MacFest’s event Director, told reporters that everything is going very smoothly, with works on most of the confirmed venues are well on track and that they will be completed as scheduled.

“Thanks to the Ministry of Finance for ensuring that our financial matters are dealt with swiftly, making all payments under the committee to be less time consuming, and up to date.”

When questioned, the MacFest Chair explained that the main issue at first had been the budget, which rapidly spiralled out of control and forced a tight preparation schedule, but stressed that despite all that and the delay in its passage, the committee was able to fast track all its programs, ensuring that preps are well within their budget.

“So far, with the $7 Million funds allocated to the Committee through the Ministry for the festival, the National Organising Committee has been very careful on how we used it and has been well spent,” the MacFest Chair explained.

Island Sun understands that with the way things have been handled and status of preparations been highlighted, unlike in previous events hosted in the country, where there was a scramble to finish venues on time, the MacFest NOC appears to be living up to its reputation for efficiency and transparency.

Nihopara however aounced that with confidence in the progress of work done, the Committee is certain the targeted timeframe for work to complete will be met.

He added that the committee is targeting the end of this week for all works to be completed, especially for the stalls at the event’s village where the former FOPA Solomon Village was.

As for the allocated huts to participating countries, the MacFest Chairman proudly announced that they have been completed and are now ready to be used.

Meanwhile, the committee chair added that the much anticipated Crafts Market facility next to the National Art Gallery, is 90 percent completed and the NOC is also confident that comes the July festival period, it will be ready for use.

He then pointed out that the issue of health safety and security aspects of the event are also well taken care off, as the Police through its involvement in the NOC, have given the nod, and have also confirmed the finalization of their operation program for the festival.

Nihopara also took time to acknowledge the committee’s private sector partnership and key stakeholders for what he described as, the relevant support, they have rendered to ensure facilities built for the event, are standardized.

He also acknowledged fellow line ministries for their roles and support that have been, and will be given during the event, which will ensure delegates are looked after through liason officers from the ministry of foreign affairs, transported around through the ministry of infrastructure development and safe through the local police force.

Island Sun also understands that government dignitaries from participating countries, especially foreign ministers within the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG), will arrive ahead of the rest of their participants, a week earlier, for a Council of Arts and Culture Meeting (CACM).

For the next two weeks or so, the MacFest NOC is expected to put out more updates through the local media, but the Event’s Director and Director for the Culture Division with the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Dennis Maritta explained that the MacFest 2018 also has a website, and urged that those who have online access, to check the site for timely updates regarding the whole aspect of the event.

The Melanesian Arts and Culture Festival will run for 10 days, starting on the 1st and ends on the 10th of next month.