COVID Limits BVI Festival Celebrations


A week ago Minister for Education and Culture Dr. the Hon. Natalio Wheatley announced that there was going to be no ‘Rise and Shine’ tramp or August Monday parade this year in light of the global COVID 19 pandemic. This announcement was not well received by some sections of the community and the Minister announced in the House of Assembly on 28 July that what he has heard in response to his announcement offends him. 

Hon. Wheatley reminded the members of the House that this is the period that is set aside annually for the Territory’s Emancipation celebration. He alluded to the previous announcement that was made on 21 July that while there was going to be a 2020 celebration it was going to be tapered. 

However, the Minister stated that he is troubled by the response as some people seem to still expect revelry: “There are some persons out there who are saying if we are not going to have the jump up let’s cancel. If we are not going to have the wine up let’s just forget the whole thing. I have to say I am a laid back individual …I have to say I’m actually offended by those [comments]. 

Nonetheless, the Minister for culture said that the Territory was going to have its Emancipation celebration provided no storms come. 

In his previous announcement Hon. Wheatley explained that because of the COVID 19 emergency the decision was made to downsize the celebrations: “As a result of the economic impact of COVID-19, we cannot spend the hundreds of thousands of dollars that we usually spend feting. Inevitably our celebration this year will look different. COVID-19, however, has provided us with an opportunity to be more creative, to have more focus on our local arts and culture, and to make sure our heritage is properly recognised.” 

“As a result of the social distancing protocols, we will not be waking up in a ‘J’ouvert’. To say it correctly, our Rise and Shine Tramp, will not be prancing in the street on August Monday, but we now have the opportunity to reflect on the how and why we celebrate our festival,” the Minister added. 

The events promoted this year do not have the usual international artistes lineup, however, there are several online events. The activity list includes: A Cultural Food Fair at the Pier Park, a Virtual Opening Ceremony, a Virtual Poetry Slam, Farmers Market in Carrot Bay, Virtual Emancipation Services, Virtual Gospel Explosion, Virtual VI Soca Showcase, Virtual Calypso Review, and a Festival of Culture and Praise in Long Look/East End.