WE BRIDGIN’  – “Who are We and What Will We Become” Practica

NOVEMBER 1 – 7, 2014 The Guyana Cultural Association of New York, Inc. and Guyana’s Ministry of Culture, Youth, and Sport will continue their partnership to preserve Guyana’s cultural heritage and promote Guyanese creativity.  GCA’s secretary, Dr. Juliet Emanuel describes the 2014 season as a season of action—Practica.
Under the “We bridgin” banner, the 2014 season launches a work program aimed at supporting the development and delivery of the curricula of the Institute of Creative Arts (ICA), advancing the rehabilitation of the masquerade heritage, and confirming a program of activities for Guyana’s 50th anniversary of independence, in 2016.
November 1, 2014
Between 9:00 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. on November 1, 2014, members of the Guyanese creative arts community in New York will join with counterparts in Guyana via Skype to explore the state of creative arts education in Guyana and develop specific projects to enrich the curriculum of the ICA.  The anticipated projects will be related to folk research, the visual arts, the performing arts, literary arts, film and video.  The results of these projects will be part of a program of activities to celebrate Guyana’s 50th anniversary of independence in 2016.
GCA’s 2014 symposium season will also continue the work started during the 2012 “Masquerade Lives” symposium season in Guyana.  To this end, the GCA/MCYS partnership has organized two specialized workshops.  One focuses on costume design and the other on music preservation.
Costume Design Workshop
The workshop on costume design will be held at the E.R. Burrowes School of Art from November 3 to November 6, 2014.  Among the objectives of the workshop are improving skills in designing and fabricating costumes reflecting the designs of Guyana’s masquerade heritage.  Stanley Greaves has already contributed designs for the workshop.  Among the expected outcomes will be costumes for an entire masquerade band (4 x flat foot flouncers, two stilt men, Long Lady, Bam Bam Sally, Bhoom drummer, Kittle drummer, Flute man, and Triangle man).  The costumes created during this four-day workshop will become part of “Masquerade Lives” installation located at the National Cultural Center.
Masquerade CostumePhotograph courtesy Stanley Greaves


Music Preservation Workshop

Masquerdade Band  Photograph courtesy Vibert Cambridge

The focus of this workshop is to support the preservation and promotion of masquerade flute music.  

This workshop will be held at Guyana’s National School of Music from November 3 to November 6, 2014.  Among the objectives is to showcase the virtuosity of

Rudolph “Putagee” Vivierios,–one of the last of Guyana’s master masquerade flute men.  Among  other objectives are introducing students of the National School of Music to the music of Guyana masquerade tradition, introducing participants to the penny whistle, introducing students to the arts and science of recording music, and providing an opportunity to encourage innovation in masquerade music.  The music recorded during this workshop will provide the “soundtrack” for the “Masquerade Lives” installation.

“We bridgin.”


Simulcast Georgetown, Guyana and Brooklyn, New York, USA
The Gallery, 6th Floor, Empire State College/SUNY
177 Livingston Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201
And Georgetown Guyana, South America

The Second in a Series of Dialogues and Practical Applications
The First Dialogue is reflected in the White Paper, a product of  the GCA Annual Symposium 2013.

November 1(in New York and Guyana) through November 7 (in Guyana), 2014

Pre-program events
Registration: 9: 00 to end of event
Pre-symposium breakfast:  9: 00 – 9:55 a.m.

10:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

10:00 a.m.  Welcome from New York
(Representatives from GCA; Metropolitan
Center/  Empire State College/SUNY)
Welcome from The Ministry of Culture,
Youth and Sport, Guyana

10:15 a.m.  Movements of the Masquerade Dance,
A Steelband Development Series, a
video production supported by UNESCO and The Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport, Guyana, South America
11:15 a.m.  Discussion and commentary
on the presentation:
Members of video production team and
demonstration participants in
Guyana in conversation with
representatives of cultural performance
in New York

12 noon:     Lunch break

1: 00 p.m.  Practica
Examining workshop strategies
Notetakers in New York and Georgetown
will record remarks

The practicalities and realities
1.    Finding space
2.    Finding participants
3.    Creating curricula
4.    Maintaining voice and validity
5.    Implications for the future – recording and
disseminating experience

The art of
a. Dance     b. Music   c. Art   d. Writing

2:10 p.m.       Reflections

2:15 p.m.      Final remarks from Georgetown, Guyana.

2:30 p.m.    The Symposium ends






2014 Symposium

Call for Participation

Working on Identity: The Diaspora and the Creative Arts

November 1 – 8, 2014

Guyana, South America



This will be the third GCA symposium to be held in Guyana. It continues a partnership with the Ministry of Culture, Youth, and Sport. The title for the 2014 symposium signifies GCA’s ongoing response to the recommendations from the 2013 “Who are we?” Symposium, which challenged participants to “[imagine] Guyana beyond Indian and African politics of race.” The Report and White Paper from the 2013 symposium is available at: http://guyfolkfest.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/reassembled_report_and_white_paper_final_without_overview_may_2_2014.pdf

The 2014 symposium also recognizes the crucial role of the contemporary creative arts in representing Guyanese identity to local, regional, and global communities, such as the Guyanese diaspora. Further, the symposium also demonstrates GCA’s continued commitment to supporting the study and celebration of Guyanese heritage along with encouraging and supporting Guyanese creativity.


In 2013, there were substantial curricular and human resources deficiencies in Guyana’s creative arts education and training curriculum. These deficiencies not only undermine the scope of Guyanese creativity; more than anything it undermines Guyana’s ability to participate in the globally-connect cultural industries. The creative arts provide a language that allow Guyanese to participate in, benefit, and contribute to global conversations and creativity

The case of Lisa Punch is instructive. Lisa Punch, the Guyanese competitor on ABC’s talent show “Rising Star” recently admitted during an interview show that she had no idea what “pitch” meant!   She had been told by one of the show’s judges that she had a pitch problem at the start of her performance. This 21-year old former Bishop’s High School student who has been pursuing a career as a singer, dancer, and actor also stated during the interview that she was never exposed in Guyana to an education program that equipped her with the most elementary levels of the vocabulary of music. As Derry Etkins has noted on July 13, 2014, “talent needs to be balanced with training.”

To see the Lisa Punch interview, go to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-reQHBAjlv8&feature=share

The current rehabilitation of Guyana’s Institute of the Creative Arts (ICA) is an important step in recognition of the need for new strategies to address this crucial sector in Guyanese life in an interconnected world.

Institute of Creative Arts

The origins of the Institute of Creative Arts (ICA) are to be found in the assessment of the state of Guyanese creative arts after Carifesta 72. That assessment resulted in the establishment of the National School of Dance (1974) and the E.R. Burrowes School of Art (1975). Plans for schools of music and creative writing were not implemented. The current version of the Institute of Creative Arts will, through the E.R. Burrowes School of Art, National School of Dance, National School of Music, the National School of Theatre, and the soon to be created National School of Creative Writing and School of Media Arts will deliver the nation’s pivotal creative arts curriculum.   The new institute will hold its first convocation in September 2014.

Through a dynamic and high quality curriculum, the institute will have important linking roles with Guyana’s secondary and post-secondary education communities, civil society, and diaspora.

The discourse on cultural policy in Guyana, including the discourse on creative arts education in Guyana can become shrill at times. However, despite the current shrillness, there is at the core, apparent agreement among crucial stakeholders on the following:

  • Guyana needs a coherent and sustainable creative arts education and training system.
  • There is need for a human resources development strategy to develop and sustain the creative arts education and training system.

The 2014 symposium will provide an opportunity to develop a strategy to respond to these twin needs.


On Saturday, November 1, 2014, as part of the 2014 symposium, the organizers will create a videoconference “bridge” to connect Guyanese creative artists and other professionals in the diaspora with stakeholders in Guyana’s curriculum for education and training in the creative arts. The primary diaspora site will be CUNY/Empire State College, Brooklyn and a venue to be determined in Georgetown.

The goal is to contribute to the creation of a sustainable system for enriching Guyana’s creative arts education curriculum.

To this end, panel proposals, papers, posters, and other formats are invited on the following and related fields:

  • Global and regional trends in creative arts education and training;
  • Creative arts in Guyana: origins, current state and trajectories;
  • Guyanese aesthetics and the cultural industries;

In addition, the 2014 symposium will continue to promote the rehabilitation of Guyana’s masquerade heritage through a workshop on masquerade costume design and manufacture on Sunday, November 2, 2014 at a venue to be identified in Guyana. Again, Guyanese at home and in the diaspora, especially those associated with the fashion arts are encouraged to participate.

Abstracts of no more than 300 words should be sent by September 15, 2014 to symposium@guyfolkfest.org


One of the successful activities during the 2012 symposium in Guyana was the visit to Victoria Village for the “Masquerade Flounce Off.” In addition to supporting the rehabilitation of the art form, the visit also provided participants with an opportunity to conduct valuable research on Guyana’s masquerade heritage. During November 3 to 6, symposium participants will have an opportunity to visit heritage sites and conduct research in urban and rural areas of the coast and in hinterland locations.   On Saturday, November 7, symposium participants will attend celebrations in Victoria to commemorate the 175th anniversary of the founding of Guyana’s first village

In summary, the objectives of the 2014 symposium are:

  • To contribute to the development of a sustainable system for diaspora engagement with the creative arts curriculum in Guyana;
  • To continue GCA’s commitment to the masquerade rehabilitation initiative by organizing a workshop on masquerade costume design;
  • To establish partnerships for the design and execution of the film and video, literary, performing arts, visual arts, and culinary arts programs to celebrate Guyana’s 50th anniversary of independence in 2016 as identified in the above-mentioned Report and White Paper;
  • To provide opportunities for travel to heritage sites in urban, rural, and hinterland Guyana;
  • To participating in Victoria’s 175th anniversary celebrations.


GCA Symposium Team

July 25, 2014



We bridgin…


GCA SYMPOSIUM 2014 – 2016