Culture Minister Michael Pintard told Eyewitness News that his ministry is working toward monetizing and internationalizing Junkanoo to ensure that the age-old cultural tradition is globally marketable.
Since government pulled its finacial support from Bahamas Carnival, Pintard said, it has more or less been concerned about ensuring that Junkanoo is internationally viable.
“What prevents us as a country from manufacturing many of the materials that are utilized in Junkanoo and other festivals?” Pintard questioned.
“What prevents us from developing instruments? We can look into manufacturing cowbells, drums and other instruments that we utilize in the cultural parade, that can be produced and reproduced to monetize our cultural product.”
Pintard, in a previous interview with Eyewitness News, revealed that the government will soon begin constructing 14 Junkanoo shacks throughout The Bahamas.
The venture is part of a public-private partnership (PPP) between government and five private entities, which Cabinet recently gave the green-light to, to get the ball rolling.
The minister said the undertaking is an effort to further bolster the growth of Junkanoo, while providing Junkanoo groups with a structured environment to create, market and share their craft and make revenue.
With its potential to spur economic gain, the minister noted that he also foresees Junkanoo being internationalized as well.
“We have to internationalize the festival in a more deliberate manner. There are several groups that have gained international gain and drew more attention to The Bahamas through their travels. This is not only a win for our culture being showcased to the world, but it also translates into awesome tourism for The Bahamas as well,” he shared.
“More groups can be doing this.
“What prevents us from getting this incredible art form on mainstream television in the United States (U.S.) as well? Our film program within the Ministry of Culture, and in conjunction with the Ministry of Tourism, will help package this cultural phenomenon so that it can populate Netflix, HBO, NBC, ABC. We have the content, we just need to package it to internationalise it.”
And while the Ministry of Culture makes moves towards strengthening The Bahamas’ cultural product, and selling it to the world, Pintard said government will host a one-week Junkanoo festival, which will open the door for more tourist participation as well.
“This year, you will have a Junkanoo festival. At a minimum, we will have a week-long set of activities that goes beyond the two traditional parades that will give tourists an opportunity to experience Junkanoo, even if they didn’t attend the two parades,” he said.
“This,” he said, “will translate into heads-in-beds.”
The festival is slated for this summer.