A two member team from the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) has completed a second round of assessment of preparations toward the 11th Festival of Pacific Arts following a visit to Honiara, Solomon Islands last week.

Elise Huffer, Adviser for Culture at SPC's Human Development Programme and Larry Thomas, Coordinator of SPC's Regional Media Centre has held talks with key festival stakeholders including government and private sector officials and the National Organising Committee Board.

During the visit, the SPC team was briefed on the progress made so far in relation to planning and the 2011 government budget.

Although progress in terms of notable infrastructure development has been delayed, the SPC team has been assured of the Organising Committee's commitment to start ground work on facilities at the end of this month.

The assurance was made after the national government has approved the Festival Development Budget early this month which will enable responsible sub-committees to implement their work programmes.

Major infrastructure developments that are expected to roll-out at the end of this month includes the proposed Festival Village at Panatina Grounds, upgrading of proposed accommodation facilities at SICHE and KGVI and a major facelift of Honiara City and other selected Provincial Centers.

Other activities that will be carried out include Honiara Beautification, a Mass Media Campaign and Provincial Visits to prepare the Solomon Islands contingent.
The festival will run from the 1st to 14th July 2012. Delegations from 27 Pacific Island Countries and Territories will come together to share and exchange their cultures in Solomon Islands at this biggest cultural event.

The 27 participating Pacific Island Countries and Territories include: American Samoa, Australia, Cook Islands, Easter Island, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji Islands, French Polynesia, Guam, Hawaii, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Niue, Norfolk Island, Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Pitcairn Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and Wallis and Futuna.

The Festival is recognized as a major international cultural event, and is the largest gathering in which Pacific peoples unite to gain respect for and appreciation of one another within the context of the changing Pacific.
Hosting the Festival is a major cultural, technical and economic challenge, requiring broad community participation and cooperation.

The Festival also provides tremendous opportunities for social and cultural interchange and for the exposure of local products, and can help to enhance tourism within the host country.

The Festival provides Pacific peoples with an opportunity to assert their identities, both for themselves and to share with other people of the Pacific. It has additional significance for the host country, which has the opportunity to present itself: to its own people, to invited countries and to the Festival audience.

Source: Press Release, Pacific of Arts Committee