A four-member delegation from the 11th Festival of Pacific Arts National Organizing Committee (FOPANOC) has ended a three-day consultative meeting with the Malaita Provincial Government last Sunday.

Led by FOPA Board Chairman, Sir George Lepping, the team held talks with Malaita Premier Hon Edwin Suibaea and members of his provincial executive including Provincial Secretary Harold Leka and representatives of the Provincial Taskforce.

The purpose of the visit is to hold follow up discussions with the Provincial Executive and the Provincial Taskforce to explore avenues where both the FOPANOC and the Malaita Provincial Government can work together to prepare Malaita Province as a satellite venue for the 11th Festival of Pacific Arts from July 1-14, 2012.

Sir George told the premier and his officials the FOPA Board has approved Auki as a satellite venue for the festival since the Province has the biggest population, about 140,000 people living in the province.

"Bringing the festival over to Auki is giving an opportunity to about a third of our country's population in Malaita to participate in the festival.

Malaita's huge population also reflects the diverse cultures of the province that endemically portrays and consists much of this country's cultural diversity.

"This automatically qualifies Malaita as a relevant and an appropriate venue for the festival of Pacific Arts as there is much to showcase to the region in terms of our arts and cultures in Malaita alone," Sir George said.

Co-hosting the festival in Auki will help to leave some improvements in terms of infrastructure development, social services and community participation and cooperation.

"It is the wish of the National Organizing Committee that the Festival of Pacific Arts leaves some forms of legacy in the improvement of Auki town as a tourism destination create an avenue and venue to foster the development and sustainability of arts and cultural activities in the province," Sir George explained.

In terms of funding for festival activities in Auki, it has been agreed that both the FOPANOC and Malaita Provincial Government will co-fund preparatory work and the actual hosting of the festival in Auki.

At the conclusion of the meeting, Sir George assured the Malaita Provincial Government that FOPANOC will do all it can to ensure that Malaita Province will be one of the success stories of our country's hosting of the festival in 2012.

"The key to achieving this lies in the initiative of our leaders and people to take ownership of this festival, as well as in working closely together in this Endeavor. I am confident that by putting our heads together we can achieve our dreams for this festival".

"This festival will remind us and help enforce our arts and cultures, the cornerstones to the existence of our customs and traditions within our complex and diverse societies, of and from which peace, unity and harmony will prevail amongst the people of the sovereign state of Solomon Islands, our beloved country," Sir George said.

The team also visited a number of sites in and around Auki as part of its program. The visiting FOPANOC delegation included Sir George Lepping, Artistic Director Dennis Marita, Administrative Director Charles Matanani and Chairman of Media and Communications George Herming.