18 Jul 2012

Arts festival's progression from preservation to integration

12:45 pm on 18 July 2012

A longtime observer of the Festival of Pacific Arts says the premise for the event has changed since its inception in 1972.

Solomon Islands has just finished hosting the four-yearly, two-week festival, which was attended by about three thousand delegates from 22 Pacific Island countries and territories as well as thousands of Solomon Islanders.

Dr Karen Stevenson, who works at the Oceania Centre for Arts, Cultures and Pacific Studies at the University of the South Pacific in Fiji, has been attending the festival since 1985.

She says one of the most wonderful things for her at this year's event was the integration of the village-oriented past and the more urban-oriented present.

"I was watching kind of like a hip-hop dance thing where they were hurling themselves over a truck and doing all sorts of things like this, I mean very very much, kind of what is happening in urban societies and situations. And then you turn around and you have people that are dancing their custom and their traditional dances, wearing bark cloth, wearing mats, wearing shells and all of their traditional ornaments."

Dr Karen Stevenson says the festival is no longer about preserving a single entity.