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sunday arts B37
he New Fire Festival—a two-day
expo of music and environmen-
tally and socially conscious en-
happen this year.
“It was definitely the most tasking thing
I’ve ever done in my life so far. It really stressed
us and we were in two minds about whether
we would do it again or not,” New Fire founder
Gerry Williams told a gathering at the rotunda
of the First Citizens Corporate Centre, where
the festival was launched recently.
But Williams and his team of organisers felt
T&T needed New Fire.
“Recognising how important it is, especially
given the times we’re in and all the crises that
we face, we knew that we had to. We had no
other choice,” he said.
MC at the launch and festival organiser
Rheanna Chen called New Fire T&T’s “own
transformational festival”, a label popularised
within the last decade for a growing number
of outdoor events around the world that are
built around new age and progressive music,
art, activities and ideas.
“These festivals are the convergence points
for many forms of cutting-edge content. They
are the confluence points for cultural crea-
tives,” documentary filmmaker Jeet Kei Leung
explained in a 2010 TEDx talk.
Among the better-known of the transfor-
mational festivals are the nine-day Burning
Man in Black Rock City, Nevada, which has
more than 2,000 free classes, workshops
and events, the eight-day Boom in Idanha-
a-Nova, Portugal, which is held biennially
and features film screenings and daily sem-
inars and the four-day Shambhala Gathering
in British Columbia, Canada, which has an
organic garden in the middle of the grounds
where it’s held.
“We’re going beyond creating an event
where people just come and have the most
magical, fun time of their lives,” Williams said
of New Fire. “In the design of the festival itself
we hope to inspire the behaviour changes that
we need to see in that new world that we’re
trying to create.”
New Fire 2017 has the theme Discover more.
Among its offerings are yoga, dance and ca-
poeira demonstrations, a guitar appreciation
workshop, a meditation session, massages,
demonstrations on composting and up-cy-
cling, a presentation called Healing with Hen-
na, talks on climate change and permaculture,
a workshop on gender-based violence, and
locally made crafts and foods for sale.
There’s also children’s entertainment in the
form of colouring, mural painting, storytelling
and an introduction to farming.
Images from the 2016 New Fire Festival. Photos courtesy New Fire Festival/ NH Productions.
“We’re really encouraging families to bring
their picnic baskets, their blankets, and real-
ly enjoy what it feels like to be outdoors on a
weekend spending that quality time together,”
said festival co-ordinator Elize Rostant.
The highlight of the event is the musical con-
cert and rave on Saturday night. Freetown, Ni-
gel Rojas, Marge Blackman, Nailah Blackman,
Sheldon Blackman, Buzzrock, and Solman are
among the acts expected to perform.
The festival has a set of “sustainability prin-
ciples” that includes generating as little waste
as possible. Vendors and service providers are
encouraged to recycle and not use non-com-
postable plates and containers to serve food
Patrons are asked to bring their own reusa-
ble food and drink containers. Single-use Sty-
rofoam items, and plastic containers, plates,
utensils and bottles will be confiscated at the
entrance, according to the festival guide.
“We’re hoping to not see any waste coming
from this event that goes to the landfill or the
dump,” said Williams, a musician who started
New Fire as a monthly concert series in 2014
before it took the annual festival format last
year. After taking place in Freeport last year,
this year the festival will be held at a similar
location in Santa Cruz called Green Meadows.
Most of New Fire’s audience come from the
north, and the new spot is more accessible to
them, Williams explained in a phone interview.
Patrons can camp overnight with assistance
from the Scouts Association, who will also of-
fer products like sleeping bags and mosquito
repellent for sale.
The festival is the only one of its kind in the
Caribbean and its organisers hope they can
expand their reach in the future.
“We’ve had a lot of people from other is-
lands reaching out to us who actually want to
participate in the festival. We’re hoping that in
year three we can offer some regional artists
to the stage,” said Rostant.
Financing the event has been one of the
struggles with organising it, Williams told
the Guardian. First Citizens was their only
financial sponsor last year. This year the bank
is joined by two-year-old online recruitment
The New Fire Festival comes off on April 8
and 9 at Green Meadows in Santa Cruz.
Call: 271-1073, 788-0966, email newfirefes-
email@example.com or visit newfireworld.com
for second year
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