By Benjamin Flowers, Staff Reporter
Over 40 artisans and entrepreneurs gathered on Albert Street for the fifth instalment of the Street Art Festival, hosted by the National Institute of Culture and History (NICH).
For the event, NICH blocked off Albert Street, from the end of Orange Street up to South Street just after Wesley church. The participants had booths selling various items such as jewellery, bags, and handicrafts, as well as foods, wines and snacks.
There were children’s activities including graffiti using chalk on concrete and face painting. Live bands entertained passersby and patrons with music of various genres adding to the ambiance of the area. In the afternoon, the performance group Youth Advocacy Through Arts (YATA), treated the audience, primarily teenagers to its newest play “Deaf Chorus”; a play speaking on issues of gang violence among youth.
Gregory Vernon, director of the Institute of Creative Arts at NICH, explained that they hold the festival in an attempt to trying to rejuvenate the downtown area, as well as promote local art and artists.
“In our artisan stores there are a lot of products imported out of Guatemala, out of China, so we are trying to turn this around,” Vernon said. “We have a program called ‘Unique Belize’ that trains artists so they will be able bring out the best in their art, so we’re very much interested in showcasing them and making sure that they are the highlight of this festival.”
Melissa Badillo from the Institute of Archaeology said that at her booth they were promoting the archaeological and cultural resources of Belize, by teaching the general public how to translate their names into Maya hieroglyphs. They also had the San Antonio Women’s Group teaching children how to make traditional Maya pots.