Artist Ben Fong of USP explains the significance of an artwork to Honourable Dr Mahendra Reddy, Minister for Education, Culture, Heritage and Arts on 17 November 2016.
An art exhibition at The University of the South Pacific’s (USP) Oceania Centre for Arts, Culture and Pacific Studies (OCACPS) at the Laucala Campus was launched by Honourable Dr Mahendra Reddy, Minister for Education, Culture, Heritage and Arts on 17 November 2016.
In his keynote address, Dr Reddy commended USP for investing in arts and for the establishment of the OCACPS, saying it is an area that universities often shy away from.
He said generally the pressure on universities is to generate revenues outside State funding, so the focus is more on offering programmes which can generate more positive returns.
However universities he said, have a positive role to play in terms of helping countries produce the kind of society we want to have in future and the entire Pacific region have a lot of hope from USP in terms of delivering this.
“The establishment of a Centre for performing arts and visual arts is a commendable step by USP. The Performing Arts section is doing extremely well and some of the artistic performances is world-class,” he stated.
He said visual and performing arts is only revealed through the imaginary and creative skills of people and cannot be captured through contemporary means like textbooks and journals.
“It is a commendable output for universities that are able to go outside the traditional role and mainstream this stock of knowledge out in their society which do not fall within the formal sector of the qualification framework,” he stated.
Dr Reddy stressed that institutes such as this allows the University to mainstream this knowledge out there, capture it through visual or performing arts and pass it down to future generations.
“USP must be applauded for the work it is doing towards that,” he mentioned.
“In fact I have been thinking this would be one of the niche areas of USP and no other institution in the entire Pacific has gone this far in terms of capturing Pacific Arts,” he emphasised.
Professor Derrick Armstrong, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research, Innovation and International said our arts community is not for mere entertainment and wall beautification but it is also filled with the sense of continuity with our past, from which we find guidance and inspiration for the future.
“Our oceanic culture defines us, and provides the bases from which we go forth into other worlds telling our stories and in our unique forms.
“From Fiji to Tonga, Samoa, China, Denmark, Norway, Belgium, United Kingdom, Australia, Hawaii and many more, we dance, paint and sing to world issues that affect us, the people of the sea,” he remarked.
The Oceania Centre he said, uses artistic works and performances to help raise the level of local, regional and international awareness of the vulnerability of the Oceania people, her land and cultures, issues such as Climate Change, HIV/AIDS epidemic, cultural demise, victimisation and more.
Today, the Oceania Centre is home to the Oceania Dance Theatre, Pasifika Voices, Oceania Visual Artist, Newsounds Studio, Pacific Studies, Pacific Worlds and Pacific Outreach Programme for Polynesia, based in Apia, Samoa.
“USP’s mission, Towards Excellence in Learning and knowledge Creation, under our Strategic Plan 2013 -2018 reflects our commitment to working closely and cooperatively with all our stokeholds,” Professor Armstrong added.
Titled “Celebration” at the Gallery of Oceanian Art, the exhibition is an opportunity for a select group of artists from within the Oceania Centre and its past members to interpret the theme through their artworks using different materials and mediums; our culture, traditions and today’s society in the Oceania that we call home.
Public viewing is from 18 November-22 December.
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