Heritage and Arts Festival for USP’s 50th Anniversary celebration
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Artists from USP’s Oceania Centre for Arts, Culture and Pacific Studies (OCACPS) participate in the opening procession, before the official opening.
Professor Derrick Armstrong, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research, Innovation and International, officially opened the “We are the Ocean” Heritage and Arts Festival organised in celebration of The University of the South Pacific’s (USP) 50th Anniversary on 18 July 2018.
Organised by the University’s Oceania Centre for Arts, Culture and Pacific Studies (OCACPS), the week-long festival brought together living culture, heritage and the arts in a fun and interactive way that engages with the wider community.
This festival, which started with an opening procession by artists from the USP Laucala Campus main gate to Oceania Centre Pavilion, is part of the University’s 50th Anniversary celebratory activities and draws on the anniversary theme “Celebrating the Pacific, Shaping its Future”.
In his address, Professor Armstrong shared that the festival draws inspiration from the once popular USP Pacific Week celebrations which the University Student Associations (USPSA) used to facilitate back in the early days.
He informed that back in those days, each member country of the University took on a scheduled week in the academic year and the student associations profiled the culture and arts of their home country.
Country week activities ranged from cultural performances to traditional foods, games and other fun activities.
Professor Armstrong highlighted that the festival attempts to highlight the role of the arts and academia particularly Pacific Studies, which is a multidisciplinary area of study offered at the Oceania Centre.
“A Heritage and Arts Festival is fitting because not only are we celebrating the University’s 50th Anniversary, the Oceania Centre also turns 21 this year,” Professor Armstrong commented.
He relayed that festivals bring people together and all over the world, heritage festivals provide an opportunity to raise awareness about safeguarding of culture.
The title of the Festival “We are the Ocean” is drawn from the writings of the late Professor Epeli Hau’ofa, the founding director of the Oceania Centre and a leading scholar and son of the Oceania region.
Hau’ofa’s works called for a decolonisation of the mind and what he saw as a critical self-reflection on the agency of Pacific islanders to rethink, reclaim and redirect purposeful self-determination.
To this Professor Armstrong added that, this festival provides such an opportunity to rethink the journey taken so far and to really look closely at the heritage and creativity that is unique to the Pacific islands.
Professor Armstrong thanked the organisers for this contribution to the golden jubilee celebrations. Daily events of the festival included Food and Arts Stalls; Art Workshops and Demonstrations; Artists Talks; heritage arts exhibition “Living Objects”, evening cultural performances, fashion shows and music events, daily heritage workshops and artist talks, the poetry and spoken word activities, and mural display.
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