It was in February of 1974 at a general meeting of the Nevis Dramatic and Cultural Society that the previous Christmas festival was part of the discussion. It was felt that much of the old familiar troupes were missing and that some of the activities indigenous to Nevis at Christmas time were lacking.
Lengthy discussions as to what improvements could be made and suggestions of another festival at Easter time was looked at. At that time the suggestions of another was not given serious consideration, but it was at the next general meeting of the group that Calvin “Cabo” Howell, the Vice President stressed the need and urgency to start to preserve our customs and folk art, as these were rapidly declining in our community.
Having secured a name, the time of the year was the next step. The people of Nevis are mainly of African descent and since we celebrate the freedom of slaves (Emancipation) on Nevis the first day in August, it was decided that there was no better time than the August weekend for the event. The first programme included Dancing, Drama, Display, Old Fashion Troupes (i.e Johnny Walkers, Giant and Spear, Bulls, Red Cross, Blue Ribbon etc.) Folk Singing and Arts and Crafts. A local recipe competition and the Miss Culture Show and Calypso Competition.
The Nevis Dramatic and Cultural Society’s main purposes for this Cultural Festival are:
- To give a vital thrust to our dying traditional customs.
- To stimulate an interest in the wealth of our cultural heritage (local folk art).
- To receive and create a climate in which indigenous folklore can reassert itself and flourish. And of course a secondary purpose was to raise funds to build a Community Center to serve as a necessary base for the projection of Cultural Awareness Programmes.
About The Creators And Planners
The creation and planning of this event which has been one of the outstanding Caribbean festivals was the work of Mr. Calvin “Cabo” Howell. A dramatic enthusiast, along with his group came up with the idea for such a celebraton out of his love for just ‘plin ole’ puttingon shows. Also responsible for the sucess in the creation were the first organizers of the first ever celebration. Among them were Irma Johnson, Victor Jay Martin, Lyra Richards, Tyrone “Bahowlah” O’flaherty, Melford Henville and Clifford “Boots’ Griffin, and many others who worked behind the scenes. The one common quality within the small nucleus of founding members was a sense of dedication to the promulgation of the Arts. Through their extensive research and documentation attempts to better understand the influences which shaped the lives of our fore-bearers and to present these through a medium of stage in song, dance and other art forms during these celebrations. From its inception, Culturama is the bringing to life of Nevisian Cultural Heritage. It is a time when our people are awakened to appreciate our unique life-style. It is a time when our people become aware and are taught to respect our culture. It is a five day (sometimes seven) day exposition of folk art in all forms. It is festival with a difference and it is educational and entertaining. The first festival held in 1974 did not set out to outdo the National Carnival, neither is it competitive , but year after year hundreds of Nevisians from abroad and visitors alike feel somewhat compelled to return for the occasion and to grasp the essence of the true Nevisian life.