Cayfest offers the best of the arts

Cayfest, created in 1995, is the Cayman Islands National Festival of the Arts. The festival showcases Cayman’s finest local talent, with an eclectic mix of visual arts, music, theatre, film, fashion design, photography and cultural discussions.  

Cayfest emphasises local arts and culture and is a feast for the sense that should not be missed. Simultaneously the festival sizzles and stimulates, inspiring local artists by including a diverse range of participants. Some highlights of the festival include films from the ever-popular Travelling Caribbean Film Showcase, the National Arts Awards, a Historical Treasure Hunt and the work of countless local artisans and artistic organisations. 

“Cayfest is a wonderful opportunity for artists to be exhibitionists,” says Cayman National Cultural Foundation Managing Director Marcia Muttoo. “And for the public to experience, the ‘best of the best’ that Cayman has to offer from the full spectrum of the arts in Cayman. 

“Think of a colour wheel with all its nuance, brilliance, contrast and harmony. These are the qualities our national festival Cayfest uncovers and celebrates. It is truly a marvellous festival that brings together people of all ages and backgrounds to take advantage of the abundance of amazing talent that we have right here in Cayman when it comes to our creative industries.” 

Three days of exciting events 

The cultural foundation has completely reworked Cayfest into a concentrated three-day programme in February to include the National Arts & Culture Awards, a Dress for Culture Day and an evening of art, craft and entertainment, billed as Red Sky at Night. 

“We’re excited to launch Cayfest 2013 and celebrate Cayman’s diverse arts scene,” says Programmes and Marketing Officer Kaitlyn Elphinstone. 

“We aspire to produce great programmes and engaging activities, all the while supporting local artists and arts organisations in carrying out their work.” 


National Arts & Culture Awards   

On 21 February the foundation will reveal the winners of the 19th Annual National Arts & Culture Awards. The National Arts and Culture Awards recognises those who attain a level of merit in their artistic discipline, contribute to the arts, culture and heritage of the Cayman Islands, whilst supporting the work of the Cayman National Cultural Foundation. Awards are also presented for Volunteer of the Year, Sponsor of the Year and the Chairman’s Award for outstanding long-term support of the foundation’s work. The awards ceremony is an initiative that began in 1990. Each year there is a call for nominations from cultural and heritage organisations, in collaboration with the general public. Past winners include Dave Martins, the creator of Rundown; Leslie Bigelman, a founder of the National Gallery; visual artists Ed Oliver and Joanne Sibley; architect John Doak, dancer Jackie Balls and musical legend Aunt Julia Hydes.  


Dress for Culture Day   

On 22 February the foundation will celebrate Cayman’s cultural tapestry by inviting the public to wear their national dress or colours to work or school. This is an island-wide event and donations raised will go directly to youth and cultural programming. “We must realise that we are more alike than different in our various cultural expressions,” says Programmes and Public Education Officer Lorna Bush. “And by working together we can have a more significant impact on our development as human beings. 

“Setting aside one day specifically to showcase our national dress, food or other memorabilia, is a good start to the weaving of our cultural tapestry.” 


Red Sky at Night festival   

On Saturday, 23 February, from 4pm to 12 midnight, delicately tucked in the midst of colour-saturated trees and shining lakes, the F.J. Harquail Cultural Centre will be transformed for the Red Sky at Night festival! This will be an enchanting evening, rich in arts and culture. Walking through the garden, you’ll be escorted by the sounds of the steel pan, fiddle and drums and lured by a mouth watering array of local culinary delicacies. You will be treated to live performances from dancers, actors and storytellers, as well as creative work by local visual artists and crafts people, including art installations and sculptures. Celebrated films from around the Caribbean and inspiring live performances will be featured within the festival theatres.  

The nightfall arts festival will highlight Cayman’s diverse arts scene, including exquisite visual, culinary, literary, and stage performances, in addition to Caymanian culture and heritage. The foundation has united with over ten sister organizations including the National Museum, National Gallery, Catboat Club, National Archives, Visual Arts Society, Cayman Drama Society and the Astrological Society to create this extraordinary festival. Programmes Manager Rita Estevanovich says: “We are always happy to connect creatively with our sister organisations on events such as Cayfest. 

“Cayfest is Cayman’s national festival of the arts, so it is fitting to have as many of our sister organisations involved as much as possible. The more each of us contributes to the overall festival, the more enjoyable the festival experience is for our residents and visitors alike. Our partnership will give the community a chance to learn about the many important cultural, environmental, historical and artistic programmes we each administer, with the convenience of having representatives from each organisation in one location. It’s a win-win for everyone.” 

Red Sky at Night will also feature the work of over 50 artists, performers and crafts people. 

“The festival supports a range of activities across the arts,” Elphinstone explains.  

Creative art and culture inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves and the world around us. In short, it enriches our lives.”