Preparing a Village

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The LESC Conference Centre seen from the site of the Village Marketplace

Delegates attending the UNCTAD 15 Conference won’t need to go far to encounter a taste of quintessential Barbadiana, complete with locally made confectionary and crafts. In the lead-up to the Conference, an approximately two-acre parcel of land directly opposite the LESC Conference venue is being meticulously developed to provide a green recreational space for delegates to the UNCTAD 15 Conference.

The bustling conference centre is separated by a busy main road from this virgin land, and the two areas couldn’t be more different from each other – a study in contrasts. The land which is being transformed will not only be a space where delegates can take a break from the conference proceedings, but one where they will encounter some of the best that Barbados has to offer, and learn more about the island’s culture. The Village Marketplace will recreate a typical Barbadian village, featuring local food, craft, entertainment by emerging and established Barbadian artistes, and even a rum shop – a typical feature of village life in Barbados.

Event Manager, Adisa Andwele

Adisa Andwele is event manager for the Village Marketplace, and is charged with responsibility for developing the site in time for UNCTAD 15. Adisa is an experienced cultural administrator, and has coordinated and/or produced some of the biggest cultural/entertainment events in Barbados. He has also worked in that capacity throughout the Caribbean. 

Creating the Concept

Adisa explains that, “The whole area is going to be a green area, a relaxing space with Bajan motifs from beginning to end. There will be an open-air meeting place of about 10,000-feet with a 50 x 60 foot dome. Pun de block will be another meeting space, like what happens when people come together and reason. There will also be a green lookout area where you can take in the scenic view.” The site plan also includes kiosks for crafts-persons and vendors, and a stage for entertainers to perform. Strategically placed tables and benches will offer convenient opportunities for conversation.

As Adisa outlines, “The Village will be set-up with Bajan chattel houses to accommodate a wide cross-section of creatives presenting fine art, pottery, basketry, fabric designs, leather works, furniture, creative wood-works, etc.” This space will provide a wonderful opportunity for Barbadian creatives. Adisa has clear ideas about the selection process. He says, “Due to the specific design and concept of the UNCTAD Village, great care is being taken to identify Barbadian artists, craft-persons, fashion designers, manufacturers and general creatives who will be able to showcase and sell their works while helping to replicate the authentic feel of a Barbadian village.”

Members of the national Organising Committee touring the site

It’s not only the visual arts and craft that will be showcased, but culinary arts as well. As with the creative artists, Adisa has the right type of culinary providers in mind. “The same goes for the food vending which necessitates levels of production capacity, creativity, health standards and specialist menus. The food vending will cover a wide variety of dishes, including vegetarian and vegan meals and drinks.” De Rum Shop will have a seating deck which could be used as a meeting place for small groups.           

As for those who will be taking to the stage to show off their talents, “It is proposed that the entertainment will feature young talented musical artistes during the day through the Barbados Community College music programme and others. The evening shows will feature some of Barbados’ established entertainers covering a variety of genres.”

Doing the Preparatory Work

Over the past several months, the bushy overgrown lot has been transformed from its wild natural state, and there’s still a lot more work to be done. When the first site visit by members of the UNCTAD 15 National Organising Committee occurred on 14 February 2020, the place was thick with wild bush and trees, but its potential was very evident. Every effort is being made to preserve a large old tree in the space. It is expected to be a focal point with Bajan art motifs.

The Ministry of Transport and Works has been involved in clearing the site

Work on clearing the land began in earnest from February 2020. The National Organising Committee has been fortunate to secure the excellent cooperation of two government agencies – the Ministry of Transport and Works (MTW) and the National Conservation Commission (NCC) – which have been fully involved in the process. By November, NCC had the land cleared and MTW had levelled or graded the land. By November 2020, a production entrance had also been cleared at the far side of the lot at 1st Avenue Haggatt Hall. This will allow craft and food vendors and persons involved in the entertainment productions to access the facility through a separate entrance.

The next phase is for the NCC to plant the grass and start the beautification process, which will include plants, paving stones and directional signs. But before that can happen, the Barbados Water Authority will need to first install water to the site. All of these elements on the “to do” list of the workplan are gradually being ticked off, so that come October, the Village Marketplace will be ready to welcome participants.

Making Memories

From concept to reality, it is taking teamwork to prepare this village, which is likely to be a favourite spot for participants in the UNCTAD 15 Conference.

No doubt it will not only be a marketplace for Barbadian craft, culinary and entertainment products, but one where conference delegates will make lasting memories of their encounters with Barbados and Barbadians.

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