Backstage to the Future: Caribbean is aimed at developing and nurturing future live event producers and technicians across the outdoor/music live events sector in San Andrés and Providencia (Colombia), Venezuela, Jamaica and Cuba, with a focus on technical and soft skills (communication/networking) for the sector. The programme was delivered through a partnership between the British Council (Cultural Skills and Arts, Colombia) and the Green Moon Foundation of San Andrés and Providencia.
The objectives of the programme (informed by British Council research) are to develop a technical skills training programme focused on live sound engineering, lighting design and operation, stage management and community arts. Derek Richards was commissioned by the British Council to design a 10 day course that would respond to these aims using the Green Moon Festival in San Andrés to provide opportunities for real world hands-on practice and experiential learning.
The process began with a 6day recce visit to San Andrés in July 2017 to meet partners and potential trainees, identify resources and learn about the cultural and industrial context. The next phase involved assembling (virtually) the team of technical trainers, one of whom was recruited by Derek Richards from the UK, with three recruited by the British Council from Jamaica, Venezuela and Colombia. Working with the team, Derek designed a programme that would robustly respond to the British Council’s aims and the local context while having a flexible enough structure to respond to the needs of the participant group as they emerged.
The training was delivered by the team on the island of San Andrés over 10 days in September that included the 1 week Green Moon Festival. The programme is learner-centred, supporting the trainees to identify and set the learning outcomes and embedding self-assessment and programme evaluation in the delivery. In addition to stage managing and technically facilitating a community arts stage and programme at the festival, the trainees were also provided with the opportunity to work on a concert on the main stage in the 20,000 capacity San Andrés baseball stadium. Consulting with Derek Richards to select a band that would meet the Green Moon Festival cultural requirements, this aspect of the festival programme was supported by the British Council.
The project is regarded as hugely successful by all partners. The participants articulated how personally transformative they found the programme in the above video and in the soon to be published project evaluation. Extracts of their responses can also be found here. Backstage to the Future: Caribbean is currently a flagship programme of Cultural Skills at the British Council, viewed as having the potential to play a vital role in the development of the cultural sector in the Colombian archipelago of San Andrés and Providencia and further out into the region.
A selection photographs from the project can be found here.