2022 National Arts Festival winners in Grand Bahama receive awards in person during 2023 festivities; GB student wins Festival Poster Competition

St. George's High School was the overall winner of the 2022 National Arts Festival for Grand Bahama. Deputy Director of Culture, Portia Sands (second from left) poses with teachers and students and their many trophies.

Winners of the 2022 E. Clement Bethel National Arts Festival for Grand Bahama were awarded their trophies, accolades and awards during the staging of the 2023 Festival in Grand Bahama.

Receiving their awards in the same room where only minutes earlier, a session of the adjudication of this year’s festival was held, created a sense of euphoria for last year’s participants and brought back memories of their nervous moments of performances, followed by anxiety of wondering what was going through the minds of the judges.

The exhilaration of the moment was also punctuated with an exclamation point as the winner of last year’s poster competition for the National Arts Festival (overall) was given her rightful recognition. Deputy Director of Culture in the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, Portia Sands, along with Senior Cultural Affairs Officer, Sonovia Pierre and Cultural Affairs Officer, Abby Smith announced that Jaela Bowe, an 11th grade student at Mary, Star of the Sea Catholic School was the overall winner of the poster competition.
The poster competition, which involved students from throughout The Bahamas, was the first of its kind, as the National Arts Festival began rebranding itself.

“This competition came with great accolades,” Abby Smith told those who had gathered in the C.A Smith Building for the awards ceremony on Friday, April 21, 2023. “Not only did Jaela win the competition, but her design will be the standard design on everything that’s related to the National Arts Festival, inclusive of the booklet, posters, flyers, tickets, etc.”

Jaela Bowe has joined a short list of other students who have etched their name in Bahamian history through the National Arts Festival. Over the years, the festival has inspired some of the best Bahamian artists to produce material specifically for the festival.  Material that would ultimately become a part of the festival, either as set pieces or choice pieces.

As for the winners of last year’s festival, which took on a digital format because of the COVID-19 pandemic, St. Georges High School was the overall winner, claiming the top spot in a number of categories.

Other winning schools included Mary Star, Walter Parker Primary, Hugh Campbell Primary, Jack Hayward High, Sister Mary Patricia Junior High, Wilbur Outten Christian School, Bishop Michael Eldon High and Sunland Baptist Academy.

Adjudication for the National Arts Festival is expected to take place on 16 Bahamian islands and Cays this year. In Grand Bahama, students from schools throughout the island have already began exposing their talent to adjudicators, and those sessions will conclude next week.

It is anticipated that the presentation of awards to last year’s winners will serve as motivation in inspiration for participants in this year’s festival, as they prepare for the final sessions.

By ANDREW COAKLEY/Bahamas Information Services

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