The festival is set to take place this year, after being postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2022.
The Committee of the MACFEST has begun an awareness campaign, according to member Robert Koran. They will be going around schools on Efate to talk about the event and the schools’ participation during the event.
The awareness will also be extended to the communities around Efate, especially on what they are expected to do in preparation for and during the festival.
Director of Vanuatu Kaljoral Senta (VKS), Richard Shing, confirmed in an interview on Kizzy Kalsakau’s Show on Buzz FM that they expect at least 4, 500 participants from various participating countries as well as visitors.
The festival aims to preserve, promote, and protect the unique and diverse cultures in the Melanesian region, which is one of the most culturally diverse regions in the world. It also aims to showcase not only the entertainment aspect of customs and cultures but also the practical benefits of their preservation.
The festival started in 1996 in the Solomon Islands and has been hosted by different Melanesian countries since then.
The theme of this year’s festival is ‘Rebuilding my Melanesia for our common destiny,’ which aims to highlight how customs and cultures can assist in overcoming natural and human-made disasters. There will be one or two conferences based on the theme, featuring traditional practitioners, academics, and experts in the fields of customs and culture.
One of the main highlights of the festival is the use of technology to preserve customs and culture, with events to be live-streamed for those who cannot attend in person. This makes Vanuatu the first ever Melanesian country to digitize the whole event.
According to the director, the committee has also extended invitations to the Torres Strait through the Australian government, the South Sea Islanders, and West Papua, in addition to participating Melanesian countries.
The MACFEST is an important pillar in the establishment of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG), which commits to promoting Melanesian cultures, traditions, and values as well as those of other indigenous communities.
Vanuatu has previously hosted four National Arts Festivals, demonstrating the country’s commitment to recognising and protecting its heritage.
With the use of technology and a focus on preserving customs and culture, the Melanesian Arts and Cultural Festival is set to be an exciting and informative event that celebrates the unique and diverse cultures of Melanesian countries.