Cultural Invasion

We’ve been wondering for a while now how to start our cultural activities here. The level of their local music and dancing is quite high, as we have had the pleasure to admire during the July festival. This does put a bit of pressure on whatever we deicide to do, to match or at least come close to the intensity of their cultural manifestations. We went to see some official of the French administration, and from there were sent to the local Marquesan government and ended up in the office of Deborah, a lucid and openhearted personality. Her husband, who had tragically died in the mysterious disappearance of a plane eight years ago, had been described to us as the Pope of Marquesan culture. She had been involved in the renown biannual Festivals of traditional arts and seemed to be one of the local movers and shakers, doing double duty as deputy mayor of the town and regional director of urban development. We patiently listened to the usual song that there were no funds for cultural activities. We nonchalantly bypassed the standard questions about the remuneration for our activities by saying that we would like to offer something for free as a start and then we could go from there. What can you do! If people would have the same attitude towards culture and the arts than they do towards gas, soft drinks and cigarettes, there would not be so many starving artists.

We ended up planning two afternoons of Latin American Dance workshops, one for kids and one for adults each. Some paperwork had to be done to secure the use of the space, an outdoor patio in the local primary school, with which Deborah kindly helped us out. Then it was once again time for the groundwork of any performing artist worthy of that name: Hanging flyers. Off we went with scotch tape and thumb tacks and a fresh stack of photocopies in our backpacks, and visited stores, restaurants, lunch wagons, post office and schools, all the while handing out card size versions of the flyer directly to suitable candidates for our classes along the way. There can be only few other professions that are so marginalized that you have to create your own infrastructure from scratch everytime, just to be able to start doing your job.

Wednesday morning we will do a short demonstration, again free of charge, at the primary school to get the word out. The friendly couple at the lunch wagon where we put one of our flyers, tells us that since it’s free, the whole village will be there. Don’t we hope that it is true! There’s two more days left to continue the publicity blitz and we shall keep you posted about how it all went. At the very least we should be able to make some friends…

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