Midnight Escape Street Festival: Melting Pot of Excellence, says Minister Duggins

Scenes at the Midnight Escape Street Festival, clockwise from top: PM the Hon Dr Terrance Drew (right) and Minister the Hon Samal Duggins with DJ Tero (centre); St. Peter’s Masquerades leaving the stage; bottom pictures show part of the massive crowd.
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BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, December 26, 2022 (MMS-SKN) — The first Midnight Escape Street Festival, which was held on Bay Road in Basseterre on Saturday December 24, ending early hours of Christmas Day December 25, provided the perfect platform that allowed small scale business persons and cultural practitioners to not only display their talent but to generate economic activity.

The hugely successful event, which was organised by the Department of the Creative Economy in the Ministry of Sports and the Creative Economy, saw the section of Bay Road between College Street Ghaut and Fort Street in downtown Basseterre closed to vehicular traffic to accommodate the hosting of the over 50 vendors, and other carnival street activities and was held as part of the celebrations of Sugar Mas 51.

“As the minister responsible for Small Business and Entrepreneurship, Creative Economy and indeed under the umbrella Carnival, I thought it was important that we bring all these elements together,” said the Hon Samal Duggins.

Minister Duggins, who was present for the entire period, added: “We have small business persons and our entrepreneurs have a venue to display their talent and generate economic activity, sales, and then we have our cultural practitioners and entertainers also having a platform where they could showcase their talents and really use the framework of Carnival to drive their economic activity as was the intention from the beginning.”

He was supported at the event by his Cabinet colleagues, led by Prime Minister the Hon Dr Terrance Drew, Deputy Prime Minister the Hon Dr Geoffrey Hanley, Senior Minister the Rt. Hon Dr Denzil Douglas, and Junior Minister the Hon Isalean Phillip. Also present were senior officials from the Ministry of Sports and the Creative Economy led by Permanent Secretary, Ms Valencia Syder.

“This represents a coming together of all the different ideas in one excellent melting pot,” stated Hon Duggins. “Everyone has a chance to not only to showcase the talent but all the people have the chance to see what is on display because a lot of what we do here, the products that we produce in St. Kitts most people are unaware, and so something like this brings that to the forefront and heightens awareness and gives our entrepreneurs that added market that is essential.”

According to Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Sports and The Creative Economy, Ms Valencia Syder, the event was organised and held primarily for the Ministry to support and celebrate the country’s creatives (artisans), especially coming out of a slow slightly more than two-year period that was occasioned by the Covid pandemic.

“We have food vendors, we have craft vendors, we had folklore, and we have entertainment,” said the Permanent Secretary. “So it is a way to celebrate and support everybody in the spirit of folklore, in the spirit of carnival, and in the spirit of entrepreneurship.”

She expressed that the event exceeded their expectations as there were over 50 businesses and individuals who would have responded to a request that would have been put out by the Ministry. She added that the event had provided the perfect opportunity for the vendors coming especially at a time when a number of nationals are home to enjoy and support the carnival after having missed out in the last two years.

“The aim of the Ministry of The Creative Economy is to always provide a platform for creatives,” said Ms Syder when asked if the Ministry intends to hold a similar event, and when. “We haven’t really pinpointed the exact date, but sometime during the year we plan to do at least one or two more of these, not just wait again until December.”

The event, which was hosted by 5 Star Pino and Sister Sensia, featured Nu Vybes Band, 313 Family, Akaii U Sweet, Dejour, KT Dan, DJ Tero, New Wave Sounds, Mixclusive, Just Jhayii, and Tombstone International. Also making an appearance were the St. Peter’s Masquerades.

The performing stage which was mounted outside the Social Security building was a beehive of activities as one act after another tried to outperform even the master of ceremonies as was witnessed by Sweet Sister Sensia when she emceed an art competition. It pitted the Deputy Prime Minister (yes, and Minister of Education) Dr the Hon Geoffrey Hanley against his Cabinet colleague the Hon Samal Duggins, Permanent Secretary Ms Valencia Syder, and Chair of National Carnival, Ms Shannon Hawley.=

Setting the exam and also invigilating it was Ms Sasha ‘The Artist’ Herbert who said that she gave them an idea that was themed on ‘Midnight Escape’ and also on the colours of the Midnight Escape Street Festival flier which she observed had lots of blue and purple. To give it a local touch she added the Poinciana tree, and completed it with a moon over the tree.=

They were given a blank piece of board, brushes and paint and were let loose, and they started their work artfully splashing paint on the board using the thin brushes. A template had been placed before them to make a replica.

“They actually shocked me – I will be honest,” said Ms Herbert, who is the CEO of Sasha the Artist Art Studio. “In the short amount of time they had, and that level of work they executed, it really, really impressed me. You would think that they had some art classes before they saw it or that I would have guided them along the way, but I didn’t. I was impressed.”

There could only have been one winner, and the winner was the Minister of The Creative Economy, the Hon Samal Duggins. Unfortunately for the highly charged crowd that was baying out to know the full results as to how the other three artists fared, none were announced. However, one excited patron was heard shouting “they are all winners.”


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