A fi­esta of Bhutanese arts, cul­ture and mu­sic

Bhutan Times - - Home - Con­trib­uted by Namkhai Norbu , For­mer Ed­i­tor Bhutan Times

Bhutan In­ter­na­tional Fes­ti­val (BhIF), a first-of-its-kind fes­ti­val to pro­mote, ex­hibit and de­pict Bhutanese arts, mu­sic and cul­ture to in­ter­na­tional and lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties, will be held in Thimphu from Fe­bru­ary 14-23 this year.

Cog­nizant of the fact that 2015 is a spe­cial year for Bhutan, the 10-day event is per­fectly timed con­sid­er­ing the 60th Birth An­niver­sary of the Fourth Druk Gyalpo, His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck, the ‘ Visit Bhutan Year 2015’, and 35th Birth An­niver­sary of His Majesty the King Jigme Kh­e­sar Nam­gyel Wangchuck on Fe­bru­ary 21 this year.

BhIf is, there­fore, sched­uled at this ideal time to cel­e­brate the evolv­ing cul­ture of Bhutan. The fes­ti­val is a cel­e­bra­tion of Bhutanese arts, cul­ture, and mu­sic; simultaneously also en­abling lo­cal artists to col­lab­o­rate with their in­ter­na­tional artists/coun­ter­parts. This col­lab­o­ra­tion is en­vis­aged to make the event unique in Bhutan and the world as well.

The main ob­jec­tive of BhIF is to high­light and pro­mote Bhutanese artists and per­form­ers of all gen­res and give them a plat­form to showcase and col­lab­o­rate with in­ter­na­tional artists. It’s en­vis­aged that this will also pro­vide them an op­por­tu­nity to dis­play and ex­pand their tal­ents, prod­ucts and out­lets.

The event is also ex­pected to help in boost­ing tourism and in pro­mot­ing Bhutan as an ex­cit­ing travel des­ti­na­tion. Tourists will have an ex­cit­ing op­por­tu­nity to ex­pe­ri­ence the won­ders of Bhutan, in its fullest splen­dor with unique col­lab­o­ra­tions, art in­stal­la­tions and per­for­mances.

The Arts Co­or­di­na­tor of BhIF, Pu­nam Rai, de­scribes the 10-day fi­esta as ‘a fes­ti­val for the first time that is solely based on putting spot­light on lo­cal tal­ents’, even though there are a lots of in­ter­na­tional artists par­tic­i­pat­ing.

The fes­ti­val, ac­cord­ing to pho­tog­ra­phy cu­ra­tor Upasana Da­hal, will ren­der a plat­form for Bhutanese artists to col­lab­o­rate and present their works in an in­ter­na­tional plat­form.

“It’s a 10-day cel­e­bra­tion of the arts and its com­po­nents, such as pho­tog­ra­phy, films, mu­sic, food,” she added. “It will build a cross­cul­tural col­lab­o­ra­tion with Bhutan, to cre­ate and fi­nance new op­por­tu­ni­ties in the realm of cre­ative arts. It will showcase Bhutan at its most mag­i­cal state and pro­vide a new plat­form for artis­tic ex­pres­sion.”

Ap­prox­i­mately 50 in­ter­na­tional artists and mu­si­cians will per­form, ex­hibit and col­lab­o­rate with Bhutanese in­dige­nous artists and per­form­ers dur­ing the ten-day fes­ti­val. There will be five ma­jor events un­der the BhIF – the Art Fes­ti­val, Thimphu In­ter­na­tional Mu­sic Fes­ti­val, Bhutan In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val, Bhutan In­ter­na­tional Marathon and Bhutan In­ter­na­tional Food Fes­ti­val.

And while the event is to showcase and pro­vide an out­let for Bhutanese and in­ter­na­tional artists, it’s not set on a com­mer­cial ba­sis to earn profit. The BhIF is ex­pected to support arts in Bhutan from the pro­ceeds that may build up dur­ing the event and be­come sus­tain­able there­after.

The BhIF or­ga­niz­ers hope to make the event self-sus­tain­ing through mul­ti­ple fund rais­ing ac­tiv­i­ties. It’s also hoped to make the BhIF an an­nual event from 2015 to po­si­tion Bhutan as a cre­ative heavy­weight on the in­ter­na­tional cir­cuit of art events.

The ini­tial con­cept to hold such an event, mean­while, was sug­gested by Mr. James Fitzger­ald, a New York based busi­ness­man and en­tre­pre­neur, and the Founder and Chair­man of Bhutan Ven­tures. Mr. Fitzger­ald had then re­cruited Mr. Justin Wick­ham, a for­mer UK Doc­u­men­tary Pro­ducer and Di­rec­tor of BBC Tele­vi­sion, and the Founder and Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor of non-profit ed­u­ca­tion group Learn­ing Planet based in Nepal and In­dia. The duo, there­after, be­gan to seek part­ners and spon­sors for the fes­ti­val.

Presently, the co­or­di­na­tors of BhIF com­prise dif­fer­ent in­di­vid­u­als work­ing through their own per­sonal ini­tia­tives. The pro­moter of the BhIF will, how­ever, be “Dragon Fes­ti­val’, which will be es­tab­lished as a non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion in Bhutan. Dragon Fes­ti­val will then work along­side As­so­ci­a­tion of Bhutanese Tour Op­er­a­tors as its prin­ci­pal part­ner.

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