WIADCA keeps Caribbean culture alive with year-round workshops

WIADCA executive, L-R: Cecille Ford (secretary, Trinidad and Tobago); Angela Sealy (chairperson, Trinidad and Tobago); Dr. Ionie Pierce (president, Jamaica); Annie Rhea Smith (first vice president, Trinidad and Tobago); and Karen Williams (treasurer, Trinidad and Tobago).at the 2018 launching ceremony of the Carnival Parade at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum.
Photo by Nelson A. King

The Brooklyn-based West Indian American Day Carnival Association (WIADCA), which hosts the annual Carnival Parade on Eastern Parkway every Labor Day Monday, says it is keeping the region’s culture alive by hosting year-round workshops on the artform.

“West Indian American Day Carnival is a creative and artistic expression, public display and joyous occasion,” said Dr. Ionie Pierce, WIADCA’s Jamaican-born president in a Caribbean Life interview on Tuesday, April 23.

“It gives me a sense of joy and pride knowing that the organization’s year-round series of workshops, concerts and annual Labor Day Parade can bring people with different beliefs, traditions and artistic expression together under the banner of education, pride, community and identity,” added Dr. Pierce, who created history last year when she was elected as the first non-Trinidadian to head WIADCA.

“It is also fulfilling that the organization can educate the world on the many different Caribbean cultural art forms through our series of programs, which includes Basic, Intermediate and Advance Wire Bending Workshops, Youth Steel Band Workshops, Carnival Design Workshops, Businesses and Artists Pilot Programs, as well as summer-long series of Pop-Up Carnivals,” Dr. Pierce continued.

She said certificates of completion are presented to every participant on completion of each workshop.

“I share the participants’ excitement and sense of pride as they showcase their weeks of hard work during the graduation ceremonies,” Pierce said. “I feel gratified knowing that we are keeping a culture that is dying alive.”

She said the West Indian American Day Carnival and Parade is the largest carnival in North America.

Pierce said workshop participants come from as far as Japan, Canada, Europe, various Caribbean islands, and “all over United States.”

“The organization benefits from this in that it creates revenue for the organization, so that it can continue its cause, as well as revenue for the state,” Pierce said. “Being able to give back to the community through its workshops, pilot programs and pop-op carnivals, and also scholarships to art and cultural freshmen, the organization is recognized for supporting the community, gain credibility and publicity, and align itself to receive grants and sponsorships.”

The WIADCA head said the purpose of the Wire Bending Workshop is to “relay cultural traditions passed on through generations, explore creative and new entrepreneurial opportunities, and create community camaraderie, tolerance and understanding for this dying art form.”

Pierce said the Youth Steel band Workshop is designed to promote and teach discipline, musical arts and cultural identity.

“The objective of the workshop is to teach awareness, appreciation and understanding of instrument and its impact on Caribbean culture,” she said.

The Artist Pilot Program is aimed at developing partnerships with local artists, businesses and organizations within the community.

“Our aim is to introduce a pilot program to help establishments prosper year-round and to better cultivate relationships with vendors,” Pierce said.

She said the Senior Carnival Design workshop cultivates “new programs and opportunities for this dynamic generation of older adults, whilst activating cultural pride, participation, creativity, strengthening of mental health and wellness, teaching core cultural values, preserving heritage, traditions, history and celebrating their legacy.”

Overall, Pierce said the purpose of the Carnival Design Workshop is to “create a space for Caribbean cultural awareness, tolerance, pride and appreciation.”

“Through the themed workshop series, participants will be taught the skills needed to create a complete Carnival costume, review of Carnival History,” she said.

The following is a list of workshops and their respective dates, times and locations:

Artist Pilot Program: May-June at various restaurants in Brooklyn.

Basic & Intermediate Wire bending: Target audience — 18 years and over; every Saturday from May 4 – June 29; Basic 10 am – 12 noon, Intermediate 1 pm – 3 pm; PS 160 Walter Francis Bishop Elementary School, 109-59 Inwood St., Jamaica, NY.

Advance Wire bending: Target audience — 18 years and over; every Saturday from March 2 – April 27, 1 pm – 3 pm; Antoine International Mas Camp, 245 E 34th St., Brooklyn.

Carnival Design Workshop: Target audience — 6-15 years old; every Saturday from Feb. 2- April 13, 10 am -11:30 am; PS 235 Main Building, 525 Lennox Rd., Brooklyn.

Carnival Design Workshop: Target audience — 6-15 years old; every Saturday from May 4- June 29, 10 am -12 noon; PS 160 Walter Francis Bishop Elementary School, 109-59 Inwood St., Jamaica, NY.

Youth Steelband Workshop: Target audience — 6-18 years old; every Saturday from April 6 – June 29; ages 6-12, 11 am – 1 pm; 13-18 years, 2 – 4 pm; Antoine International Mas Camp, 245 E, 34th St., Brooklyn.

Senior Carnival Design Workshop: Target audience — 60 years old; Steel Band Workshop – every Monday and Thursday, May 2 – June 27, 11 a.m. -1 p.m.; Carnival Design Workshop – every Tuesday, April 9 – April 30, 11 am – 1 pm; St. Gabriel’s Senior Center, 331 Hawthorne St., Brooklyn.

Senior Carnival Design Workshop: Target audience — 60 years old; Steel Band Workshop – every Monday and Wednesday, April 1 – June 24, 10 am -11 am; Carnival Design Workshop – every Thursday, April 4 – June 27, 1 pm – 3 pm; Christopher Blenman Neighbor Senior Center, 720 East New York, Brooklyn.

Senior Carnival Design Workshop: Target Audience — 60 years old; Steel band Workshop – every Thursday, May 2 – June 20, 2 pm – 4 pm; Carnival Design Workshop – every Tuesday, May 6 – June 25, 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.; Fort Greene Remsen Neighbor Senior Center, 3304 Clarendon Rd., Brooklyn.

WIADCA president, Jamaican Dr. Ionie Pierce addresses 2018 Carnival launching ceremony at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum, flanked by WIADCA chairperson Trinidadian Angela Sealy.
Photo by Nelson A. King

More from Around NYC