Lautem Cultural Festival Project, April 2013

Festival theme for 2013: 'Protecting Endangered Cultural Heritage'

The inaugural Lautem Cultural Festival took place between 5 and 7 April 2013 with outstanding success. More than 4000 people attended over the course of the weekend and the event attracted local and foreign tourists from across the district and Timor-Leste. The festival theme for 2013 was Protecting Our Endangered Cultural Heritage.  To this end, peforrmers from the five sub-districts and three language groups of the Lautem district came together to share their cultures with each other and with visitors from near and far.  Festival participants observed demonstrations of music, dance, storytelling, cooking and soap making. Endangered forms of cultural practice, such as vaihoho singing, shared mainstage with newer ideas such as the Funky Fashion Parade which had the audience in hysterics The Festival Fair featured cultural products, food and drinks which were a hit with local community members and tourists alike. The Galeria Arte Vida hosted its first ever exhibition with a set of photos of cultural groups across Lautem preparing for the Festival.

The Festival weekend was preceded by a seminar on 'Preserving our Endangered Cultural Heritage', an event attended by a capacity audience comprising local school students, teachers, researchers, cultural experts and government and non-government professionals, as well as international NGO representatives. Seminar speakers included:  Senora Isabel Ximenes, Secretary of State, Art and Culture; Senor Mericio Akara, Diretor Exekutiv, Luta Hamutuk, Dili; Senora Maria Madeira, artist and PhD researcher, and; Many Hands International cultural research team members Justino Valentim, Maria dos Santos, Frederico Caetano, Ildefonso da Silva who work on the Preserving Endangered Forms of Fataluku Cultural Expression Project.  The seminar program is available here in Tetum and English.

The aim of this twelve month project was to support the development of an economic base for social and cultural wellbeing, resilience and capacity within the communities of the Lautem district through the staging of a cultural festival and the development of a framework for future festivals that support tourism, business and infrastructure development for the people of Lautem. To manage the development and staging of the festival, MHI established the Lautem Cultural Festival Commission, comprising local community members, cultural practitioners and representatives of local NGOs and government. Members participated in a wholly voluntary capacity and MHI supported them to develop skills in all aspects of developing and staging a cultural festival, including programming, promotions, logistics and the development of systems for good governance and accountability.

The Festival was presented by Lautem Festival Community Committee led by Sr. Jose Monteiro, and supported by AusAID's East Timor Community Assistance Scheme, the Department of Education, Lautem District and Many Hands International.

More information: media release ( English and Tetum); Festival postcard and program information (Tetum/English) available here.

Festival videos: Lautem Women's Dance Group in rehearsal, Youth Performing Group,

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