SOG, Dow move steelpan school to Festival Village

PHILIPSBURG–The foundation for government buildings Stichting Overheidsgebouwen, (SOG) signed a one-year agreement on Wednesday with Isidore “The Mighty Dow” York to house his steelpan classes at St. Maarten’s Festival Village.

Talks started several months ago and parties agreed to move the Dow Musical Foundation steel pan programme, which will resume in August, to the Village.  

The Dow Musical Foundation also has a steel pan class for tourists and resumed those classes on Wednesday. Daily, tourists who have signed up with tour operators will get a chance to learn how to play the steelpan.

SOG President Kurt Ruan, Secretary Cylred Richardson and Treasurer Marco London signed the agreement with York on Thursday during an ongoing tourist steelpan class at the Festival Village VIP section. York said some booths will be used as classrooms while different sections will be used for bigger classes.

“The Village is a big place and we have many students. This is much bigger than our former location on A.Th. Illidge Road. I would like to thank SOG for partnering up with the foundation and we hope to create a constructive and safe learning environment for the children and adults that attend our programme,” said York.

He said he has more than over 750 youngsters learning the steelpan.

Ruan said the Village could be used to its full potential and this can create the kind of attraction originally intended for the Festival Village when it was built.

“Mighty Dow is known for teaching steelpan and this way we can preserve our culture and heritage by having a stable location for the school and create a new type of entertainment for Philipsburg,” Ruan said.

York said he still intends to utilise the land given to him by Government to build a steelpan school in Sucker Garden, but the project will take longer than expected. “This is an immediate solution and this partnership with SOG is more than just renting space, but Dow Musical Foundation wants to host more shows for the public,” he said.

The steelpan foundation under York’s leadership was established in 1991. It helps foster, educate and promote the love of steelpan music in St. Maarten. Dow Musical Foundation was established in 2005 for the production and hosting of shows, artistes and bands, and the encouraging of a broader level of musical entertainment on the island.

“The intention of the programme is to enhance activities in the Festival Village. This will give our local talent of steelpan music a grand location. Students from public education and secondary education will also be taught steelpan classes in the Village. The agreement is for one year and an evaluation will take place after the year is completed. I want to stress that the Carnival activities will in no way be hampered by this move from SOG,” said Ruan on Thursday.

There are presently five booths in the Festival Village and they are open for business. SOG invites aspiring booth-holders to sign up and become booth-holders, and encourages the public to come to the Village and support these booth-holders. For more information, call SOG offices at 543-0507.

Source: The Daily Herald