Country Profile: Fiji
Stephanie LaRue


Capital: Suva
Official Language: English
Population: 849,000

Introduction

Comprised of more than 300 volcanic and coral islands, the Fiji archipelago is at the crossroads of the South Pacific. In the days of sailing ships, it was known as The Cannibal Isles and carefully avoided by mariners because of its fierce warriors and treacherous waters. More recently, Fiji's tropical climate and location on Pacific air routes have made it a prime spot for tourists.
Fiji Art is the complete presentation of the Fiji Culture to the visitors or the tourist either in a form of smart souvenir or often in the shape of beautifully crafted wooden handicrafts. Art and Craft of Fiji is various and really some good pieces are crafted out and are used locally or as presentations in the Fijian ceremonies. The Fiji Art is generally a craft ware of either wood or it is in the weave form as mostly the Pacific Island Art favors either any one of the two or simply a balance between the two products. The weaving material of Fiji Art is done from two sources namely Pandanus and Coconut. The process of weaving is quite lengthy and hectic and it usually takes number of days before the materials are ready to be weaved.
Weaving is an important part of Fiji Art and beautiful variety of mats, everyday baskets, hats etc. are the outcome from these Pandanus and Coconuts. The weaving process also expands to the making of white hats and bags. Another significant souvenir of Fiji Art is “The Tapa Cloth material” and its origin is from the mulberry leaves. The Mulberry leaves are subjected to various processing’s before they take the form of fine traditional clothing of the Fijians. The popularity of the material is expanding and it has also taken the form of fine wall pictures along with wrappings and other dressing ensemble



Profile of an Accomplished Artist


Margaret Aull has paternal links to Fiji and is inspired by both her Fijian and Maori (Te Rarawa, Tuwharetoa) heritage. Margaret received a Bachelor of Media Arts from Waikato Institute of Technology in 2006. She has exhibited extensively in New Zealand since 2005 and most recently held her first solo exhibition entitled Na Kena Yali at Arts Post, Hamilton. Margaret works as the National Arts Registrar at Te Wananga o Aotearoa in Te Awamutu.






Profile of a Successful Arts Organization

Since its inception in 1964, the Fiji Arts Council (FAC) has been engaged in various activities to encourage and promote the works of our artists and craftspeople. The FAC coordinates national programmes and activities to develop and promote visual, performing and fine arts as well as traditional and contemporary craft. In expanding from its original role as a coordinating body for the presentations of overseas artists, the Council is playing an important role in the preservation, revitalization and promotion of living heritage and arts. Registered as a formal organization under the Charitable Trust Act the FAC receives a grant from government together with a service agreement annually. FAC has begun to provide a supporting role in organizing the cultural components of national events such as Fiji Day and cultural activities associated with international events. It coordinates Fiji's participation at regional and international festivals such as the Pacific Arts Festival, held every four years and the Melanesian Festival, first held in 1998 in the Solomon Islands. FAC maintains a database of local artists, craftspeople, cultural groups, musicians and dancers to assist in their promotion and development.



Teacher Training Programs

By developing nations’ standards, Fiji has a very high percentage of trained teachers. For example, in 1986, 95.3 per cent of secondary teachers and 99 per cent of primary teachers were trained teachers. A logical step for Fiji is to improve the quality of education offered in educational institutions throughout the country. The quest for increasing quality and relevance. Physical education (PE) and school sport must be part of this strive. It is often the practice in Fiji that if exams are near, physical education classes are cancelled for study time; viewed as peripheral; valued little; and often not taught at all. Secondary schools are allocated 80 minutes per week for physical education but it is not formally assessed. Secondary schools have PEMAC (Physical education, music, art and craft) teachers. In 1999, the Fiji College of Advanced Education (FCAE) started a one-year specialist course on Physical education/Music or Physical education/Art for certified teachers. After nineteen students graduated in the first year, there were many others graduating. Since then, FCAE now has a two-year Diploma in PEMAC for secondary teachers. The Fiji Institute of Technology (FIT) has a two year diploma and a one year certificate in sport and physical education.



Funding in Arts Education Programs

Most funding for the arts comes from the tourist industry and from galleries and studios, along with aid from foreign governments. The arts are not always in a prominent place on the political agenda in Africa, Latin-America and Asia. Nevertheless, an increasing number of governments recognise the importance of culture in itself and in connection to social and economic development. Part twenty-six in a series on cultural policy in non-Western countries. A national identity that celebrates and promotes Fiji's cultural diversity and traditional culture. The government of Fiji, an archipelago of three hundred islands in the Pacific Ocean, hopes this vision will stimulate art funding. The program has seven pillars varying from money for dance and literature to cultural development projects for various communities. The fund will also pay for the restoration of historical buildings and saving the cultural heritage. The cultural fund is managed by the Arts Council, a body in the Department of Culture and Heritage established in 1963 that is part of the Ministry for Fiji Affairs. The nine members of the Arts Council are appointed for two years by the minister. They represent the art world and the various ethnic groups in Fiji. Since 1997 Fiji has been working on a cultural policy with help from UNESCO. Art and culture are already part of Fiji's development strategy, in which the government stipulates its policy for sustainable growth. Culture affects every aspect of society, according to the document. The policy provides for a holistic approach to culture. The various government bodies involved in Fiji’s cultural heritage, for example, are to be bundled into an organization. Programs for artists are also to be streamlined. The government also wants to develop a policy for the protection of intellectual ownership and to invest more in art education and eco-tourism. The Department for Culture and Heritage advises the government on policy issues and maintains a national culture databank. It also maintains international cultural relations and organizes Fiji’s participation in art festivals. One important event in the region is the Melanesian Arts & Cultural Festival that has been held every four years since 1998.



Conclusion

When I started this project, I knew nothing about Fiji other than that I always wanted to visit there because it looked gorgeous. Arts aren't as prevalent as I would have guessed, but the art that comes out of Fiji is amazing. The hardest part of the project was picking one artist to do a profile on. All of their art was so unique that I could not pick just one that I liked. I was suprised to learn that there isn't much funding for the arts available. I knew that Fiji was a large tourist country and most of their art funding comes from tourism. Another thing I was suprised to learn about was that there weren't many arts organizations. The Fiji Arts Council coordinates national programs, but they didn't seem to outreach to children but more the "starving" artists of the country. I had previously thought that the natives of Fiji were poor and un-educated so I didn't expect them to have very decent schools with educated teachers. I was wrong. Fiji actually has a high percentage of trained teachers. I didn't see much of a comparison between Fiji and my own art education. I had much incorporation of the arts in my early childhood education, but as I grew older, the arts lacked in my schooling and I focused on the academics. I know that when I get older, I will be busy with a family and a job so I won't have time for the arts. In Fiji, basket weaving is very popular and in my own experiences, we have just gone to the store and purchased whatever we needed, not made it.



Admin. "Art". Fiji Guide. 2010.
http://www.fijiguide.com/page/4351878:Page:60

"The Fiji Secondary School Sport and Physical Education Status Quo and its Influence on Tertiary Curriculum Development". The University of the South Pacific. July 06, 2009.
http://www.usp.ac.fj/index.php?id=6706

Ruigrok, Inge. "Fiji." The Power of Culture. April 2007.
http://www.powerofculture.nl/en/policy/fiji.html

"Fiji Arts Council". Department of Culture & Heritage.
http://www.culture.gov.fj/statorg.htm#arts