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NOUMÉA, New Caledonia (November 14, 2000 - Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat)---Despite a slow start, the 8th Festival of Pacific Arts held in New Caledonia has been declared a success.

The Festival was plagued by several problems at the beginning. Rainy weather delayed the opening ceremony for several days and there were complaints about the food, accommodations and transportation for participants.

Also, participants were accused of abusing their privileges and there were criticisms that too many French were running the Festival.

Rhonda Griffiths, Cultural Advisor with the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, said organizers learned many valuable lessons for future festivals.

"Nouméa itself is a city so there were a lot of regulations that probably don’t exist in the smaller island countries," Griffiths said. "There were a lot of communication problems that existed because it’s a French speaking territory.

"Although the liaison office was bilingual, there were constant demands made on them for interpretation services. And there was a feeling that some of the information wasn’t getting through," she added.

Griffiths said the closing ceremony, which was held in the festival village and reserved for participants, provided a more intimate setting.

"All of the problems of the past were forgotten and the true aim of the festival was evident then," she said. "The delegates had shared and communicated with other countries, finding old friends and making new ones."

Griffiths said one of the best moves made by festival organizers was to decentralize the event and open it up to outlining parts of New Caledonia.

For additional reports from Radio Australia/Pacific Beat, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia/Pacific Beat.

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