St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) has put forth bold intentions of hosting a carnival in the metaverse, which would make it the first nation to do so in the digital world.
The country has not hosted its premier culture festival Vincy Mas for two years due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. The carnival usually starts at the end of June.
During SVG's budget debate in the House of Assembly last week, the Minister of Culture Carlos James, in signalling the possibility of a carnival this year, said the pandemic has caused the world to reimagine the way in which things are done, including participation in cultural spaces.
“It is therefore only natural that St Vincent and the Grenadines will be the first Caribbean island and possibly the first country in the world to explore and begin the exploration of the possibility of hosting its first carnival within the metaverse,” he was quoted in Loop News.
Metaverse refers to an immersive 3D digital world that focuses on social connection facilitated by the use of virtual and augmented reality headsets.
The concept was first coined by sci-fi writer Neal Stephenson in his 1992 novel Snow Crash, in which the main character, a pizza delivery driver, socialises in an online virtual fantasy world.
The push for metaverse, however, has been accelerated by the evolution of the Internet, and global digital transformations induced by the pandemic as the world scrambles to define the 'new normal'.
According to Bloomberg analysts, the global metaverse revenue opportunity could approach US$800 billion in 2024.
Simpler versions of a metaverse experience such as games like Roblox or Fortnite are already available, and Facebook recently rebranded as Meta, signalling the shift towards augmented and virtual reality.
But SVG is not the only Caribbean nation that has expressed interest in the digital realm. Barbados has also indicated intentions of developing an embassy in the metaverse. With the adoption of digital currencies in eight nations, the Caribbean is already quickly emerging as global leaders in digital finance, so the possibility of the region tapping into the metaverse is not unlikely.
SVG's culture minister added that officials have started discussions with persons of interest and “very soon”, they will be putting together a working plan to advise the Government for approval on how the country can tap into the virtual space to provide the right avenues for creatives to express themselves and to earn revenue.
Additionally, for a second year, the Government will continue to give support to artisans and the creatives following the eruption of the La Soufriere volcano and the impacts of the pandemic.
The support is valued at EC$120,000 and will be shared across six Mas bands, several arrangers, pan men, Mas men, calypsonians, cultural ambassadors and soca artistes.