A shared dream

Bex Peterson and Sharleen Ali in Suva on Wednesday, November 16, 2022. Picture: JONACANI LALAKOBAU

It may not be often that acute business acumen and a true passion for the arts be found in a single sentence let alone an individual. Sharleen Ali, owner of The Festivals Company has both in spades and her company does not fall short of portraying that passion.

“I want The Festivals Company to be a platform where all creative artists can come and just be who they are, and I can help them be someone extraordinary and push them to the international stage. Event planning just came as an added passion to that to make it all more sustainable as a business,” she said.

Despite having officially started her own company only a year ago, Ms Ali had already been in the field for years working alongside her parents with their event management company since 2008.

She had long wanted to do her part to support the local art industry but hadn’t made the push till 2021.

“I think I was lacking a bit of courage prior to last year and I think COVID — sitting down in your isolated room, it gives you that feeling of ‘you know what maybe I can do this’.

“I have always had a huge passion for the creative industry and The Festivals Company is actually a platform for the creative industry, for the creative artists.”

Ms Ali has recently subcontracted the company of popular singer Sassy (Bex Peterson) and the two creative businesswomen now share the dream of bridging the gap between Fiji and the international stage and building sustainable careers for local artists.

Through Peterson’s LewaStrong movement, the events the companies are organising will also highlight the importance of addressing mental health concerns and dire social issues affecting people across the gender spectrum through their events and through the promotion of the arts as a positive outlet for pent up emotion.

Ms Ali is working towards building sustainable pathways for the arts on a corporate level to encourage funding agents to recognise the importance of supporting all forms of art across the board.

“That’s the sad part of it; culturally and traditionally Fiji is so rich in everything to do with the arts and it’s not just in the performing arts; in the visual arts, the creative arts.

“Every aspect of Fiji is so artistically driven so it’s really sad to see that it’s been pushed to the corner and we’ve forgotten that Fiji is based in the arts.”

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