Gavin “Djata” Smith

Bermuda Day Grand Marshal 2023, A Bermudian Renaissance

Gavin “Djata” Smith began working in the arts and entertainment industry as a child. He first started helping his father to organise local Steel Pan revues in hotels and later helped to produce large concerts with global artists including Bermuda’s first ever hip-hop concert featuring Busta Rhymes and Naughty By Nature. This early exposure to the arts had a lasting impression on Mr. Smith, who would go on to pick up music himself as a musician and singer/songwriter while studying Graphic Design at Savannah College of Art & Design.

Upon returning to Bermuda, he immediately jumped into using his new design & marketing skills to help grassroots initiatives to promote peace and love through concerts, fundraisers, and forums designed to help heal and empower the Black community. In the 2002 general election, he and his team introduced the Gombey Liberation Party, a campaign to show the power of one, and the need for a new voice of change to be heard.

With the birth of his daughter Eden in 2004, Mr. Smith joined The Phoenix Group of Companies as Senior Designer. While there, he helped reintroduce The Phoenix Stores brand to the public, helping to strengthen the design, web and social media platforms of Bermuda’s leading pharmaceutical chain. He also led the brand development of new businesses and acquisitions including Brown &  Co., P-Tech, Phoenix Kidz and a rebranding of SAL Ltd., Bermuda’s largest building materials supplier.

During this time, he also founded what would become his life’s work to date, The Chewstick Foundation. Under his leadership, what began as a bi-weekly local open-mic in 2002, turned into Bermuda’s leading cultural arts charity by 2009, becoming known locally and globally as Bermuda’s hub of culture and expression. His time at Chewstick has changed the fabric of local society, creating countless opportunities for artistic development; helping people to find their creativity, supporting creatives in developing careers, and helping the world to recognise there is more to Bermuda than beaches, golf and yachts. Through Chewstick, Mr. Smith has broken down barriers, created economic stimulus and renewed hope in the grassroots community.

During its height, Chewstick received rave reviews in global media for signature events such as Bermuda’s Good Friday KiteFest and Bermuda’s Beachfest Emancipation Celebration. Mr. Smith became known as a major agent of positive change and successfully demonstrated the power of arts to break down walls and build bridges in Bermuda’s polarised community.

 Note: Mr. Smith did not appear as an entry in the Bermuda Day Parade as he was a host on the CITV stream on Church Street!