Developing Sports and Culture, the Way Forward
Currently, the sports and culture ministries fall under the same minister. In the minds of most Barbadians these two ministries rank poorly when compared to finance, economic affairs, health, education and foreign affairs. This is unfortunate, the ability of Barbados to sustain a lifestyle anchored in consumption requires a never ending quest to be competitive by fully developing all of our productive sectors.
The current reality which sees Barbados totally reliant on tourism in 2012 sums it up. On this note BU restates its support for Trevor Browne and Craig Archer who have taken on the Herculean task to oust the ensconced Steve Stoute and Erskine Simmons. And also call on Erskine ‘Boozer’ King, head of the national sports council, to step aside. With a new leadership in position at two of our critical sports authorities there is hope that a new dispensation will breed success.
Despite half billion investment in ‘traditional’ education annually by successive governments the potential of sports and culture remains hidden in the rough. An example of how serious we are about culture and how we treat with stakeholders in this sector can be seen in the initiative to find a solution for the restoration of the Empire theatre. One year later, nothing.
How about a minister who manages one of the more demanding ministries of government but refuses to step down from the presidency of the Barbados Football Association (BFA). It does not matter that in the last four years Barbados has fallen to 175th in the FIFA rankings.
To cap how serious we are about culture we turn to the Cultural Industries Bill (CIB) which this government found in draft when it assumed office. Another general election looms and the CIB still has to be debated in the House of Assembly. If government was serious about seeking ways to expand our productive sectors, proclaiming the CIB would have been a year one priority. If government was serious about Sports a national strategic plan would have been mobilized in year one of its term. Instead we continue to squeeze the tired economic model which has outlived its relevance in today’s world.
BU wishes the Barbados government every success enacting the CIB albeit at the eleventh hour. From all reports Minister Stephen Lashley will be relying on grants – did we hear 50 million? – from the EU/UNESCO to kick start the culture sector. The following story maybe of interest. One of the great heritage sites in Europe is under threat because of the inability to source funding. One wonders how successful Andrew Senior et al can be in brokering scarce funding from the EU/UNESCO for the Barbados government. We know there is a lot riding on the deal with KIVA waiting in the wings but it is what it is.
Where there is no vision…