All This Talk About Culture and What?

The Telegraph article highlighted the EU Office in Barbados

… £1.8million has been handed to the Caribbean island of Barbados to build a hotel and leisure complex where 200 youngsters will be trained each year in hospitality management. The revelations will intensify the row over the UK’s bloated aid budget, which will soon take up 0.7 per cent of our GDP at a time when vital public services are being pared to the bone…

In terms of GDP per capita, Barbados is wealthier than Portugal, Croatia and Hungary.  But the EU has spent millions of pounds on the Hotel PomMarine complex, plus a forensic science laboratory, a language centre and support for the nation’s financial sector.

Mail Online (Daniel Martin)

The excerpt formed the  lead stories in two of the United Kingdom’s leading dailies this week, the Mail Online and The Telegraph. One would never guess though if a half interested Barbadian scanned the local media.

Luxury: The Hotel PomMarine, which was built after the Barbadian Government received millions in handouts from Europe – Mail Online

As Europe continues to battle their economies which have stayed south, a growing voice for the UK government to curb aid to countries like Barbados has been getting louder.  To quote The Telegraph article, “a new poll today by ICM for The Sunday Telegraph showed that 70 per cent of people questioned said overseas aid should be scaled down, not increased. Two-thirds said a ring-fence, which protects it from spending cuts, was wrong.” The unsuccessful challenge of the APD should have taught Barbadians by now that the British government has determined a strategy to draw the wagons around the fire and beat home drums very loud.

Of more than peripheral interest to the Barbados government, Minister Stephen Lashley in particular, has been the revelation quoted in the report that “…the international aid industry had made millionaires out of so-called ‘poverty barons’ – consultants running aid programmes abroad. At an event for consultants held last Thursday in Whitehall, the chairman of the meeting told participants: “There’s lots of money! We’ve all got money!” .

Minister Lashley has promised Barbadians that the Cultural Industries Bill (CIB) will be debated in parliament before the term of this government expires. In its current configuration BU has opined that the draft CIB is a rubbish document and will do nothing to kickstart the cultural and creative industries in Barbados. BU has reported on the role of Andrew Senior and cohorts, a consultant sourced with EU/UNESCO grant funding. With the focus by the British media beginning to erringly target abuse of grant funding it is left to be seen if Minister Lashley’s EU/UNESCO objective can be satisfied. Of course there is always hope and with insights from the BU family of experts we will freely pass along advice in a transparent manner, no need to invoke Chatham House Rules.

The challenge for Barbados at this stage is how do we avoid a still birth of the CIB.  There is an urgent need to build out a strategy which avoids the censure of the European media and authorities in the current environment. What the government needs to do is to provide moral and financial support to a non-government study group. Then that study group needs to look into things like:

  • an association operating as a union, with international union affiliations for creatives, which provides things like terms of employment, insurance, legal cover and representation, protection of copyright and intellectual property rights etc.;
  • to study tax incentives available in other countries and how they work and adapt them for use in Barbados;
  • education for people in the arts and culture so that they are qualified to see employment anywhere in the world;
  • updating copyright and intellectual property laws etc.

Once a non-governmental association of artists operating as a union is established which arranges things like retirement savings plans, legal and copyright protection etc., it can be affiliated to its international counterparts like the International Federation of Musicians (FIM) of which the only CARICOM member is Jamaica, and the International Federation of Actors (FIA) of which there are NO CARICOM members, and UNI MEI (that covers a vast range of artists) and IATSE INTERNATIONAL (that covers technicians in the arts).

The problem for the government is that to be effective all implementation is best undertaken regionally and not just by Barbados. It needs a regional overview.  The Arts is a multi-billion dollar industry and the government of Barbados must treat it with the respect it merits i.e. if it wants payback.

The British Chancellor of the Exchequer highlighted it in his last budget that he wants to create an atmosphere that would attract some billions of pounds a year to Britain from the arts. Stephen Lashley, at a speech at BCC, spoke of attracting $800 million a year to Barbados through the Arts. Given what has been exposed by the CIB to date it is evident that Minister Lashley is clueless how to go about energizing this new sector. His advisers and his “consultant” are also clueless.

With an election on the horizon perhaps there is still hope.

18 thoughts on “All This Talk About Culture and What?

  1. The Ministry of Youth and Culture et al , is in the process of moving into new premises at the back of Trimart , Haggatt Hall. Is this property owned by Government ,Barbados Government that is. If it is not, who are the owners and how much is this rental/lease arrangement costing the taxpayer? Another Ministry is about to move into the Baobab Towers in Warrens, again I would like to direct the previous question.
    In these harsh economic times ,should not the government be utilising as much of its own property as practically possible?
    What is the latest on the abandoned Louis Lynch school building on Roebuck Street ? Can not another environmental assessment carried out on this building to ascertain if it has a clean bill of health, and look at possibly converting to government offices.
    It would be interesting to see a list of the privately owned buildings now being rented by the government for whatever use.

  2. There are two separate subjects here in one post.
    Firstly the UK is looking at where aid money is best spent; secondly, the culture Bill in Barbados. I am not convinced the two are particularly connected.
    I believe it is right that any country should look at where it’s aid money is best spent. If I was a UK tax payer I would be very interested in whether aid money was given to an “almost first world country” like Barbados, or to a country in the heart of Africa where children are dying. My vote would go with the latter, however much I would personally like it to come here.
    On the subject of the Culture Bill, while it is important, I think equal or more emphasis should be placed on the resurrection of agriculture. Less sexy, but possibly a more stable benefit to the country.

    • @St.Georges Dragon

      So you did not read BU’s earlier blog, the link provided below?

      You have not been able to deduce that if Andrew Senior and gang are currently proving grant driven technical assistance under the EU/UNENSO program that it affects the government’s CIB roll out?

      Also that grant funding is anticipated as part of the CIB implementation?

      Why can’t we develop both agriculture and the cultural industries?

      The ability to build out a new economy absolutely depends on Barbados finding a way to do this successfully. Agriculture does not have the size/potential in scope to generate the employment and forex. Which is not to say agriculture is not important.

  3. @St.Georges Dragon. Agree that agriculture is very important. We all know, with the great advantage of hindsight, that our financial position would have been far better in these times if we were not so dependent on imported food. However, as an industry, agriculture cannot hope to even begin to provide what we as a country need in today’s world.

    If Errol Barrow were with us today, in the same way that he preached agricultural diversity to a largely deaf agricultural industry, he would be preaching diversity in general to a stone deaf and pig ignorant bunch of elected officials who are determined to become what the Sunday Telegraph and the Daily Mail describe as “Poverty Barons”. i.e. those who get rich off our tax dollars and off our aid from overseas. And the hell with us.

    As far back as 2005 (during the administration of O$A) the EU and UNESCO undertook, in Paris, to provide aid packages to the arts and culture of the CARICOM countries, UNDER CERTAIN CONDITIONS. In the case of Barbados, it is my understanding that this amount was US$50 million. BUT, EU and UNESCO determined that it would TRY to put in place conditions whereby 80% of this money (as was estimated in the Sunday Telegraph this last Sunday) would NOT end up in the pockets of governmental hierarchy and friends and political yardfowls, but on the projects for which they are actually destined.

    The Telegraph, indeed, has made a crusade of this issue throughout September and one of its named targets in all four of its articles by its top reporter, Andrew Gilligan, has been BARBADOS. And none of the “Fourth Estate” has taken the time to draw this crusade by arguably one of the most influential journalist in the world, reporting in one of the most influential newspapers in the world, to the attention of Bajans. And now I learn here on BU that the tabloid Daily Mail has got in on the act as well. God help us.

    I have been following this issue with dismay and copying them to equally dismayed and disturbed colleagues in Barbados. So here are the links to the series (so far) of Telegraph stories – yes, there is more than one and Barbados features HEAVILY in each and every one:

    And it is asked what the connection with the CIB is? Well, a young(er) (than me – which is not difficult) friend asked me to have a look at the issue surrounding the CIB and it didn’t take two two’s for me to be sucked into the issue and to realise that the CIB was started in the reign of O$A to pay lip service to the weak and ineffectual attempts of UNESCO to ensure that 80% of its grant money from the EU did not go into the pockets of politicians and for the government to be able to continue business as usual. Then, along came the DLP whose politicians, after years in the wilderness of political largesse, were, seemingly, determined to make up for lost time and therefore willingly followed with the BLP had led.

    Protests from arts groups and even a quite detailed and in depth study of the failings of the CIB published by BU and the Bajan Reporter, has, so far as I can see, been productive of nothing and it would appear that these arts groups, brainwashed by the state of play in Barbados, have since retreated, presumably on the basis that at least MAYBE 20% of the amount the EU and UNESCO expects to have spent on them will reach a small few of them as selected by government, depending on which government and their political affiliation and family ties.

    The response of Minister Lashley, who I now refer to with no respect whatsoever as “the 800 Million Dollar Midget”, has been to go to UNESCO and ask for one of its “consultants”. Consultants that the Telegraph (subject to libel laws) has described as “……..“poverty barons” paying themselves up to £2 million a year for their work helping the disadvantaged”. Here is a little selection from the Telegraph:

    “The managing director of the London-based development consultancy Adam Smith International (ASI), which gets most of its income from DFID, paid himself a salary and dividends totalling almost £1.3million in 2010. William Morrison earned £200,000 from ASI and collected dividends worth £1.06million from its parent company, Amphion Group, wholly owned by him and three of his fellow directors. Amphion Group’s accounts state that its purpose is to act as a holding company for ASI. Mr Morrison’s salary rose by a quarter last year, to £253,000. He and the three fellow directors shared dividends of £7.5million, or almost £1.9million each, which they paid to Amphion Group. The directors collected salaries averaging £125,000 each. Adam Smith International — which grew out of, but is now not related to, the Right-wing think-tank, the Adam Smith Institute — was paid £37million by DFID last year to promote the free market in the Third World. Its total turnover that year was £53.6million, with profits of £5million, up 10 per cent on 2010.”

    For Barbados, the name of the consultant chosen and adopted by the Ministry of Culture was ANDREW SENIOR. I IMPUTE NO WRONG-DOING TO MR SENIOR AT ALL, BUT MERELY PUT FORWARD A FEW ITEMS FOR CONSIDERATION BY BU. Indeed, one of these items has already been explored by BU.

    Mr Senior’s firm, ANDREW SENIOR ASSOCIATES has a website on which he extols (or did extol, and I have hard copies of it) the virtues of a micro-financing organisation called KIVA of which he is a part, which promotes entrepreneurship for which it is happy to provide loans at extremely high interest rates. It is also noted (and copies were kept, which was fortunate as the website has since been altered) that two of the persons providing testimonials for Mr Senior’s business, happened to be two of its listed associates.

    It was hardly a surprise, therefore, to learn that come next month, Mr Senior and his Columbian “mate” are/were headed back to Barbados to conduct “entrepreneurial workshops”, doubtless under Chatham House Rules.

    I think it needs to be taken on board by both this and the next government that the extremely powerful Telegraph is on a rampage and Barbados is the target of the rampage. And where the Telegraphs leads, other international news organisations will follow. Therefore, we had better clean up our act. Not just with the CIB, but with any project that depends on foreign aid.

    My greatest respect goes to David and his team (family) at BU who have taken what is, SEEMINGLY, a minor and peripheral matter (the CIB) and shown what importance, properly handled, it could have for Barbados and waged its own crusade in the highest traditions of responsible journalism, to try to see things done properly. But more, BU has aired a rich vein of corruption going the rounds of the international media and ignored by the Barbados media with Barbados at its very heart, that needs to be dug out, cauterised and utterly destroyed if we, as a credible part of the international community, are going to move forward.

    And I wonder just what Mr Andrew Gilligan and the Telegraph would make of the draft CIB, its “amendments” (and my friend who first brought this to my attention has provided me with a document out of the Ministry of Culture that purports to be amendments) and the role of Mr Andrew Senior, UNESCO/EU and KIVA officer, in this whole issue? Remember, the grant in question is a hell of a lot more than the £1.8 million spent on Pom Marine. Personally, I think that thanks to the Culture Ministers, both BLP and DLP, we could as well kiss that one goodbye. But what the hell, they get their salaries, cars, perks like first class travel and the ability to make jackasses of themselves with the international press looking on, pensions and, very often, the same for their families.

    As you can see, I am really not amused.

  4. Aid is always an issue to draw upon when it is perceived to be a need for raising emotions as a way of sidetracking the British public from what they should be concerned about. It works every time.

    The general thrust is along the lines that if we stopped all aid we’d be considerably better off, stop non-EU immigration to Britain and we’d have full employment or even stop all immigration into the UK and we’d be very well off.

    I have not heard anyone raising voices over the thousands of millions (Bugger off America, billions are millions of millions) of pounds sterling we spent in the invasion of Iraq and are spending in another dead-end called Afghanistan.
    What we’ve spent in those two misguided endeavours would wipe out the UK national debt and leave us with a very healthy balance.

    Africa …. The question I often ask “Have you ever seen a thin undernourished African leader?”

    They say the Chinese are clever. If they are perhaps their cunning plan is to let the US and UK fight all the wars for them with borrowed money and when we’re all exhausted they simply walk in and take over with no need for them to waste on MOB’s, Criuse Missiles and alienating a goodly slice of the world.

    In the case of the UK, up to 1986 we had bases all over the globe, Gan , Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong in the East, all over the middle East – Sharjah, Bahrain, in Libya – Tripoli, El Adem, Benghasi, Gibraltar, Cyprus – Akrotiri, Episkopi, Troodos, Nicosia, Dhekalia, etc., (Rich) Germany – Rheindalen, Paderborn and lots more not to mention all those around the UK.
    The strain of it all was too much and we had to go running to the IMF to stop us going under. Harold Wilson initiated the pull out from East of Suez to help stem the outflow.

    Fast forward to today and we are in the same bind with our eyes shut – see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil – the 3 stooges ride again.

    Today’s politicians understand very little and depend on advisors who know very little or have narrow and often partisan or personal objectives that have nothing to do with “the country”.

    They tell us they can’t tackle bank bonuses for fear these key people will move elsewhere, any attempt to raise the taxes of the rich or in may cases make the rich pay taxes is also too risky – those guys don’t do patriotism.
    Consequently they must maximise the tax burden on the less well off.

    Now if the troops were of a like mind, working for the Taliban instead would be more beneficial not to mention safe.

    Almost every day and several times a day I say “The human race is a frigging disgrace”.

  5. @ David | September 25, 2012 at 7:43 AM
    “Why is this guy Andrew Gilligan of the Telegraph hammering Barbados on this issue? Why?”

    Barbados deserves every bit of hammering. Four Seasons? Harlequin? Merricks?
    CLICO? Vicious crimes against British visitors whom were shabbily treated by the police as reported in the British Press?

    Barbados’ anti-British bashing because of the British stance regarding linking aid to anti-homosexuality laws on the statute books. Andrew is a known supporter of the ‘Pink’ Movement in the UK and has a very large fan club as a result of the Iraq exposé of the weapons of mass destruction (sexing up of the document to justify Iraq’s invasion by the British and American administration of the time).

    What about Bajans mauby pocket champagne taste lifestyles? Why should the British give aid to a country where the citizens drive around in expensive motors cars and SUVs rarely seen on British roads? Why would the British give aid to a country where everything is free from cradle to grave? Tertiary education in the UK is NOT free as in Barbados.

    Aid is only being given to Barbados because of past exploitations most of it only recently ended with disappearance of Barclays Bank and Shell Oil.
    Aid is just a subtle form of compensation to the previously enslaved, docile and ‘proud’ Bajans for not kicking up a fuss or making a politically embarrassing scene over the Reparations issue.

  6. @David. It is not, the way I read it, Barbados alone that is the target. BUT a comment was made within the hearing of reporters from two major papers and repeated in the papers – all about sand and business. Likely it is the attitude of the Bajan delegation and that of certain other countries that has put backs up and started a full press invesitgation. Anyway, there is a hunt going on and Barbados, along with certain other countries, is firmly in the cross hairs of the international press. Integrity (both in legislation and in fact) and freedom of information (and not like with the AX report) would spike their guns to a very large degree. But it looks to me as if hell will freeze over before we get that.

  7. The well must dry up one day and then what? Barbados cannot keep crying poverty all the time and as Miller said while citizens are driving expensive SUV’s. Will it be business as usual? Everyone is cutting back except for Barbados. Well the government may keep the doors open BUT there will be very little traffic coming through.

  8. @ David,
    Why is this guy Andrew Gilligan of the Telegraph hammering Barbados on this issue? Why?………..

    This reporter has had a vendetta against DFID for years. He thinks he is on to something now, he is not only misquoting and twisting around things to suit his agenda he is also misinformed. To our readers, do not jump to conclusions based on his writings, he has an agenda!

  9. @Prodigal Son. Forgive me. I am not in any way being adversarial of seeking to cross-examine you. I just don’t follow what you are saying. Without some sort of explanation, it doesn’t make sense to me. So, help me with an explanation.

    • For what reason has Mr Gilligan “had a vendetta against DFID for years?” Reporters of his level writing for a newspaper of the calibre and standing of the Telegraph typically do not have “vendettas” or “agendas”. They are not typically capricious – not at that level. They tend to leave caprice and agendas to newspapers like the Nation and its reporters. So, what and wherefore this alleged agenda?

    • You say, “He thinks he is on to something now, he is not only misquoting and twisting around things to suit his agenda he is also misinformed.” With respect, you have to explain this. And, while you are at it, you might like to explain why a competing newspaper (the Mail) has reported essentially the same story and its reporters were clearly present at the same function when someone from Barbados opened their big mouths. Are you implying that these two competing newspapers and reporters are conspiring to mislead and provide misinformation? To what end?

    You conclude by saying, “…… not jump to conclusions based on his writings, he has an agenda!”

    My most respectful advice to you is that if you do not refute specifically the allegations of these two reporters, printed by these two newspapers, then you cannot fault people for jumping to the conclusion that you, not they, have the agenda.

    After all, they all court libel actions and loss of professional standing and prestige, if they have done as you accuse. You, on the other hand, from the safe cover of anonymity on a blog (albeit a blog with real standing and credibility like this one) need to do far better before you, like a bad politician, demand that everyone believe you simply because you (whoever you is) tell us so.

    As David says, they have an audience. Indeed they do. An audience of millions worldwide.

    Just my view.

  10. Reparations eh? Sound like extra tax on many hard working West Indians in Britain to pay reparations, quite ironic.
    As the saying goes, don’t hold your breath, though I believe pigs in a 747 can fly.

  11. hey what is wrong with a little money laundering?
    come on bajans too busy working to buy sardines and biscuit fuh eat !!!!!

Leave a comment, join the discussion.