A Concerned Creative Citizens Group Not Happy About The Proposed Cultural Industries Bill
Submitted by the Concerned Citizens Group
We are a group of creative Barbadians called the Concerned Creative Citizens Group. This group, made up of key members from various disciplines of our cultural community, was formed out of immense concern over the contents of the Cultural Industries Bill, which was being circulated by the Ministry of Culture a few months ago, with the intention of having it passed as a legal document. Our members are well versed in all aspects of culture and we went over the proposed Bill with a fine toothed comb, our efforts culminating with our recommendations being formally presented to the Ministry and addressed to Minister Stephen Lashley on April 30th 2012, via a hand delivered letter which outlined both the good points contained in the Bill as well as the serious flaws it possessed which we felt needed to be addressed.
Personal correspondence was then communicated between Minister Lashley and the group on several occasions, with one such letter assuring us that all submissions were being considered regarding proposed amendments to the Bill. A meeting was set up to discuss these proposed amendments between consultant representative of the Ministry of Culture Ms Andrea King and members of our group, which was also attended by UNESCO consultant Andrew Senior, who was purportedly hired by the Ministry of Culture to help with the Culture Industries Bill. At this meeting we were informed categorically by Mr. Senior that he was not involved in amendments to the Bill but was hired to advise government on ‘entrepreneurship’ in the culture industry of the island. We were, however, made more aware of the real purpose of the Bill, which we found appeared to have a high level of the principles of entrepreneurship at its core, and in our view was more focused on turning the cultural industries into a revenue earner for Government, and very much less on the inherent gains which should be derived from the Bill to the benefit of all creative practitioners in our country.
At this same meeting, we were assured by the Ministry representative that many of our submissions had been included, but on receipt of what we were told was the file of amendments, we realized that none actually were, and that the proposed amendments still contained numerous flaws. The most perturbing information received was that it was intended to make certain aspects of the Bill legal without actually even having a national cultural and creative policy in place.
We have always communicated with the Minister and the Ministry with utmost respect, and as we were very concerned about the handling of this meeting, a letter was duly sent to Minister Lashley detailing our disbelief, to which we have to date received no response.
Further, changes were subsequently made to the original proposed amendments, which we were slightly taken aback not to have received through official channels, but of which we were fortunate to get a copy.
Minister Lashley has stated on radio that the proposed amendments would be placed for all to see on the GIS website. This has not transpired, and there has been so much cloak and dagger behaviour behind this entire Cultural Industries Bill, that we are as stunned and clueless as anyone as to the reasoning for such activity.
We are of the view that every creative person in Barbados should be made aware of the intentions and benefits of the bill in all aspects, and they should be the ones made to understand every potential repercussion, as they are the ones who have given their lives to the pursuit of their various gifts of creativity.
Taking into consideration all that has transpired, the apparent lack of respect, communication and consideration being shown to us, and in the midst of many whisperings of the imminent passing of the Cultural Industries Bill in its present form, we feel compelled to make public our concerns and recommendations regarding this most potentially nation altering piece of proposed legislation.
We are in the process of forming an association, and will be ensuring, through all the channels available in today’s exciting electronic world, that every creative in Barbados is in possession of the documents we list here.
We do so with a sense of reluctance, born of our honest desire to have meaningful dialogue with Minister Lashley and the Ministry of Culture with a view to having a win-win situation, whereby all the creative people of our country bought in to the idea of a well structured Cultural Industries Bill, which could be clearly seen to be of tremendous benefit to all involved, and that would stand the test of time for generations of creative Barbadians to come, irrespective of which political party was in power.
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