A Game Changer: The Cultural Industries Bill

Stephen Lashley, Minister of Culture and Sports

Stephen Lashley, Minister of Culture and Sports

It was interesting to note Jamaica’s Prime Minister Portia Simpson’s perspective in the news last week about the importance of forging the creative/cultural industries and sport. She asserted that “these sectors have the potential to be important drivers of economic development.” Bear in mind Jamaica is light years ahead of all the countries in the Caribbean as far as leveraging theses two sectors. It is also noteworthy that Prime Minister Portia Simpson has responsibility for sports supported by a Junior Minister.

To Barbados’ credit we were informed in the lead up to the 2013 General Election that the Cabinet of Barbados approved the Cultural Industries Bill (CIB).  It has been reported that the CIB will be one of the early bills to be read in parliament. It took five years to complete the consultative and drafting process and many of the stakeholders in the Arts sector now eagerly look forward to its implementation. However, others have reviewed the final draft and remain doubtful that it has the ‘meet’ to nurture and grow our nascent cultural industries.

One needs to go no further than page 8 of the CIB, “approved producer of audio-visual content means a film production company incorporated under the Companies Act…that is controlled by a resident of Barbados”. Does anyone believe any reputable film company is going to make films in Barbados with this precondition? What about non-Bajans who are resident in Barbados?

Culture is a wide area and BU believes it is a mistake to bundle so many of its strands under one Act. Why not have an umbrella Act with individual Acts directed to each area of culture e.g. The Heritage Act. The Audio Visual Act. etc. Perhaps this would jeopardize the plan to squeeze out the grant being sought after?  With the economic slump being experienced by Europe grants are being radically slashed and Arts organisations throughout the EU have adopted a protectionist posture  towards non-EU countries.

BU is perplexed why the 52-page CIB document would have taken all of the first term of a DLP government to produce a final draft. The local Arts Community should be disappointed but BU is aware that we are dealing with a fragmented group who have yet again been strung along by the politicians because of a passive disposition. They find it abhorrent to ruffle feathers even when it is apparent someone is being screwed.

Regrettably BU remains not overly optimistic after reading the CIB draft. More work for the boy. Good luck anyway!

0 thoughts on “A Game Changer: The Cultural Industries Bill

  1. eight post in 2 days
    Three posts on today’ s date alone
    When I come back after a time, I cant even find the thread that I commented on before .

  2. @BMcDonald | March 11, 2013 at 6:00 AM | Is there an inventory list? I was not aware of this and have searched and cannot find it. Would appreciate any guidance you can provide.

    @David. Re CIB. It really is for the creatives themselves to band together and create a force that cannot be ignored. The trouble with creatives (worldwide, not just in Barbados) is that they have tendency to talk matters to death and end up actually doing nothing to help themselves. It takes someone to motivate them into actually acting, instead of just blowing hot air. The question is does Barbaados have a leader in the arts world capable of unifying the fragmented groups and getting them to move into action? I shall observe with interest, but I won’t hold my breath. In all of the EU countries, creatives have strong political lobbies and unions that can (and have) close down TV and radio stations. The same in the USA and Canada. The authorities in the USA and Canada know full well what it is like to have all the TV stations closed down, due to industrial action by creatives. The fall-out when people cannot watch their favourite show or see the news etc., tends to focus the attention of politicians wonderfully on their re-electability. As for your statement that this grant may run into problems, given the way things are going in the EU and the attacks that the unions of creatives are launching there on these grants and those government who would give them, it is debatable whether or not the money that Barbados hopes to gain will actually materialize. It will be interesting to see. But, if it does, it will be the same old “jobs for the boys”. And a lot of chat with no action from the creatives. But such is the way of the world.

  3. The Cultural Industries Bill is just another example of finding an arbitrary reason to employ service providers, either withing government or through contracts. No need to be perplexed. The longer it takes to bring an item to completion the longer these people are able to draw down on the tax payers purse; these tax payers being either Barbadian or European in the case of the grants.

    I know of a fella involved in the cultural industries who is like to cuss real bad. I suspect in the near future he may be coming forward in a more obvious way to piss off a lot of blowhards and drive them as pretenders off the radar, for good …

    But we’ll see …

  4. “As for your statement that this grant may run into problems, given the way things are going in the EU and the attacks that the unions of creatives are launching there on these grants and those government who would give them, it is debatable whether or not the money that Barbados hopes to gain will actually materialize.”

    Grant funding for Arts, Sports and Culture, especially for overseas beneficiaries like the Caribbean, has just taken a hammering in the EU budget allocations. This trend is expected to continue as Europe struggles with its economic difficulties and serious budgetary trade offs must be faced.

    Any rationing of funding for overseas cultural practitioners would be more favourably geared towards African beneficiaries than Caribbean people who for the most part are seen as well off (especially Barbados) than other “Third World” countries mainly on the African continent where culture is manifested in its purer genuine form rather than ‘bastardized and mongrelized’ as in many Afro-Caribbean societies.
    This description is not meant to be offensive or degrading of Afro-Caribbean culture but could be so viewed through the lens of “bias” European politicians who see us in places like Barbados as just aping our ‘detested English’ masters of old.

    We will be up against real strong competition for this significantly reduced funding pool. The Francophone territories with their advantageous “Overseas Department” status would be way ahead of us with Jamaica and Cuba far up the beneficiary chain than poor Anglophone Bim. Even the BBC has displayed a measure of scant concern for the English speaking Caribbean.

    It’s time the cultural practitioners get cracking and take on the Reparations mantle through a cultural warfare against the guilty conscience of the European slave owning past and the triangular trade that made Europe materially rich. Retribution is raising her reparations head and Walter Rodney is looking down crying How Europe underdeveloped Africa leaving many unwanted and soon to be orphaned children in the Caribbean.

  5. @Baffy

    We try to respond to a readership which has a varied interest. Believe it or not some people prefer the non political stuff. Also BU receives submissions on a weekly basis and as you know we strive on the cooperative model:-)

  6. Thank you Jeff. Appreciated. Us old folks are not really that clued in, except when it comes to our favourite blog….BU, of course.

    @Miller. Agree with you and well put. BUT, I don’t think the “reparations” tack will work all that well in the present climate. BUT, I am always willing to reserve my disbelief in your case, because you have an alarming habit of often being right.

  7. @Jeff. I just looked at the list. “Incomplete” may well be the understatement of all time. So far as I can see, the only cases listed are from 1990. Are we to assume that this is a “work in progress”? I merely ask for information. I am also dismayed that I seem not to be able to open certain of the files.

  8. When Lashley was first selected to be the Minister of Sport and Culture almost half a decade ago, the excuse of his youthful appeal was used. Now SURELY that time has past … Time for new sucker. This one has soured.

  9. should not javelin or spear throwing be a part of our culture?
    and African drums?dont understand these are African norms.

Leave a comment, join the discussion.