On Sunday May 24th. Minister of Culture, The Honourable Stephen Lashley M.P. was on CBC TV 8 program Meet the Minister. A number of questions were posed to him by the Presenter and the public via emails. Towards the end of the program, I emailed the following question to the Minister.
We live in a society where the study of humanities is trivialized when stacked against the sciences. Why would human beings – in this case Barbadians – fail to appreciate the importance of understanding how we interact and integrate with our environment through the many avenues we use to express ourselves? We have so many ways to relate to our environment through art, music, literature, music and other forms of expression.
In any society stakeholders in the private and public sectors combine to nurture and educate individuals how to ‘connect’ with their environment; in the process defining ones existence. In the Barbados context the National Cultural Foundation (NCF) is charged with the responsible. A view of the About the NCF website confirms that the NCF is a statutory body established by an Act of Parliament in 1983. Its mandate is to oversee the cultural landscape of Barbados AND To fuel the development of culture through training, research and the creation of opportunities in cultural industries.
An economy that continues to struggle has forced the government to slash budgets and this has affected planning for the 2014 Crop Over Festival. All reasonable Barbadians understand the implications of cash flow and revenue challenges but in a politically polarized environment it is no surprise decisions taken by government will be testily debated.
Alison Sealy-Smith, Senior Business, NCF in contention for CEO position
It is all very well to talk blithely about an “association” of artists and how it is to be non-governmental. But to leave it like that on the part of this group of concerned creatives is, frankly, completely inadequate.
Yes, I agree that if there is to be a serious arts and culture industry, there has to be an association, a non-government association acting as a union, of artists. That is an essential first step. If you take on board that all arts and culture starts (and ends) with the artists and creatives, then you must know that, without them, there is no “product” for the “entrepreneurs” to market and make a fortune on, while handing back a bare pittance to the artists and creatives. And the “entrepreneurs” have carefully brainwashed creatives into thinking that they are doing the creatives a favour, so that creatives are completely happy to peddle into Bridgetown on their bikes and tug their forelocks as the “entrepreneurs” pass in their new BMWs. A century ago, this was the case in the USA – and 90 years ago, it ceased to be the case. So, let us look at the history of trades union and guilds in the arts in other countries and see if there is a parallel to be found to Barbados.
Barbados will host this year’s XV Inter-American Microenterprise Forum (Foromic 2012) from October 1 to 3, marking the first time ever that the event will be held in an English-speaking Caribbean country. More than 1,000 participants are expected to attend Foromic, which this year will focus on innovative ways to unlock entrepreneurship.
The news that Barbados will host this major event is good news. Up to now entrepreneurship has been a buzz word with little evidence that it has taken root in Barbados. We wish the organizers success and hope the stated objectives are achieved. Given the shift in the global economy post 2008 it must be evident that a vibrant culture of entrepreneurship will have to increase the contribution it is making to the local economy.
It is not widely known that the government of Barbados has contracted a consultant by the name of Andrew Senior to advise on the building out of the mooted ‘Cultural Industry’. Reasonable people appreciate the complexity of growing a culture industry, and the decision by Minister Stephen Lashley and the National Cultural Foundation (NCF) to request technical assistance from UNESCO and the EU by contracting Senior seems reasonable; on the surface.
In the song “Congratulations” Adonijah makes the bold claim that the NCF picks judges who are blind. Since I know three of those that sat last evening, I can say to Ado, yah lie. Let me forget Ado for a sec and turn to the powers that be at the Normally Controversial Festival. How do you move the show to the gym and not tell the judges? We now know that they were at Kensington. Is what wrong wid all yah?
I confess that I saw the show through the trusted eyes of the Starcom team, and as a big time Bag fan I am happier this morning than Owen was when Mia agreed to fall in line. I am as happy as I am dumbfounded that Gabby came third. Gabby did not beat AC. Nor did he beat Popsicle, Chrystal, nor Adonijah, all of whom also kicked Ian Webster’s ass.
A sense of euphoria filled my soul when it dawned on me that the gift wrapped toilet-tissue was finally outta here. If in the final tabulation the last song performed brings up the rear of the pack, nuf nuf people would be mocking Gabby and singing the one line that made any sense from the nonsense he sang in the first half. “Oh God”. With the judges at de oval while the show was at de gym perhaps even De Announcer beat poor Chrystal Cummings-Beckles.
Whether you judge based on the plane loads of Barbadians and tourists disembarking at Grantley Adams Airport, the jam-packed fetes, the many cruises off the West Coast of Barbados, the bumper to bumper traffic around Bridgetown many with H-number plates, capped by a rising excitement triggered by the culminating events of Pic of the Crop Finals, Foreday Morning, Bridgetown Market, Cohobblopot and the street jam Kadooment, Barbadians at home and abroad for the next few days will forget that world remains gripped in a world of economic uncertainty for a few days at least.
If the above was not enough to excite, next week Barbados will host Rihanna, arguably the world’s most visible entertainer in the WORLD at Kensington Oval to a sold out arena numbering 25,000. Did we mention that Rihanna is a Bajan?
Joy Workman and Eudine Barriteau (right), deputy principal of the University of the West Indies - Photo Credit Nation Newspaper
The 2010 Crop Over Festival is about to reach its climax. Tonight will see the staging of Cohobblopot which is being promoted with all local performers; a departure from the past two years. Tomorrow the masqueraders will take to the road to jump on Kadooment Day on a new route which has generated the usual controversy among the band leaders. All in all the NCF directorate seems to be happy with how the festival has gone so far. Not sure the criteria which is being used.
Before the festival closes we want to share our opinion on the growing popularity by adults to wearing their school uniforms to Crop Over fetes. The fetes are openly promoted as ‘Back to School Fetes’, to be admitted a school uniform must* be worn. There was one such fete a couple weeks ago by Power X 4 which attracted thousands of party people and the police had to stop the fete for security reasons. If Barbadians did not have an opinion on the matter the outspoken Minister of Education Ronald Jones provoked many given his position on the matter.
“. . . Because of the profound respect I had for the uniform of my school, I am not wearing that to any fete, before school, after school, or even during school, especially during vacation; unless it was a special programme organised by my school where you ask the students to turn up in their uniforms.
“How far we have drifted. The kind of respect we hold to certain symbols that give us authority, that give us presence in our schools. There are so many things that people can do to enjoy themselves. I want them to leave the uniforms alone. I want them to leave the uniforms for the symbols of the schools,” Jones said” – Nation Newspaper.
BU has stepped out of our comfort area a few times to comment on our premier festival, Crop Over. It is a festival which has morphed from a cultural expression of a people to a wukup, mash up, drink up party. The National Cultural Foundation (NCF) appears to have lost control of the festival.
Coming out of the recent Sanitation Service Authority (SSA) conflict with the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW), and the debacle involving the termination and reappointment of General Manager Stanton Alleyne, some not so favourable comments were directed towards Chairman Don Marshall. Also in our blog post of yesterday, BU published an item which placed Chairman Marshall in a less than favourable light. BU is appreciative to Chairman Marshall for coming to the blogosphere to clarify matters. We must warn him that discussion can get robust at times but we wish to assure him that he will get a fair hearing whenever he feels motivated to come to Barbados Underground.
On another note we would entreat Dr. Marshall given his prominent role in the CARIFORUM/EPA negotiation, to submit his unfettered opinion to BU on the subject. We have made this simple request because we believe that the matter has been presented to the PEOPLE of Barbados and the region as a highly technical matter. Can we rely on you Doctor to bring this matter to the blogosphere framed in a manner which shows relevance to a national, regional and global strategy?