Shari aiming for change
By Natasha Beckles | Sun, August 12, 2012 - 11:05 AM
The name Shari Pollard is well known in local dance circles.
The 24-year-old, who has been dancing from the age of two, has received numerous awards at the National Independence Festival of Creative Arts (NIFCA) and was one the first Barbadian students to complete the Caribbean Examinations Council’s (CXC) theatre arts programme in dance.
However, the recipient of a 2012 National Development Scholarship is also Barbados’ representative for the United Nations Development Programme-linked Caribbean Youth Think Tank (YTT).
In light of her love for the arts, she wants to change the way entertainers in Barbados are managed and marketed.
Speaking to the SUNDAY SUN just one day after being named as a scholarship winner, Shari discussed her passion for young people and her hopes for the future.
She was one of 14 young people from across the region who were selected from a field of more than 90 applicants for the YTT which seeks to advocate for youth development and to combat social ills and threats facing young people.
One of the focal points of the group is the area of the arts and culture.
“We’ll be doing a project called Youth Talk Through Arts [which] is a project that I started last year in Barbados where we were using the arts, whether it was performing arts, visual arts [or] film, as an avenue for the youth to express issues that are affecting them,” she said.
She noted that the emphasis was on issues that were not often discussed.
Topics explored through dance, song and poetry included issues of identity, how many young people are forced to go into traditional careers and the struggles faced by girls who grow up without a father figure.
Shari said YTT was looking to have five similar arts showcases in St Lucia, Jamaica, Barbados, St Kitts and Nevis and Dominica between now and December.
The young woman who has won a number of awards for both dance and choreography explained that she wanted to provide a forum for young artistes since there was a dearth of outlets for them to “just express and not be judged”.
“The only real avenue for creative expression was NIFCA and NIFCA is a competition. Outside of the competition there’s no other avenue for youth to just be free to express what they want to.
“Art is all about expression and I think from the competition aspect we are stifling what people are allowed to express,” she said.
Shari, who spent one year at Christ Church Foundation School before moving to Queen’s College, explained how she came to this realization.
She said the company Trident Productions, which she co-founded with well known dancer Justin Poleon, started out as a dance group but when they moved on to cheerleading, they encountered several schoolchildren.
As the group became more recognized, they were contracted to produce a number of opening presentations, including the Michael Jackson Tribute at the 2010 Barbados Music Awards and the opening ceremonies of the 2011 CARIFTA Swimming Championships and the 2010 AIBA Women’s Boxing Championships.
“We found that a lot of the stuff we were doing was not just in the area of dance because the clients would come and they would want stilt-walkers, musicians and somebody to sing the National Anthem.
“We would have to expand what we were doing, so it kind of became an agency where we would contract people according to what we needed,” she explained.
“We started having groups like Haynesville Youth Group incorporated into some of the stuff we were doing and from interacting with them I found that there were a lot of them that have the talent and were not given a fair opportunity.”
And in light of her passion for all aspects of her field, she will be pursuing a one-year Master’s programme in entertainment business at Full Sail University in Orlando, Florida.
She said her first degree was in information technology (IT) and management from the University of the West Indies.
“Because my mum was in the IT field, I was into IT and she was into having me do my degree in something which I could fall back on if the dance didn’t work out,” she explained.
Admittedly not a “desk job person”, Shari eventually became frustrated since she really wanted to dance and choreograph.
“I figured that I was not getting younger and dance is not something you can go into after some time,” she said, adding that she then took up a job dancing.
After a while, she wanted the opportunity to study something in the area of entertainment since she began operating in the business before she fully understood it.
With her degree covering a wide range of interests including project management, entertainment law, entrepreneurship and digital technology, Shari said she wanted to be equipped to represent Barbados and Barbadian talent to the best of her ability.
“I look at Rihanna and all the people who have made it and most of them have to go elsewhere to get that sort of management and that sort of backing.
“We have a lot of artistes but we don’t have a lot of people who understand the business side of the arts. We have a lot of artistes who are mismanaged and underpaid,” she said.
“I hope that from my studies I can bring about a change in the way that artistes are represented and also make Barbadian talent more exportable so that when people see us, they can see a packaged deal.”
- Editor's Choice