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EVERYTHING BUT … The art of nothing


Ridley Greene

EVERYTHING BUT … The art of nothing

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All o’ dis talk ’bout culture
Driving me mad, uh tekking it hard . . . .
– The Mighty Gabby (Anthony Carter)
IT?STARTED with Owen Arthur and continued under David Thompson. And Freundel Stuart threw in his little bit as well. Now George Hutson has taken his potshot at it too.
Messrs Arthur, Thompson and Stuart may have given it a more esoteric tone; but Mr Hutson is plainly looking at tugging the last dollar from the tourist’s hand.
The Minister of International Business believes that to be successful at this the stakeholders in tourism – the hospitality services – must “be creative and think outside the box”.
The thing is the cruise ship operators have been thinking inside the boat. As George Hutson illustrated, the cruise bosses have been carrying the island on board.
“. . . They are offering mountain climbing and rock climbing. They have simulated wave action in the swimming pool – so it is like you are on the beach. That’s where the industry is going, and they are in effect competing with jurisdictions like Barbados,” said the minister in wordy exasperation.
Happily, said he however, the cruise thinkers were yet to come up with a Moon Town or an Oistins Bay Gardens aboard. Why am I not shocked by the thought that one day I shall see a mega-cruise ship sailing into port with a “moses” for a mascot pinned to one of its funnels?
Well, this is the season for culture talk, amidst doublethink and the glorious doublespeak, with Crop Over just around the corner.
Patrick Cozier of the Caribbean Broadcasting Union (CBU) says he has been trying to sell the governments of the Caribbean – for seven long years – the concept of the “development of the creative economies”. For the CBU secretary general it is “the way out of the economic problems in which they find themselves”.
But to get the ball moving, he says, governments need first to pump some money into culture – as though he doesn’t know “money” is a bad word these days.
Considering the “millions paid to show cable”, Mr Cozier strongly feels a levy on this, as well as on cinema tickets and movie rentals would go a long way in raising revenue for the cultural industries, thus avoiding having to dig deep into the treasury.
Frances-Anne Solomon, CEO of CaribbeanTales Worldwide Distribution, film producers and distributors, actually sees a shift in the thinking of Caribbean governments as far as the cultural industries go, “even if they are not acting on it”.
All o’ dis talk ’bout culture . . . .
With Owen, it was just an idea, not deeply pleasurable enough for his nights; for David, he didn’t have enough of time; and Freundel thinks we like much too much feting. The prospects for our cultural industries don’t look so good.
Barbadian artistes and sundry others of creative imagination might as well seek the tangible assistance they require outside the confines of this 21 by 14 place.
When industry ancillaries – our radio stations, in particular – undermine nation creativity and Barbadian-ness with their fanfare of American country drawl for quality music and daily diet of heart-breaking soppy oldies, what other option could there be for the locals who do dare to think outside of the box?
Meanwhile the powers that be bother themselves not, effecting diddly-squat.
This is typical bureaucratic inertia that is if not at its finest, then remarkably close. The presiders over our cultural industry, stillborn as it is, have managed to a make a fine art of going nowhere, and the extent to which the majority of us in the creativity field are prepared to put up with these sorted mouthings – promises for a fool – and inaction is indicative of our gullibility to mumbo jumbo.
All o’ dis talk ’bout culture Driving me mad, uh tekking it hard . . . .
How dem expect to have cultural plan
For Caribbean man
From North American?
Call me what you will, but I am curious to know!

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