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EDITORIAL: Showbiz, oh yes, but not at any cost!

BEA DOTTIN, [email protected]

EDITORIAL: Showbiz, oh yes, but not at any cost!

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It’s the season of celebration; and the subject of cultural industry was bound to come up.
Show businessman Tony Hoyos believes Barbados’ cultural industry – vague as it remains since former Prime Minister Owen Arthur first touted it back in 2001 – could bring into the economy $1 billion annually.
Mr Hoyos argues that the earning by Barbados of $80 million a year in six to eight weeks of Crop Over shows that “if concrete action was taken to develop or nourish the cultural industries, then the growth potential could be improved by far”.
That “concrete action”, comes, he explains, by proper organization and orchestration.
The businessman, who has been a culture “practitioner, consumer and investor”, said one of the first things needed was a dedicated training facility or a “Fame School”.
It is unthinkable for Mr Hoyos that we can expect to develop the cultural industries to its fullest potential without a dedicated training institution.
To his credit, Mr Hoyos offers suggestions. With the abundance of raw talent in “every field” in the culture industry, he thinks, one thing the Government must do is give the private sector incentives – and take a back seat.
Government should play a lesser role, just providing the development funding and framework – allowing the private sector to take “the risks”. For example, the National Cultural Foundation (NCF) doesn’t have to run its events.
“They need to set up the framework for Crop Over and then put out tenders for all the events, and let the private sector take the risks,” argues Mr Hoyos, who is of the view you get the best results when your own money is at risk.
At this rate, the cultural industry could cultivate false needs – those created and satisfied by capitalist investment. True needs, many an artiste insists, are freedom, creativity, happiness in one’s work and a fair return.
Care must be taken to sustain the emancipation of the artiste from the despotic investor/producer by inducing the consumer to question what is packaged and delivered.
Mr Hoyos’ dedicated training facility might itself stymie demystification of the cultural industries, and instead of an enlightenment that brings with it artistic pluralism, we could be giving form to an elitist sect with exploitative motives.
The arts do need “private sector” support, but not that which is so structured that culture is not self-determining in its performance.
But first we must have clear imagery of what Barbados’ cultural industry really is.