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Chances missed at arts bill session

Carolle Bourne

Chances missed at arts bill session

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Stakeholders from many segments of Barbadian society were recently invited to a special consultation on amending and streamlining the Cultural Industries Bill at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.
Some governmental departments were missing, such as Sanitation – who have an enormous task of cleaning up after fetes and concerts, and seldom is such a key component considered before such an event is planned. Usually it’s an afterthought.
Also absent was the Opposition, which is odd when one considers how the Barbados Labour Party has Senator Santia Bradshaw, who is the unofficial shadow Minister of Culture, bearing in mind her extensive knowledge of the local music industry.
It was rather surprising there was only one brief mention at the gathering of the lack of a National Gallery.
Performing arts was represented in part by spoken word artists D.J. Simmons and Adrian Green now sporting a shorn head instead of locs; the visual arts community had Neville Legall, Ahmad Rasheed Boodhoo and Ann Rudder.
Award-winning Katherine Felix was among those for the written side of literature, while Caribbean Chapters’ Carol Pitt was there for the publishing aspect.
With such a huge gathering of what some called cultural entrepreneurs, many felt fewer speeches or presentations and more discussions or Q&A over the mechanics of the bill should have been brought into play.
Some verbose contributors like Gilbert Rowe abused their station at the microphone and went on for almost five minutes – everyone should have been kept to a 60-second minimum in asking about the bill or making an observation, or seeking clarity and so forth . . . .
What was sad is how there was beautiful art on display from Neville Legall, Debra Durant, Ahmad Rasheed Boodhoo and Glenroy Jordan, but only for the length of the seminar. Why not leave it there for a month? If each artist brings five canvasses and one sells then let the proceeds of the first sale go to the Loyd Erskine Sandiford Centre while the balance remain with the artists on display?
If art in its myriad aspects as a cultural industry is truly under consideration, it means such an arrangement would be natural.
It would have been especially appropriate for Government to lead the way with such an opportunity. Minister of Culture Stephen Lashley hinted another session may be required to fine-tune the suggested amendments to the bill – perhaps a better approach for adding much needed art to the rather plain walls (for the majority of the venue) of the Loyd Erskine Sandiford Centre can be draughted too?