by Kimberley Cummins
The development of young talent is a major issue for the Government of Barbados.
That’s why, says Minister of Culture Stephen Lashley, they have thrown their support behind the Richard Stoute Teen Talent Contest.
In 2010 Minister of Finance Christopher Sinckler announced that the Government would make a financial injection of a $400,000 grant to the 36-year-old competition.
In a recent interview with Barbados TODAY Lashley reaffirmed the commitment to the show. He said they believed it was important as it ensured that young artists found their niche at a very early stage. He added it was a very critical stage at which to start development since it was then that most of the professionalism, which was encouraged, began to take root.
“We certainly support the Richard Stoute Teen Talent competition; we believe that Richard has spent certainly a lot of time and effort in ensuring that a competition can continue to produce some of the finest talent across the world. You know that many of our artistes who are now on the international stage have come out of the Richard Stoute Teen Talent competition contest and certainly as a Government we continue to be very supportive.
“Yes, we did provide some resources to the competition and we believe that those resources are well allotted. The competition is one that connects with young people; many of the young people who are involved or have been involved have seen it as a means of ensuring their own personal development and we certainly will continue to support it.
“As you know we are continuing to finalise the Cultural Industries Development Bill…; the development of talent particularly among young people is a major issue for us.
“I am very supportive of the Richard Stoute Teen Talent competition, we believe that it has grown as an institution and our involvement and support of Richard Stoute in this endeavour is to ensure that the competition can continue to reap the kind of success that it has and to also ensure that the young people who participate can look forward to continuity in relation to the kind of skills that they can get and the exposure that they can get at competition,” he said.
Despite complaints from some patrons that in the many years since its establishment the show has not progressed, resulting in the continued dwindling of audience support, Lashley said it would be unfair to say it was going nowhere.
“I think the Teen Talent competition, the numbers are up to par, I have seen the last coverage on the competition and the numbers have not waned, but it is like closing down a school; you can’t close down a school because some of the names that you expect to come out don’t come out.
“I think that we have to continue to support the competition and we have to ensure that persons see it as a continuous means of development, but I don’t believe that it is something you should close the door on.
“I feel though that agencies such as the Richard Stoute competition will benefit tremendously under the Cultural Industries Bill because they will have an avenue by which they can apply for funding, they will have an avenue by which they could apply for technical assistance and certainly given the type of work they are doing would be more able to fine tune how they actually operate.”