by Donna Sealy
A “one-sided debate” on the Cultural Industries Development Bill is just not cutting it.
And the Concerned Creative Citizens Group is not going to roll over and play dead on the issue because the members say the bill is too important a piece of the legislation to be rushed through Parliament.
In a statement issued today, the group said members had again reached out to Minister of Culture Stephen Lashley in a letter dated April 26, 2013, to express an interest in working with him, the Ministry of Culture and the office of the Attorney General to make the bill as successful as it can “be so that all stakeholders feel confident that our best interests are being served and that we are all working towards the same goal – an empowered and successful creative industry comprised of successful and confident creatives and policy makers”.
However, repeated attempts to have their objections known for more than a year now are being ignored, they said.
“Our group comprising 1,251 members, along with many experts (both here on island and overseas) plus lauded artists in Barbados feel that the bill in its current form is not worthy of passage in our Parliament.
“Despite repeated attempts to present ways in which to make the bill better, numerous requests to the ministry and minister of culture, public objections to this bill in many of the public town halls and forums, we continue to be rebuffed and ignored.
“We have submitted documents to the Attorney General listing our objections with the bill, carefully and meticulously pointing out the ways in which it will fail to develop the cultural industries in any manner whatsoever, and in an effort to maintain absolute transparency, these documents have also been discussed with the Leader of the Opposition and the shadow minister of culture.
“Our concerns are many and we list just some of them: lack of transparency, archaic guidelines for structuring of a board, the manner of designation of ‘cultural practitioner’ status, the allowance for Government entities to apply for funding, excessive powers vested in the minister, and that would be any minister who may hold the position in the future.
“There is also a glaring lack of synergy between other ministries and sectors of this nation within the bill, which only further highlights how ineffective this bill will be, and how little serious thought appears to have been applied to its structure.
“In today’s world, we at the very least expect the ministries of Education, Tourism, Foreign Affairs and Trade to be involved, as it should be blatantly obvious how essential such inclusion would be for the continued development, spread and support of the industry in order to reach and sustain an international standard,” the group said.
The Concerned Creative Citizens Group said that the bill was not such that could be “amended later” as it “was too important to be passed or rushed for any reason”.
In the eight-page letter they not only outlined their objections but gave alternative solutions, including the implementation of an oversight committee, term limits or “rather as a period mandated by legislation within the bill, which will prevent members from being victims to the whims of the political process”.
Additionally they wrote suggesting that the NCF “cease being a promoter, and revert to its original mandate of a developmental nature”.
The group is calling for “adequate protection from copyright infringement”, investment in research and development “ensuring that there are support mechanisms for the younger artistes and entrepreneurs”.
“As regards our Crop-Over, many of the themes of those who create are often of an antiestablishment nature, as we are regarded as the voice of the people to protect against any attempt at political domination. For this and other reasons, we consider it time that the NCF cease being a promoter, and revert to its original mandate of a developmental nature,” they wrote.
The “public and the press” have been invited to view their objections and files sent to Government on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/Concernedcreativecitizens. email@example.com