Minister of Culture Stephen Lashley last night noted that his new Cultural Industries Development Bill was proof that the island’s artists were finally being heard.
Speaking to the House of Assembly as he introduced the bill, the minister stated: “The beneficiaries of this bill include artists, private sector, non-governmental organizations and Government. But for me, the cultural practitioners and supporting enterprises hold a special place –– calypsonians, Kadooment bandleaders, songwriters, fashion designers, dress makers, musicians, dancers, singers, managers, playwrights, promoters, arrangers of music, owners of places of entertainment, educational institutions, innovators, inventors, owners of museums and places of historical interest, private investors, entrepreneurs of all kinds . . . .
“These sons and daughters . . . have for many years been battling against the odds, with little or no financial support to pursue their careers and businesses. There are those, not alive today, who journeyed for the cause, who worked hard in the cultural arena and who inspite of their outstanding talent, never realized the just fruits of their labour,” he said.
While admitting that there was no doubt that the sector had not received the prominence it deserved over the years, Lashley argued had it gotten attention then, “the Barbados economy would have been stronger and more able to withstand the adverse shocks of the global recession”.
“It is clear from the many discussions and interactions I have had with our artists, that many hold the view that they have not been previously listened to. Many have suffered immensely for varying reasons. Many have had their intellectual property rights taken advantage of.
“Many feel they have not been previously respected. Many have developed over the years a distrust of Government and have grown tired of the bureaucracy and red tape inherent in structures and systems that have been slow to change.
“Sir, upon coming to Government we have opened up the channels of communication, we have created fora to listen to and respond to our artists, whether in Crop Over, NIFCA or with respect to this bill before the House . . . ,” he determined. (LB)