Artistes and other creative producers need money to live, and so do writers whose minds labour in solitude to produce entertaining and often compelling reading, fictional or imaginary, that moves us to look at life and events differently.
This was the chord struck at the 20th Frank Collymore Literary Endowment Awards (FCLA) ceremony where a number of those who took to the podium pointed to a need for greater financial input into production of storybook pieces and a meaningful contribution to the bottom line of writers.
During Saturday evening’s presentation, Heather Barker picked up second prize for her piece entitled ‘The Plundering’, while Sonia Williams took third prize, for her poem entitled ‘Her Bald Head Luminous’.
Also at this ceremony in the Courtney Blackman Grande Salle of the Central Bank Shakirah Bourne copped the Prime Minister’s Award for her story ‘Getting Back at Jack Taylor’.
There was no first prize awarded for the 2017 submissions.
“At this point in our development it is important that we move beyond the politeness of lip service to fully appreciating and supporting our writers,” said outgoing chair of the FCLA panel of judges Antonio Boo Rudder.
“When we speak of support we’re talking about purchasing the books which many writers have published at tremendous sacrifice and cost,” he explained.
MC Andy Taitt, who was also a member of the judges’ panel, said: “Money always helps” as he made a clear appeal for funding for creative writers “without reducing art to simply money”.
First prize in the annual FCLA awards scheme is $10,000.
Over the years financial support has been given by the Central Bank, which pays for the first, second and third place prizes and the Ministry of Culture, which sponsors the Prime Minister’s Award.
In his address, Central Bank Governor Cleviston Haynes noted that among the objectives of the bank in establishing these annual awards was “to bring prominence to Barbados’ best writers while rewarding them tangibly”.
As he pledged the Bank’s commitment to the endowment, sponsorship of scholarships, workshops and the annual awards ‘as our finances allow’, Haynes however said, “we need to find avenues to make literature commercially viable for its exponents”.
“One intriguing prospect is that as Barbados seeks to develop its film industry, opportunities will emerge for some of our writers to have their manuscripts converted into film stories,” he suggested, adding that “synergies between these two art forms should be encouraged as a means of enabling our writers to profit from their talent”.