Cranston Browne’s departure last week as chief executive officer of the National Cultural Foundation (NCF), though not politically motivated, signals a shakeup there for Minister of Culture and Creative Economy John King.
He also denied reports that veteran broadcaster Carol Roberts had been earmarked for the post by the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) administration and has been waiting in the wings since July to take over the NCF.
In his interview with Barbados TODAY over the weekend, King would not go into any details behind Browne’s removal, nor did he say whether Roberts was one of the candidates being considered for the post.
Government was now in process of finding a suitable candidate, King told Barbados TODAY, adding that the post is to be advertised shortly.
“I can tell you that nobody has been earmarked for the position because we are going to be advertising the position shortly. That is something I can speak to because we have not even begun the process of looking for someone yet,” King said.
Browne, who is said to have earned $142,000 annually, accepted a separation package, it was reported on Friday. Speculation emerged at the end of July that Browne’s tenure would come to an end after the Crop Over festivities on August 6 and that he would be replaced by Roberts, who was previously employed at the NCF as a marketing officer.
In April 2013, during the Democratic Labour Party administration, Browne was appointed interim CEO to serve until April 21, 2014. An official release had stated then that the board of the NCF would continue its search for a chief executive by widely advertising the post in an attempt to secure a candidate for a longer-term contract. Browne was appointed to the post in April 2016.
With the change of government at the May 24 polls, Browne’s contract, which was renewed just a month before the general election, was among several contracts under scrutiny by the BLP administration.
But the minister declared that it would not be business as usual at the state cultural oversight body, stressing that the new CEO must oversee the promotion of Barbados’ diverse cultural activities outside of the Crop Over festival.
“People have a perception of the NCF of being only relevant around Crop Over time as well as NIFCA [National Independence Festival of Creative Arts] and that has to change. Even before I became the Minister of Culture I would have always told the people at the NCF about the great work that they do.
“The sad thing is that nobody knows,” said King, who contended that these diverse functions are often only promoted among those artists who operate within the individual fields.
“If we are talking visual arts then there is a visual arts circle, and this would be the circle who knows about the things that are going on. If it is poetry, then again there is a small number of people who know and are involved. We have not done any outreach in recent years to find new people and expose people who would not otherwise know much about the programmes and that’s where we fell down for years. This is now a great opportunity for us to do those things and whoever CEO turns out to be is going to have their hands full,” King said.