It was a full house at the Courtney Blackman Grand Salle of the Central Bank last evening as artists and members of the public turned out for the annual Crop Over Visual Arts Festival.
The exhibition will run from July 9 to August 3 at the Central Bank and Queen’s Park, under the theme ‘Crop Over Ah Come From: Exploring the Tangible and Intangible Connections of the Crop Over Festival’.
Addressing the launch, Governor of the Central Bank of Barbados Cleviston Haynes highlighted the importance of Crop Over and the arts to the Barbados economy.
“The arts energise and unify people, and stimulate economies, and this is exemplified in our national Crop Over celebrations, a festival of creative arts and culture.
“Crop Over increases Barbados’ visibility, as the traditional and social media beam the activities to the world. The explosion in fetes, parties and shows has added dynamism to the entertainment sector, and we have created a new export industry as our calypsonians travel to perform. In short, Crop Over boosts economic activity, earns foreign exchange, generates spend, and bolsters tourism, the mainstay of our economy,” Haynes said.
Chair of the National Cultural Foundation’s Marketing Committee Muriel Robertson told the audience that it is time for Barbados to capitalise on the creativity of its citizens. “Cultural goods made up more than 16 per cent of Barbados’ total exports in 2016 and showed a trend of steady growth. It is time that we capitalise on the wealth of creativity our island has to offer and develop a greater appreciation for the cultural and commercial value of our local arts.
“It is also important that we create a canvas for the export of our art both regionally and internationally. I know that sometimes as creative people, we sit in this design space and the business of exporting our art can feel unattainable and unachievable. But with the power of the internet and social media, the world is your oyster,” Robertson said.
She noted that for the past 25 years, the Central Bank Crop Over Visual Arts Festival has been instrumental in pushing local art into public spaces, and according to her, “It helps to connect the bridge between those who understand the finer details of art and those who casually enjoy it”.
“It brings into the consciousness of Barbadians and visitors to the island the high quality and variety of work being produced. I believe it is important we recognise the significance of the arts all year round, and I think we’re trying to do that.
“Our island is home to a number of indigenous art styles ranging from shell craft, called sailors valentines, to the giant stone painted sculptures using what is called the skin back technique. We must celebrate these works while celebrating the newer artists.”
Central Bank Governor Haynes also pointed to the positive impact of the arts on patients suffering from mental illness. “The arts support health and wellbeing, and impact positively on specific health conditions like dementia, depression, and Parkinson’s disease. Our local Alzheimer’s Association exhorts families of dementia patients to treat them to music, and dance, and drawings, to help them cope with their illness,” he said.
He also praised local artists for sharing their talents with Barbados, the region and the world. “Our artistes sometimes feel that they receive insufficient recognition and rewards for their labours. The recent accolade bestowed upon the Mighty Grynner and, before him, internationally renowned Rihanna should inspire our artistes to persist, work hard and be patient and one day, they too may join the national pantheon of cultural practitioners saluted by this fair land.”
Several artists were recognised for their work last evening, including Cy Hutchinson, who received The Central Bank Governor’s Award and the Central Bank Purchase Award of Excellence. (MCW)