With more than a year in power, there is little to suggest that Government has any meaningful plan for cultural development and the creative economy, the Opposition People’s Party for Democratic Development (PDP), has charged.
Speaking to reporters in the Opposition wing of Parliament this morning, spokesman on culture and the creative economy Allan Springer is of the view that the Mottley administration has shown little vision when it comes to tapping into this sector.
He argued that while there are examples of countries reaping significant benefits from their creative sectors, Barbados has shown little forward momentum.
Springer said: “In the United States its dollar worth matches that of the whole of the manufacturing industry according to a study entitled The Economic Impact of the Creative Industries in the Americas by the British Council 2015.
“In the UK, figures just released show arts and culture have overtaken agriculture in its value to the economy.
“When it comes to the visual and performance arts, the fulcrum for driving these sectors is a National Gallery for the visual arts and a National Theatre for performance.
“We have neither. Thus far they continue to elude us.”
Pointing to Government’s recently announced plans for a museum in honour of iconic Barbadian pop star Rihanna as well as the renaming of the Spring Garden Highway to the Mighty Grynner Highway, Springer contended that the decisions made by Government thus far, as it relates to the cultural sector, were demonstrative of mere lip service and poor insight.
He declared: “Government recently said there is to be a Rihanna museum.
“Rihanna undoubtedly deserves a national accolade, but it would make far more sense to develop a National Gallery first and then establish a special wing to accommodate the Rihanna museum.
“The well-recognized Spring Gardens brand has disappeared. Like Rihanna, The Mighty Grynner is deserving of a national accolade, but to re-brand a piece of cultural iconography that is known internationally shows that someone, somewhere, lacks brand-awareness,”
He further contended that “events such as these appear merely as carefully contrived, strategic, PR exercises aimed at numbing the effects of the BERT [Barbados Economic Recovery and Transformation] austerity programme”.
The PDP spokesman further charged that Government’s efforts to remodel the National Cultural Foundation (NCF) as more than an organisation that exist only to facilitate NIFCA and Crop Over, has failed.
Instead, recent efforts to breathe life into Pelican Village by introducing a party atmosphere, shows an incapacity to think outside of the “wuk up” culture, Springer said.
He told reporters: “Developments at Pelican Craft Village serves to bring the creative economy into focus.
“Originally conceived as a space for creatives to produce and sell their products, Pelican has been in decline for a number of years.
“Recent developments however saw Pelican transformed into another Oistins on Friday night, food and drink served with music and wuk-up.
“This misses the whole point about the Creative Economy – what underpins the Creative Economy is artistic, or more broadly, creative endeavour as commercial activity.
“This introduces us to the existing tension between arts on the one hand and popular culture on the other and brings into focus two fundamental concerns the ministry must address as a matter of urgency.
“There is a divide and ongoing discord between the NCF and a significant number of creatives.
“Creatives do not see the NCF as a genuine advocate for the arts, but as more rooted in the same popular culture as perpetuated and promoted by the ministry.”