The Minister for culture has failed to properly develop and expand the creative economy, the Opposition People’s Party for Democracy and Development (PdP) spokesperson for Culture Alan Springer has charged.
He said Government and by extension Minister of the Creative Economy, Culture and Sports John King had failed to deliver on some of his promises over the past year.
Speaking to reporters at the office of the Opposition Leader in the Worthing Corporate Centre this morning, Springer said while the Minister had outlined several plans back in September 2019, none had come to fruition.
These he said included an intention to strengthen and reposition culture, the need for sustainable development and adequate legislation for building frameworks.
Springer said while Barbados was in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, it could not be used as the “defining test” for Government since its impact had been barely two months.
He told journalists: “The PdP calls on Government to find a proper place for the arts within popular culture and desist from the practice of viewing culture as a catch-all for everything creative, with entertainment as the centrepiece.
“Comprehensive reform is needed within the framework of a new legislative Act that triggers new ways of looking at the sector, from financing, infrastructure, how both human and physical resources are allocated and managed and how it all comes together to form a fully functioning creative economy to give us a competitive edge in what is a fast-developing multi-billion industry.”
He also criticized Government’s “last-minute” decision to cancel Crop Over and for its conception of the We Gatherin’ initiative.
Springer said not only did the decision come way too late, but no proper alternative was put in place to support artists.
“Back in early March with the looming presence of COVID-19 I called on Government to make an early and firm decision about Crop Over 2020,” Springer contended. “The decision to cancel came a whole two months later, ridiculously late for a decision that was obvious given what was going on worldwide, but it should at least have given Government time to plan a viable alternative in its absence.”
Springer suggested that initiatives could be put in place to allow calypsonians to teach young people how to structure and present calypso competitions, for bandleaders to teach ‘mas’. He said spouge should also be reinvented with the view to position it as a global music genre.
He also questioned the real reason behind the holding of what he described as the “ill-advised and doomed” We Gatherin’.
He revealed that a special Government database had been made available for overseas Barbadians to register their contact details.
“There was never any transparency about its intended use or purpose, nor who would have access to it, but of course it would represent a highly useful database for anyone planning to give ease of voting to overseas voters at the next election,” Springer declared.
He also questioned the Government’s move to handover the Empire Theatre to construction magnate Mark Maloney for its redevelopment.
Springer said while Maloney would spend $15 million to restore the Empire Theatre to a performing arts facility, it was unclear as to whether Maloney would own the finished project.
He also questioned Maloney’s proposal to incorporate the Empire into the nearby Hyatt Hotel which Maloney is building.
Springer said: “With the Empire incorporated into the Hyatt, I suspect we’re speaking here of the Empire forming the entertainment arm of the Hotel Resort and is therefore yet another tourism enterprise.
“Who in their right mind believes that local performers will have an easy affordable access to a newly renovated state-of-the-art theatre attached to the high-end Hyatt Resort Hotel?”
Read our ePaper. Fast. Factual. Free.
Sign up and stay up to date with Barbados' FREE latest news.