Director of Culture and Arts for Love and Living (CALL) Andrea King wants Government and stakeholders to make a renewed effort to expose children in schools to the benefits and importance of the creative industries.
The head of the NGO suggested that developing the appreciation for the sector from the primary school level, through the inclusion of craft making on the curriculum, would ensure a continued interest in and market for local craft in particular.
King, who spoke to Barbados TODAY insisted that cultivating a natural interest in the sector can only be accomplished if children are given the foundation on which they can build an appreciation of the work of creative artists.
She said this could not be done through occasional workshops throughout the year but through a holistic approach rooted in art appreciation and the understanding of the industry being lucrative.
“This serves two major purposes. One, the innate talent is trained and honed from early, which could ensure a professional fine finish in craft products; and two, the students who are not interested in craft making will have an appreciation for the artistry that goes into craft making,” King contended.
“That education would also include why it is important to support local production, as well as the cultural and spiritual significance of the craft work, so the students who will become adults and consumers will have a deeper appreciation for the product.”
King, the first ever director of the Barbados Cultural Industries Development Authority, also touched on the absence of Bridgetown Market from the Crop Over calendar when the festival resumed this year after a two-year hiatus forced by the COVID-19 pandemic.
She said while local artists may have benefited from the sales made during the three National Cultural Foundation (NCF) Arts and Artisanal Pop-Ups held during the season, not having the immensely popular Bridgetown Market, which had been a staple of the summer festival, was clearly felt by the artists.
“Bridgetown Market is the space people usually go to for craft items [and] since we did not have it for the past couple of years, it really left a void,” she said.
“This year, joining with the Barbados Vendors Association to produce one big market may have been a better approach to capture a large audience.”
When asked if the absence of a National Art Gallery was still hampering efforts to push the creative industry forward, King emphasised that although the gallery was indeed needed as a main space to display local works, support for the sector, from the ground up, was a greater priority at this point.
“Successive Ministers of Culture have been working on the National Art Gallery but there have always been challenges. I think that the Government is going to do what it can do and steps have been taken. A location has been identified and, of course, the challenge is always the money to make the gallery one that everybody is happy with.
“In the meantime, artists can do what they can do. The Government will do what it can do with the resources that it has,” she said.
On the elevation of spoken word artists to mainstream national entertainment, King, who is also the producer of the Bridgetown International Arts Festival, said those artists have been making impressive strides on the world stage over the last few years.
She said the country could capitalise on that.
“Given the level of interest young local artists have received on the international stage, a greater push should be made to not only encourage our artists to tour but also to bring international creatives here to share their skills and experiences as well,” she suggested.
“We have the responsibility to spread our way of doing spoken word, considering the issues and themes and topics we talk about. The Bridgetown International Arts Festival exists so that international performing artists, including those who do spoken word, can come to Barbados and share our stage.
“So CALL sends people out to perform on international stages, and we invite people through the festival to share our stage,” King added.
In 2019, CALL – which is dedicated to business development, collaborative working, trade, business-to-business opportunities and south-south cooperation, towards advancing the creative and cultural industries in Barbados and the Global South – facilitated four young spoken word artists participating in the Vrystaat Arts Festival in South Africa.