Monthly Archives: June 2012

THE CRISIS IN THE ARTS

The global Creative and Cultural industry was worth about US$ 1.3 trillion annually in 2005 with projected annual growth of over 7% according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. PricewaterhouseCoopers forecasted the growth at 10% annually. In 2003 Creative Industries were estimated to account for more than 7% of the world’s gross domestic product according to the World Bank. In the developed world- and increasingly in the developing world- Creative Industries are ‘the’ growth industry- even in recession- outstripping traditional industries like manufacturing. Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand and Sweden are using it to leverage their shift into information-based economies. According to the Financial Times, “a report from the (UK) Government’s Strategy Unit has concluded that the Creative Industries in London are now more important than financial services to the economy!” These astounding figures are achieved by creative businesses, most of which are small or medium sized enterprises!This growth of the creative industries is contradicted by one country- Trinidad and Tobago.

In the last decade T&T’s cultural sector collapsed almost completely- this during a $300 billion boom. Nearly every creative sector in T&T experienced brain drain and decline- in audience, brand cache, earnings, skill-level, and retention of indigenous modes… Theatre, dance, visual arts, music, festivals, etc… The variety and quality of offerings in each sector declined with an emergence of a handful of profitable players- not necessarily based on merit… Dozens of theatre companies and forms of theatre disappeared, festivals like Paramin which needed graceful re-engineering collapsed, dozens of traditions disappeared with the last dying breath of Elders, and major institutional spaces like Amar Studios and CCA 7 (a global visual-arts gallery based here) were allowed to collapse. Meanwhile, globally, Trinidad lost proprietary of nearly every single of the 300 carnivals we originated- because of our failure to engineer our carnival and NCC properly… Read the rest of this entry

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Inheritance: The Elder Lecture Series #3

TESTIMONY: WE FIGHT Part 3

We have completed our negotiations cycle with the PP government. We have won many concessions in 2 National Budgets. Unprecedented historic promises to the Creative sector have been made- things we have fought for since Independence! We now have asked politely for implementation for a year and a half. That period of polite diplomacy is about to come to an end. Failing movement on these things we now will move to the next stage. This is how change is won. This is how a nation is built. This is how lasting institutional transformation will happen. It takes time, strategy, stubbornness, years of your life pushing paper uphill. But within that paper is the lives of tens of thousands of people. Within that paper is their ability to feed themselves and their families, to fulfil their dreams, to live their gifts to the fullest of their ability. Within that paper is the golden country- Iere– land of the hummingbird- the shining renaissance Trinidad and Tobago that must emerge out of the corrupt crushed egg that politicians and the greedy have made of this place…

Why do we do it? Because we must! Because no one else will… Read the rest of this entry

Citizen activists

Oxford Dictionary defines “activism” as “the policy or action of using vigorous campaigning to bring about political or social change”. Now there are all kinds of people labelled activists.

There are nameless people who toil in communities for decades without whom those communities would collapse within seconds. There are NGOs who draw down massive grants year after year and you are hard-pressed to see the work they do.

There are activists who appear whenever a cause is popular—and as soon as the cameras disappear they melt into the shadows.

There are “activists” who appear only when certain governments are in power— and go silent when others are there. There are some who are in activism to “eat ah food”.

And then there are activists who are passionate for change because they are possessed by an idea of a better way. They “see” the vision of the transformed community in a way others can’t… Read the rest of this entry

TESTIMONY: WE FIGHT Part 2 (CITIZEN ACTIVISTS)

Oxford dictionary defines ‘activism’ as ‘the policy or action of using vigorous campaigning to bring about political or social change’. Now there are all kinds of people labelled activists. There’re nameless people who toil in communities for decades without whom those communities would collapse within seconds… There’re NGOs who draw down enormous grants for years- and you’re hard-pressed to see the work they do. There’re activists who appear whenever a cause is popular- and as soon as the cameras disappear they melt into the shadows. There’re ‘activists’ who appear only when certain governments are in power- and go silent when others are there. There’re some who are in activism to ‘eat ah food.’

And then there’re activists who are passionate for change because they are possessed by an idea of a better way. They ‘see’ the vision of the transformed community in a way others can’t. They’re relentless because they ‘dream’ the alternative reality like how some people dream a ‘mark’! If only our leaders would change destructive courses… Read the rest of this entry