Independence abortions, budget dreams

Plans were approved for the last two budgets to utilise the 50th Independence anniversary as a springboard to consolidate local legacy material and release our living geniuses into the world. This year should have been one of T&T celebrating its unique magic, while retooling our cultural sector into a $6 billion net annual earner of foreign exchange. Instead, $100 million was wasted on vaporous events and projects lacking coherence, beauty and institutional permanence. This article concludes our look at the original plans…

In creative populations, the top five per cent earn the majority of profits. The “Beyonces” earn 65 per cent of what their labels make. Our strategy was to facilitate T&T’s genius class—just like the Ministry of Sport supports elite athletes. Worthy artistes were to be selected by the Arts Council in consultation with representative groups. T&T was to follow their preparation for global expos—where they’d win deals.

Our top geniuses can earn $2 billion annually—within four years. The aim is to give 35 per cent of T&T’s artistes touring careers—between 50 and 100 paying-days touring annually—in markets with favourable rates of exchange. This would graduate thousands into the middle class, many into millionaire-dom. London’s Olympics was to be main staging ground—utilising relationships with our global stars like Nicki Minaj. Cultural attaches were to be created to assist…

At home, the theme was to be: “Beautify the country”. Genius artist Jackie Hinkson’s proposal was for a proper programme of murals and public art. There should’ve been specially selected iconic photographs of T&T’s heroes, flora, fauna and history—which would’ve become “Official images of the Celebration”.

Tastefully designed banners and objects featuring these were to decorate the country by January. There should’ve been six major best-practice multi-media exhibitions—like “The History of Oil”, “Our Olympians”, etc, to join precedent-setting exhibitions like the “1970” and “Soca Warriors” ones. Sixteen sites nationwide were to house exhibitions of T&T’s best art…

Of the 365 heritage sites planned, 16 were to be completed as “best practice” income-earning sites, including Naipaul’s, Constantine’s, Sundar Popo’s and Beryl McBernie’s houses. President’s House and the Magnificent Seven were to receive attention. Sites like Banwari Trace—oldest archaeological site in the region—should’ve become major destinations. All projects would have been public/private partnerships in conjunction with surrounding communities.

Consultations for the East Port of Spain growth pole would have been swinging. The $300 million Colour Me Orange idiocy could have served pole agendas like building redesigned schools, community centres and restoring heritage sites while creating a credit union.

The major project of the pole is the House of Music—taking up Nelson and George Streets. Properties should have been acquired, local briefs prepared, tenders released… Meanwhile, the two largest collections of T&T music were to be purchased, digitised, collectors hired as curators and an exhibition on “T&T Music History” prepared. To crown it, after consultation, Peter Minshall’s “Golden Hills of Laventille”: all houses of Laventille’s south face would have been painted white, fitted with solar-panelled roofs and coloured local craftsmen doors. Residents were to get golden poui trees. Poui season—magic would’ve unfolded…

The JCC, Artists Coalition and sector were to begin forensics on the National Academy for the Performing Arts and the Southern Academy for the Performing Arts. Fifteen NAPA rooms were to become income-earning so NAPA could actually earn profits, multiply its usages, fulfill its mandate. Sixteen community centres were to be redesigned to purpose-built international standards. Pan Trinbago headquarters was to be started while next to it a state-of-the-art outdoor theatre completed so income-earning concerts could be held.

Queen’s Park Savannah was to be re-landscaped, incorporating Pat Chu Foon’s “Walk of Fame”. Meanwhile, land-tenure for 50 per cent of panyards was to be regularised. Twelve panyards were to be futuristically re-designed and Lloyd Best’s “Schools-in-Pan” implemented. Meanwhile industrial estates for film, fashion, pan, and mas should’ve been established.

The National Cultural Policy and Heroes Policy were to be consulted on and declared. Critical legislation was to be passed—like 50 per cent local content on radio and TV, and the list for protected heritage sites. All would have been co-ordinated by the Arts Council, with ministerial and private sector partners. The Council was to deploy venture capital for cultural entrepreneurs, granting firms with capacity capital to grow exponentially.

T&T was to be alive with brilliantly designed premium events, like a community-based seven-a-side pan competition, a global chutney competition, a national Ramleela initiative. These were to be facilitated alongside hundreds of community events, all encouraged to have public/private partnerships in a new compact between communities, artistes, government and business…

The penultimate event was a two-day summit bringing home T&T geniuses scattered diaspora-wide—celebrities, businessmen, scientists—for a brainstorming, networking session on the way forward. These returnees were to then participate in the closing multi-media, pay-per-view extravaganza on Independence—designed by Minshall. For the last month a National Arts Festival—using Best Village as its engine—a major tourism initiative. Carlisle Chang’s “Inherent Nobility of Man” was supposed to be on the new $50 bill…

All this was approved! By Independence 2012, T&T should’ve been transformed—new buildings, new institutions, new people… Thousands would have been on pathways to upward mobility, Laventille healing and Trinbago’s global brand rising in the world. These are things bad governance aborts…

Posted on October 4, 2012, in President's Blog and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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