“In the abundance of water the fool is thirsty”…

This last week this government has demonstrated again the complete bankruptcy of Imagination of our ruling class- and shown us exactly why this country is in the tragic mess it is in. Government destroyed the home of legendary George Padmore and Henry Sylvester Williams- the fathers of Pan Africanism. These are the men responsible for midwifing the Independence movements across the African continent and the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa. In that same week government also closed down the Government Information Service Limited (GISL)- the repository of the country’s pre-Independence TV archives and hundreds of other radio and TV programmes. The reason they gave in both instances is that these items were either derelict or losing money…

The thing is this: correctly deployed the archives of GISL could have been earning tens of millions of dollars a year. And: re-designed into a multi-media Heritage Site the George Padmore House would have been a multi-million dollar earning Heritage Tourism Site attracting visitors- real and virtual- in the thousands per year from across the African Diaspora and further afield.

Lion House in disrepair

The last picture in my folder is of another tragedy waiting to happen. It is a picture of the fabled Lion House (from Nobel Laureate VS Naipaul’s seminal ‘House for Mr Biswas’) falling apart, as it lies abandoned. Government is in possession of plans to transform the Lion House into another multi-million dollar Heritage Site- a VS Naipaul multi-media Museum- and have done nothing with it. This Naipaul Museum would be a pilgrimage point for literature lovers from all over the world…

All across this Nation are Heritage Sites and Legacy items which can be transformed into income earning sites- for local or foreign tourists. The Artists’ Coalition of T&T (ACTT) estimates that T&T’s Heritage Industry- which at present costs the country tens of millions of dollars per year because of the neglect of Heritage Site and their decay- could in fact be earning us upwards of $1billion in foreign exchange annually with minimum new investment… A lot of these new economies would be in small local communities who need new sources of income, because Heritage Sites are predominantly in small communities.

So once again we’re saying to our seemingly brain-dead leaders in the public and private sector, “Our comparative advantage as a Nation is our Local Content- the Intellectual Property (IP) generated by Genius Citizens over the course of centuries. That IP- resident in Art, artefacts, Heritage Sites, stories, the persons of communities and heroes, and in all forms of intangible Heritage- is a multi-billion dollar FOREX earner for our country. The Creative industries are now the 2nd largest Industries on planet Earth earning an estimated $7 trillion annually and growing! This renaissance has been ongoing for 17 years whilst we squandered the Legacy of our Golden Age generation and allowed our cultural Sector to collapse. Our leaders have consistently refused to put in place the enablers that other countries have put in place and refined since the 1920s so that we cannot monetize our talent or IP. We cannot keep spitting on our Gifts…

American Airlines seats with built in meida screens

Whilst we squander our lead witness what others are doing: The first picture in this folder is of the new American Airlines airbuses. AA invested $2 billion in ‘customer improvements’ and a significant investment was in the content for its passenger media screens. Catalogues of many American singers were leased for the airline, but of all the Content investments one has stood out as the most fruitful. The airline invested in the catalogues of independent American musicians that not many people had heard of. Of all AA’s investments this has proven to be the most valuable in terms of positive reviews. Almost immediately AA started getting praise for the music in the catalogue. Passengers remained glued to the earphones for the entire trip listening to brilliant new music. It has seen committed repeat traffic to AA because of it… Our entire country- from our airline, shopping malls, restaurants and clubs, business places, billboards, and media should be flooded by our brilliant Local Content. The Content exists but our elites refuse to honour it. I hear our Groovy Soca more in the largest boutiques in Times Square in Manhattan than I hear here in our local shopping malls!!!..

This is an article about LOCAL CONTENT. About how it is the most valuable treasure this country has. It is worth billions of dollars in foreign exchange every year. And it is being artificially aborted. When I think of the tens of thousands of genius songs of every single genre written by our greatest musicians that I know have been silenced by our radio programmers- songs which are the real year-round pop culture of this country, songs this country has never heard- I cry. No. I bawl…

So I go back to the opening quote: “In the abundance of water the fool is thirsty”… Our government is scrambling for money just to meet our bills, far less invest- but they can only envision getting that money by taxing citizens into oblivion and revolt. Simultaneously they are systematically destroying the real wealth generating resources of the Nation- our Heritage and our Artists… So RIP Padmore House. RIP GISL. We now have to battle to ensure your archives are preserved and curated with Integrity. And Lion House: we will fight to get you saved and deployed as a model Heritage Site.

And for the artists of T&T, I am saying to us plainly- these are crossroad times. It has come to that time when we must man up and either declare that we have lost the War for our Soul and give up being artists and get a job in URP… Or we fight for Local Content and the host of Creative Industry enablers and make this place a Home and a shining Kingdom. Or we just give up on this island, let it collapse, and go into exile where we will be honoured. It is that simple. Let the battle for items in this coming Budget be our line in the sand…

Posted on May 31, 2017, in President's Blog and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Nice blog Sir!

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