Blog Archives

Emancipating Genius

This series continues to look at the stakeholder Masterplan for the creative sector. The Plan identifies areas that should be resourced to grow the industry from a $1.9 billion to a $7 billion earner in four years. One pillar—one many people would not believe constitutes an industrial sector—is the work of “geniuses’’.

In our calculation, “geniuses’’ in the creative sector—if enabled properly—can contribute over $2 billion to the economy annually. Up from $.2 billion at present.
But first I’ve a confession: I’m a snob. I love genius. I believe in the beauty and power of genius and its ability to change the world for the better. I believe that genius is at times resident in individuals—as well as communities. What I do know is that this dark world stretching back into time has been ceaselessly illuminated by the exploits of genius.

A friend of mine was doing a “bucket list’’ recently (these list of things that you promise yourself you must do before you die). I found it mildly morbid. Upon reflection I realised that a “bucket list’’ is not necessarily an act connecting you to death—but one that connects you deeper to life. The list allows you to dream on a planetary level. To feel your spirit owned by the earth and the universe—and owning it in return. The list asks you, “What are the things I must experience?” So I started my list…

I don’t know what it looks like for everyone else, but my list could be broken into three—intimate human experiences, visits to natural wonders, and visits to awe-inspiring works of art created by man. What I couldn’t get over was how many things on my list were connected to works of the genius of man. From the NASA space station to the Pyramids to the terracotta sculpture city in China, it was a long list of ancient ruins, sculptures, paintings, buildings, bridges, technological marvels, museums and temples of entertainment. All works of human genius. The list made me realise, deeply, how much human creativity makes the experience of living majestic…And also makes a lot of money! Read the rest of this entry

The diversified heritage economy

IN my last article I revealed parameters for the creative and cultural sector masterplan synthesised by the Artists’ Coalition from stakeholder consultations. The plan identifies a series of interventions to grow the GDP contribution of the sector from $1.9 billion to $7 billion in four short years. One of the pillars of this growth is the “Heritage Economy”—which currently operates at a net loss to our economy. We anticipate we can grow this to a $1 billion earner annually. Here’s how…

Wikipedia defines heritage as “something inherited from the past: natural heritage—the inheritance of fauna and flora, landscape and landforms and other natural resources; cultural heritage—the legacy of physical artifacts and intangible attributes of a group; man-made heritage; food heritage; industrial heritage; and virtual heritage.” This heritage is economised through: museums, heritage sites; by merchandise like books, toys, and clothes; and by restaurants, events, etc.

This nation has been blessed with phenomenal heritage in each category. As the last piece of the Andean rainforest we’ve amazing natural diversity for a small island. We’re said to have: one of the most varied bird and butterfly populations in the world; the world’s hottest pepper; the richest cocoa; etc. We have the 7,000-year Banwari man fossil—the oldest human remains in this part of the world. We have the magic mixing of five ancient civilisations. We have legions of interesting heroes. We have incredible sites of global interest like the observatory where latitude and longitude were calculated for the western hemisphere, one of the first commercial oil wells in the hemisphere and the site where television was being invented…
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The holy grail of diversification

Recently people told me my articles haven’t explained the master plan for the creative and cultural sector. They’re right. I’ve explained sections to open up people’s understanding—but I haven’t ever shown the big vision. However there’s a master plan document available here on this site. For those who want more technical implementation data, click here.

The refined Cultural Sector Master Plan has existed for over five years—built on a mother-document first compiled in 1997. It’s been the subject of dozens of meetings with leaders of representative groups, artists and foreign experts—and fortified by generations of ancestral technical and vision documents from pioneers like Beryl McBernie, George Bailey and Terry Evelyn, Colin Laird and CLR James. This has been anchored by international best practice strategies which nations have used to grow these industries throughout the course of their civilisations.

It however especially refers to techniques used in three modern periods:

  1. the immediate post-World War II period of the 40s and 50s when the grand architecture of arts councils, heritage economies, and consolidation of performance economies happened;
  2. the late 60s-early 70s with the first wave of broadcast legislation and codes; and
  3. the 90s when many countries identified the creative sector as their growth industry and started re-tooling national economies around them, and the burgeoning computer/telecom industries.

Those three waves of enabling systems made the creative industry the second largest industry on Earth—worth over $1.5 trillion annually. The reason why T&T’s creative sector under-performs is because we’ve implemented none of these systems the world has had since the 1940s!
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1,000 moments of beauty

So I had one of those “message dreams”… The dream calls for me to work with artists and creative citizens (without Government involvement) to manifest 1,000 moments of Beauty all over Trinidad and Tobago — especially in abandoned lots and derelict buildings…

I’ll be working with my group, the Artists’ Coalition of Trinidad and Tobago (ACTT) to coordinate this with artists, NGOs, communities, and citizens over the next three months, culminating with ‘The Week of the 1,000 Moments’ beginning March 20, 2013 — the vernal equinox, Easter.

Who knows where works of art and inspiration come from? Michelangelo, principal artist of the Renaissance, said he saw the statue of David within the raw marble. His duty was to possess the skill to emancipate it. Shadow — Wizard King — sang of hearing the sound of Farrell — “the Bassman from Hell” — in his head, inspiring him to craft a new music. I myself hear songs sung to me in dreams by Shadow himself! I recorded some, now on compilations world over… Read the rest of this entry

Dear Minister Tewarie

Dear Minister Tewarie, greetings from the local cultural community! This message meets you on the day the canny Mayans earmarked as the End of Ages—so either this missive meets you throat-deep in water, avoiding the flames, or experiencing the molecular re-alignment of harmonic convergence. However the day meets you, may my message reach you, too!

How did we reach this pass? How can the country of CLR James, Beryl, Sundar, Carlisle Chang, Attila, Spoiler, Kitchener, Bailey, Constantine, Butler, Rienzi, and so many warriors and artisans of Light lie so ruined? So far off-course? So bereft of Hope and Dream? How did we become such a dirty, harried, mangy shadow of ourself? And in particular—how have the dreams of artists who slaved so hard for this place been so completely betrayed with such bloodless ruthlessness by politicians? Of course I’m talking about your Cabinet kicking off the boat the 129 line-items which embodied the dreams of artists, to then smuggle on-board the “Creative Industries Company (TTCIC)”, with its cargo of businessmen and hidden party-financier agendas.

The great Spanish poet Federico García Lorca delivered our own Minshall’s favourite quote about the role of Art, “The poem, the song, the picture is only water drawn from the well of the people, and it should be given back to them in a cup of beauty so that they may drink—and in drinking, understand themselves.” The phrase at centre that resonates for me is: “the people”. The people… It’s always “the people”. If you destroy “the artist”, you destroy “the people”… Read the rest of this entry