Blog Archives

Emancipation, Carnival and our festivals

This article continues exploring the stakeholder masterplan for the Creative Sector—plans to grow it from a $1.9 billion annual earner to a $7 billion one in four short years. These interventions were submitted to Cabinet for inclusion in the 2013/14 Budget. Festivals earn about $1.3 billion annually. Carnival earns the lion’s share. Festivals can earn $3 billion annually. Here’s how.

In my last article I said it’s our Gift that we’re ‘the Festival Nation’. Somehow the ‘festival tribes’ of the races of the world ended up here—and created a nation where every month we re-initiate ourselves with sacred and secular festivals. Unlike other places in the world we’ve made these festivals public, national, and inclusive. The entire island feels ownership and belonging to the narrative of these festivals to some degree. Few other people open their ethnic festivals to outsiders. This coming together of festival tribes from Amerindian, Africa, Europe, and Asia created the mother Festival of Trinidad’s Carnival.

In many festivals with an East Indian component we’re past 100 years of celebration. In Carnival we’re moving into 180 years. Other festivals are into their 50th year… These ages are important because we’ve not built the institutions to document, analyse, and pass on our Festival Legacy. This failure to create institutions to support our civilisation—like proper Academies and Universities, proper Museums or Heritage Sites, or proper Historical Societies and Guilds—means we’ve left the responsibility of recording and transmitting tradition to practitioners themselves.

The age of our festivals is important because traditions collapse after the fourth generation if the central institution has fallen or been weakened. Twenty years is a generational cycle. This means most of our traditions are past their fourth generation… Read the rest of this entry

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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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