by Kimberley Cummins
For Barbados’ cultural sector to grow there must be support from Government.
This position was expressed strongly by producer of the annual Barbados Music Awards, Ronnie Morris who, in an interview with Barbados TODAY admitted that though there was some support he did not believe that the amount of support being given was enough to get the results needed.
“I think in an age where this country is in a deep, dark recession that for my small mind, and small point of view, we need to explore all our options – all of our financial options. People like me, like Gilbert Rowe, who have put everything they have to the point of self-destruction into the cultural industries, why?
“Because of passion, commitment to the development of the industry, commitment to the belief that this country has people that can take it to the next level in music but we need the buy in of people,” he said.
“I feel bad that we had a Barbados Music Awards and we made efforts to reach and sit with the Minister [of Culture] and could not for a year. I don’t care what personal feelings are there, for the good of the country and for the interest in what we are doing that should not have happened – period…
“He didn’t attend on Sunday because we would have reached out to him before and made every effort to meet with him, sit down, do a post mortem on the last BMA and to plan this one. Our requests for meetings were denied constantly and at this point I have no interest in meeting.
“I am not interested in hearing rhetoric… I have seen executives in Barbados who have the talent and who have the ability give up and go to work in farming because they don’t see that the interest is two-way. You feel that you are giving all this energy, you’re trying, you taking on the financial burden of doing these things, not because you want to be seen – but my aim is to make sure, just like Richard Stoute did in the ’70s and the ’80s and continues to do, so that you don’t have a bunch of talented Barbadians, who in their youth, don’t get the opportunities and then when they age everybody says ‘cuh dear, he should of been this or he should of that’. I am tired of hearing that…,” Morris said.
The entertainer and promoter added that in the past he and other stakeholders in the music industry believed that it was progressing but now it had come to a standstill and he once again blamed it on a lack of support.
“In the past we have had more support from Government than at present and that is a fact. I can say that with a very clear conscience. I found in the past you would have had situations where, I don’t even know if it was a large sum of money but I know they were years when we had every single … Barbados Music Awards we sat with the Minister of Culture and we had discussions: How is the show going to go on? Which direction is it going to go?
“Certainly with the Barbados Labour Party there was no question, there was total, total support. There was never a year that Owen Arthur did not attend the Barbados Music Awards. Even in years when he was not Prime Minister he attended the Barbados Music Awards and if he was not in attendance his wife and children were – even Sunday night.
Cannot attest to his support
“David Thompson has attended the show…, but is the current Minister of Culture supportive of the Barbados Music Awards…? No! I cannot attest to his support.
“I know for a fact when David Thompson was alive you felt that the music industry was going somewhere, when Owen Arthur was Prime Minister you felt that the music industry was going somewhere. Right now we are struggling and it is not for money, sometimes you might just want a minister to sit with you and say ‘We support what you are doing, we are going to send out information to our partners in different countries and invite them to the Barbados Music Awards … or just to attend,” he continued.
In response, Minister of Culture, Stephen Lashley, told Barbados TODAY that his Government was very committed to the development of the cultural sector, but stressed that “support can only be provided once it is requested”. He said that his ministry had not received any correspondence†from Morris requesting any such support.
Furthermore, he said, it was customary for the Minister of Culture to receive an invitation to events such as the BMA, but he was not invited.
“I was not invited, I have not received any correspondence from him. Last year I was not invited as well and I believe no minister of Government was either. I think when the query was raised Mr. Morris said that our names are always at the door. Do you believe that?” said Lashley.
Last Sunday’s BMA’s was the eighth edition and Morris said it was one of the best.
Scouts from as far as Austria, Germany, South Africa, Denmark, England, the United States and Canada attended the show in hope of finding the next big star and many left pleased with the talent on display. So much so that discussions have already begun about some of the artists, including Nikki Nicole, ViZion, Ruth Collymore and Lil’ Rick. email@example.com