Culture law trial

Whoever gets the job of minister of culture will have an immediate and tough task get a significant segment of the cultural industry to buy into new legislation that was drafted before the last Parliament expired.

The creative community has spoken out against the new Cultural Industries Development Bill, formerly known as the Cultural Development Bill.

In a statement released online, president of the Concerned Creative Citizens Group, John Roett, stated no additional consultation was made between the body and the Ministry of Culture in order to examine the final draft of the document. Jut prior of last Thursday’s general election, then Minister of Family, Culture, Sports and Youth, Stephen Lashley, announced during a youth rally at Ellerton, St. George that the Cultural Industries Development Bill had been approved by Cabinet.

“We would at this point like to make it very clear that there are still many aspects of this bill with much that we are not in agreement with, and that we reject completely the inference that all creatives have been consulted on the contents on this bill, resulting in an outcome which all parties involved have agreed upon,” Roett said.

When contacted by Barbados TODAY after the release of the email, Roett declined to comment on the aspect of the bill with which the creative community disagreed. “We do not want to be antagonistic,” he said.

“Creatives are apolitical and we are not concerned with which party is in government, and if I start to nitpick at that, it will seem like we are being antagonistic — that is not our aim at all.”

Another member of the 1,248-member group, artist Corrie Scott said the bill the creative community received and the latest version were “like chalk and cheese”.

“We were working with the Government on this for well over a year [and] each time we have been given a paper and a group of us would work on it together. We were told we would see it again before it was tabled, but we did not.”

Scott expressed the need for a bill that would be able to bring all creative people under the same umbrella – “from the big business man to the man selling paintings on the beach.”

According to the 62-page Cultural Industries Development Bill, the Minister of Culture has the sole right to approve a cultural agency, overseeing its registration, funding and ability to receive concessions. In addition, a Barbados Cultural Industries Development Authority is to be established with a mandate of “promoting, assisting and facilitating the development of cultural industries” and the creation of marketing strategies. This entity will be helmed by a chief executive officer who will answer to the Minister.

A fund will also be created as well as concessions for heritage building and conservation.

In the statement, Roett called for a “win win” situation for the government and those in creative industries.

“Whether the DLP retains the Government, or the BLP is voted back into power, we would like to let both parties know that this is the only way a bill of this importance should be allowed to be approved of by Cabinet and passed by

Parliament — when all creatives have had the opportunity to go over all elements of such an important document, and be involved in meaningful, intelligent dialogue with those in power and with whom such great responsibility lies.”

Roett emphasised it was important for creatives to continually have a say in the bill in order to safeguard the success of the next generation.

“This is not just for those of us for whom creativity is our profession and only source of income, but this is for the future of those in the creative arts who will follow in the years ahead.”

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