Key sector

Minister of Culture, Stephen Lashley says he has always been a believer that the cultural industry will one day emerge as one of the key sectors to diversify Barbados’ economy.

This belief was reiterated this morning as he commended handicraft artist, Rosyln Watson, for acquiring the UNESCO Award of Excellence for Handicraft.

Watson, who was the first person in the sub region to receive this award, she gained it for her place mats made from coconut rib. She has been in the business for some 50 years.

Speaking at the presentation held at the Minister’s office at Sky Mall in Haggatt Hall, he said the achievement not only spoke volumes for the quality and marketability of the artiste’s work but as well that of all creative products and the future development of such skills in Barbados.

Describing it as a “significant move forward in the area of handicraft”, Lashley said the award gave him a lot of inspiration and confirmed that the Cultural Industries Bill, which he was expected to pilot through Parliament, “was a move in the right direction” since UNESCO, a well recognised authentic Barbadian work as worthy of such an internationally acclaimed and prestigious award.

Adding that this particular award should signal, particularly to younger creative artistes, that there is an avenue for them to aspire to achieve.

“It is certainly a privilege to be part of this and to congratulate Ms. Watson on her phenomenal achievement… I hope that Ms. Watson’s work will be seen internationally. The award gives her work the opportunity of existing her talents in some of the major markets and what that does for Barbados is it gives us that marketing edge that no other medium can because it is now being backed by the strength and the kind of significance which usually associates with UNESCO,” he said.

“When one of our very own has been able to take that generous stride out and secure such an award, certainly all goes well for our future development. We talk a lot about the creative sector in Barbados and to many people they see it only within the contents of what can be done within Barbados, this signals that this particular product is of an international standard. I don’t think that we understand where this particular art form can go and to the extent that this event is a pristine opportunity to shower praise on not only on Ms. Watson but the fact that this is a Barbadian product certainly augurs well in terms of us saying ‘we have something of worth to offer and we can use it’.

“Part of our National Youth Policy is to inspire and allow for the transfer of knowledge to our young people and we believe that this kind of skill is of the kind that should be transferred. I know that you [Watson] will be very anxious to work along with us in helping other persons to learn the art and …. I hope that at some time we can partner with you, because we have a lot of enthusiastic young people in Barbados,” said Lashley, the Minister also responsible for Youth, as he further commended Watson.

He said his Ministry would continue to aggressively propel the development of the sector and vowed that there would be greater synergies between them and the various agencies responsible for the marketing of creative products. The marriage and the closer collaboration, he said, would further entrench the implementation of the national policy as they moved into communities to tact the innovation of creative artistes. (KC)

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