Hot talks

by Shawn Cumberbatch

stephenlashleywithflagsMinister of Culture Stephen Lashley and other government officials are expected to receive an earful of concerns about the proposed Cultural Industries Development Act from local cultural practitioners tomorrow.

Barbados TODAY understands members of the local creative community, led by members of the Concerned Creative Citizens Group, will voice their concerns directly to Lashley and company during a public forum on the new legislation and related issues, being held tomorrow at the Queen’s Park Steel Shed.

In April the CCCG, represented by spokesman well-known musician John Roett, wrote the minister and voiced fresh concerns about various aspects of the act.”The members of the CCCG are deeply interested in working with yourself, the Ministry of Culture and the office of the Attorney General to make this CIDB as successful as it can be so that all stakeholders feel confident that our best interests are being served and that we are all working towards the same goal – an empowered and successful creative industry comprised of successful and confident creatives and policy makers,” the correspondence stated.

“We appreciate the enormous efforts the government has gone to, to support the writing and the debate around this bill. At the same time, as creatives, we still have deep concerns which are outlined below.

“This is a new area we are looking at as a country, and we need to ensure that we fashion the creative sector as one of the planks of the economy, and this must be done across party lines,” it added.

Their concerns centered on a number of areas including ministerial powers, the structure of the proposed Cultural Industries Authority, access to funds, and the absence of some cultural “pillars”. In recent days, Roett and others have been using their group’s Facebook page and other means to encourage cultural practitioners to attend tomorrow’s discussions.

“If you are a creative person and live in Barbados, and you actually care about your future, I absolutely implore you to be at the Queen’s park Steel Shed this coming Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. You all know me. I don’t put my all into anything that is not worth my all. Please believe me when I tell you that your being there is very, very important,” Roett told group members.

In her invitation to Barbadians who make their living from culture, and others who practise their art otherwise, Ministry of Culture representative Andrea King said the forum tomorrow was part of Government’s quest for continued dialogue on the issue.

“Since the Government’s decision to position Barbados’ cultural industries as an economic platform within the broader services sector, the Ministry of Culture has taken the lead with the drafting of legislation to stimulate and facilitate their development,” she said.

“Public engagement in this process continued last year through a consultation with key stakeholders, after which Cabinet approved the Cultural Industries Development Bill. The bill provides a regulatory framework, wide ranging incentives and a development fund which will provide financing for cultural programmes and projects.

“The Ministry of Culture will again be hosting a public forum to give an update on the bill, and to discuss the further development of the creative sector… You are specially invited to participate in this meeting, and we urge you to encourage your friends and colleagues in the creative sector to also attend,” the invitation said.

The Cultural Industries Development Act was approved by Cabinet in February, but has not yet been discussed by Parliament.

It provides for “the establishment of a regulatory framework to facilitate and encourage the sustainable growth and development of cultural industries”, “funding for cultural projects”, and “duty free concessions and income tax benefits in respect of cultural projects … and for related matters”.

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