Get serious!

by Shawn Cumberbatch

It is long past time for Barbadians, politicians especially, to stop talking and exploiting the island’s artists and do something fundamental to help them develop and flourish.

And former National Cultural Foundation Cultural Officer, Dance, Danny Diallo Hinds, believes it would take much more than the heavily-touted Cultural Industries Development Act, which is scheduled to be debated by Parliament, to achieve this.

Hinds, a well known dancer and drummer who returned to the United States two years ago to teach these skills to the young and old in Kansas City, Missouri, told Bajan Vibes while the current debate on the cultural industries here was long overdue, “action” was more important.

“Support for the arts in Barbados has always been a major concern. The main problem to me is the focus of the arts in every aspect of the Barbados cultural landscape,” he said.

“Where the arts is concerned you will find a heavy focus on entertainment which gives it a seasonal approach as well as a social and recreational foundation. This in my opinion reduces the value and importance of every art form from the visual to the performing.”

Hinds, who teaches dance with the City in Motion School of Dance, and visual arts with the Boys and Girls Club of Kansas City, said part of the problem was that “politicians most of the time … miss the fundamental essence of the cultural industry of which we have been outstanding contributors for many years but got nothing in return”.

“From the board of tourism to national festivals, ceremonies and political campaigning, they all from year to year survive at the mercy and hard work of the artists. It is time that the country in general recognises and respects the cultural value of its artists and provide the necessary support to move the country forward if it is going to survive this growing global industry,” he suggested.

The Founder and Artistic Director of Ayotunde, a multiple performing arts company, also said it was important to have a good cultural foundation, and that the Barbadian education system needed to pay more attention not the arts.

“The support should begin with arts in education, where every area of schooling from primary to UWI should be outfitted with teachings of the arts as a means of educational and cultural development, providing working opportunities all year round for many different artist as teachers and mentors,” he said

“This will definitely raise the level of appreciation and respect for the arts, at the same time providing pathways for improving and raising the standard and quality of the art expression as well as the professional approach and productivity of the artist.”

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