Let the music play and the children always sing 

At a time when the Barbados economy continues to struggle, when respect for law and order seems to be declining, and criminality appears to be increasing, we could perhaps be forgiven for constantly dwelling on the negative side of Barbados.

But there are so many Barbadian positives to celebrate, that we would exhaust the space on these pages if we attempted to pinpoint them all. Suffice to say that we highlight a shining example of sterling contribution to Barbadian youth and celebrate the excellence of some of those engaged in entertainment and the performing arts.

The Richard Stoute Teen Talent Competition is a Barbadian treasure. It has become an institution that must outlive the man whose name it bears. On Sunday as Barbadians sat at Hilton Barbados and were enthralled by the tremendous talent exhibited by our young artistes, led by the precocious talent of the 2017 winner Trinity Clarke, the importance of the occasion could hardly have been missed by those with an eye on the island’s future.

As the 11-year-old Alexandra School gem showed the quality and class that belied her tender years, it came as a timely reminder that with the abundance of artistic talent on the island, every effort must be made to give that aptitude full exposure on the local, regional and international stage. Both music and sports are billion dollar industries and where we find exceptional talent it must be nurtured and exposed with a vision as to how that asset can redound not only to the benefit of the specific individual but to the country from which the talent has sprung.

We have produced Rihanna and from observations made over the years at the Richard Stoute Teen Talent Competition, the National Independence Festival of Creative Arts and the Crop Over Festival, there are other megastars and world-class artistes out there waiting to be unveiled, encouraged and prodded in the right direction.

We have tended to look at traditional means of wealth generation but long gone are the days when artistes or sportsmen were quizzed as to what was their other or real job outside of their specific calling. In 2016 the music industry in the United States of America generated $17.2 billion. It is estimated that by 2021 – four years hence – the revenue in the USA from the music industry will be more than $22 billion. Statistics suggest that worldwide revenue from the music industry between 2012 and 2015 stood at US$45 billion and is expected to grow to over $57 billion in 2021. These are numbers at which we cannot scoff.

It is within this context we insist that where exceptional talent is spotted that everything be done to guide it to its maximum potential. And where there is a nursery for such talent, that everything must be done to promote, preserve and propel that entity beyond specific generations.

The Richard Stoute Teen Talent Competition has produced more than 80 percent of the who’s who of Barbadian musical talent over the past four decades. In the absence of such a structured annual production line, we dare say that many of those who now make a living from entertainment or who have facilitated the influx of foreign exchange into Barbados would have had no avenue to showcase their budding talents.

But while events such as NIFCA have built-in continuity because of the involvement of the state, we are concerned about what happens with brands such as the Richard Stoute Teen Talent Competition when founders make their earthly departure as we all must at some juncture. Is there a succession plan in place for such enterprises? What will be the role of the Government – if any – in ensuring this specific annual event’s longevity if there is no succession plan in place or if an existing plan comes to nothing? It is a nursery that must not be allowed to perish.

That there has been no other consistent, parallel, privately organized event in the last 40 years to provide such exposure to our young people speaks volumes. The advent and subsequent swift demise of a few other talent opportunities such as the Revo-dub-o-lution initiative demonstrate that such undertakings are not easy. Those who stay the course against the odds are deserving of the highest national praise.

We offer congratulations to all those bold young people motivated to showcase their talents before a discerning and sometimes highly critical public. We offer congratulations to the 2017 winner who is unquestionably gifted beyond her years. And we pay homage to Mr Stoute for his tremendous efforts. May his name be called, the show celebrated and our youth exposed across the ages.

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