Prime Minister Freundel Stuart has reaffirmed Government???s commitment to the development of the literary arts in Barbados.
Mr. Stuart gave this assurance today while delivering an address at the launch of the Bim Literary Festival and Book Fair, at Ilaro Court.
The Prime Minister told his audience, which included outstanding local, regional and international writers and senior public officials, that Government had been unhesitating in its support to that sector through the Ministry of Culture.
He continued: ???The National Cultural Foundation continues to provide opportunities for our up-and-coming writers to perfect their craft, through programmes such as the Writers??? Clinic which attracted 74 participants in 2015, and to showcase their work at events such as the Crop Over Read-In which attracted 25 writers in 2015.
???The National Independence Festival of Creative Arts offers yet another avenue where the work of our writers can be evaluated and rewarded. The National Library Service, whose headquarters will be used for the book launches and other activities, continues to make a significant contribution.???
Mr. Stuart expressed the view that literature, whether through the written or spoken word, should be valued as a medium of self-expression; a canvas for imagination; and an inventory of a community???s life, available for transmission from generation to generation.
???The preeminent role of literature in the entire cultural life of a country must therefore not be underestimated. With our focus ??? both in Barbados and in other CARICOM countries ??? on the cultural industries as an area ripe for development, the potential of literature in all its forms as a sub-sector of the cultural industries cannot be ignored.
???It is my settled conviction that decision makers in Barbados and the wider Caribbean would be selling this region short if we were to ignore the crucial importance of literature and the arts to the total liberation of our people,??? he stated.
Mr. Stuart pledged that at the regional level, he would use all the opportunities presented to him to lend support across the region, so as to ensure that the rich literary tradition of the Caribbean lives on.
He pointed out that writers had contributed much to the country???s development over the years. According to him, Independence is about the decolonising of the mind and writers were the persons best placed to facilitate that effort.
The Prime Minister said he valued the emphasis placed by BIM Lit Fest on encouraging younger generations to develop the practice of reading, for there was no better instrument for the development and training of young minds.
During the launch, Mr. Stuart presented Evan Marshall, son of renowned writer Paule Marshall, with the lifetime achievement award, on behalf of his mother, from Writers??? Ink.
Mr. Marshall said it was a ???fantastic accolade??? to his mother, and expressed pleasure that she was being honoured. Describing her as a ???towering??? writer and person of the Caribbean, he said he only started to appreciate her work from about the age of 11.