Minister of Culture, Stephen Lashley (right) is pictured as he presents the Ivan Payne Award?? to Andy Archer at last night’s NIFCA Gala held at Ilaro Court. (C. Pitt/BGIS)

The approach to the creative industries must drastically change if Barbados is to truly diversify its economy and give meaningful expression to its creative talents.????

So says Minister of Culture, Stephen Lashley, as he addressed the National Independence Festival of Creative Arts (NIFCA) Gala, last evening at Ilaro Court.

Mr. Lashley told the gathering of awardees: "I am making a call for all of us to demonstrate our belief in the potential of the creative sector to transform our economy. Indeed, it is my belief that our future survival depends on how rapidly our creative sector can accelerate both locally and on the international stage."

He added: "We are also at an advanced stage of creating the structure that will inform the special vehicle for the development of the cultural industries as announced in the last Financial Statement and Budgetary Proposals.?? As you know, that special vehicle will be financed by a $50 million dollar injection over the next five years.?? A preliminary report has already been completed in this regard.??

"This, along with the incentives to be contained in the Cultural Industries Development legislation will refocus our approach to this critically emerging sector and create much needed opportunities for NIFCA graduates and cultural practitioners."

Concerning some of the challenges faced in terms of producing NIFCA, he said:?? "We recognise that there is a shortage of venue spaces and a lack of adequate ???second step’ opportunities for those who shine in the festival.

"But we are working on the solutions.?? As you would have heard, the Government of the People’s Republic of China has generously offered to provide us with a custom-built cultural facility. Once in place, this Centre will go a long way towards alleviating the problem of venue spaces.?? To date, the Ministry has toured four sites as possible locations for this facility and once all of the technical and planning issues are concluded, we will be in a position to move forward on this initiative."

Once completed, Mr. Lashley gave the assurance that the facility would complement the newly renovated Queen’s Park Steel Shed and, in time, a restored Empire Theatre, Daphne Joseph Hackett Theatre and Queen’s Park Gallery.

He added that due to the present difficult economic circumstances, the Ministry of Culture was actively pursuing avenues of possible funding to restore and preserve its heritage buildings.??

As a means of encouraging more public involvement in the sourcing of funds to preserve Barbados’ historic buildings, the Minister said he was also contemplating the establishment of a special task force of experts in the field, as well as members of the artistic community, to work alongside the Government "in bringing about more urgency to this matter". In the meantime, he said, suggestions and input from all Barbadians on

how historic buildings could be rescued, would be welcomed.

The Culture Minister appealed to the private sector to incorporate into their new building and expansion plans, space for artistic performances and displays.??

Mr. Lashley noted that it was extremely heartening to see the wide range of entries in the various disciplines, and congratulated all of the award winners and expressed the hope that even more Barbadians would enter the competition next year.

Among the awardees, Carlisle Trotman received BDS$3,500 in the Visual Arts category and the Prime Minister’s Award for Originality for his ???Self Portrait’, while Damien Leacock and Aisha Commissiong copped the Prime Minister’s Scholarship of BDS$35,000 for exhibiting the greatest training potential.


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