Congratulatory Statement on ??Rihanna???s achievement of an AMA Icon Award??

It gives me great pleasure to congratulate Rihanna on receiving the first-ever Icon Award at the American Music Awards. This is a triumph not only for Rihanna and her family but indeed for Barbados.

As a proud Barbadian, I, too, felt as though I had received this award. It was a glorious moment to see this humble, intelligent young woman, who just a few short years ago was still a schoolgirl attending Combermere School and living in Westbury Road, transformed into a fashion and music icon, being acknowledged by one of the greatest countries in the world for her craft. This award serves as a source of inspiration for young artists in Barbados and for us within the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Youth.

At only 25 years of age, the world has recognised her talent and ability and this has been exemplified by the numerous awards she continues to receive. She is one of the top music sellers in the world and to date her sales have outstripped those of Bob Marley.

To quote the US Political commentator Bill Maher, ???She has become, I think, the voice of our time???. Barbados owes her a great gratitude; because of her, millions of people all over the world now know about Barbados, even the idea that Barbados is part of Jamaica is dissipating.

From her achievements and her body of work, she has shown the power of the arts. For us in the Ministry, it reinforces our work to develop the cultural industries, strengthened recently by the passage through Parliament of the Cultural Industries Development Act.

All across the developing world the cultural and creative sector is being used by governments to transform their economies, to build national identities and to rebrand cities. This is the sector that is most attractive to the youth, one that allows them to explore their creativity, to let their voices be heard and to generate employment.

Rihanna???s success reinforces what we have been saying all along, that is, the arts can be a viable employment alternative. We know Rihanna is just the beginning, there are many more talented Barbadians waiting for the right moment to emerge.

My Ministry and its sister agencies will continue to work assiduously to set up the appropriate infrastructure to provide training in various disciplines, to ensure that our cultural products and services reach world class standards.

Author: Ministry of Culture, Sports and Youth

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