Minister of Culture, Stephen Lashley, enjoying the??cultural programme with Permanent Secretary, Shirley Farnum (right), who has??responsibility for??Culture and Sports??and Director of the National Cultural Foundation, Dr. Donna Hunte-Cox.??

The Ministries of Culture and Education have already started to discuss possible strategies to integrate the arts into the schools’ curricula.

This disclosure has come from the new Minister of Culture, Stephen Lashley, who said they would be offered, not as course options, but as requirements.

He made the comments last Friday evening while addressing the opening of the Second Caribbean Educative Arts Festival at the Errol Barrow Centre for Creative Imagination at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus. The one-week festival, which ends this Friday, has as its theme Inward Stretch, Outward Stretch; Celebrating Our Ancestors, Inspiring Our Youth.

Culture on their minds: Minister of Culture, Stephen Lashley, in conversation with Dr. Gladstone Yearwood, of the Errol Barrow Centre for Creative Imagination.

Mr. Lashley told his audience that the festival was timely because it also provided an excellent opportunity for participants to examine various approaches to integrate the arts and culture into the education curricula. "The facts speak for themselves. We know that substantial research has been carried out, and that it has been proven that involvement in cultural and artistic activities enhances the overall development of young people," he stated.

According to him, Barbados, in collaboration with the Inter-American Committee on Culture of the Organization of American States, recently organised a workshop for officials in culture and education, to share initiatives that integrated the arts into education with great success.

He added that a comprehensive mapping exercise would be undertaken and that the best practices taken from around the hemisphere would eventually be collected, published and formally presented to the Ministers of Culture and Education.

Mr. Lashley expressed the view that the region needed more opportunities to come together to discuss the role of culture in its development. "The Second Caribbean Educative Arts Festival comes at a time when the countries of the developing world are being called upon to expedite the diversification of their vulnerable economies and in so doing, acknowledge the incredible socio-economic potential of the cultural and creative industries.

"In the context of our changing economic environment, it is our responsibility to teach our people that the arts can be more than a hobby. The time has come when we owe it to our young people, in particular, to show them that there are indeed viable alternatives to traditional professions such as medicine, law and engineering," he surmised.

The Minister maintained that "a total change in the way we think" was required, and suggested that Barbadians must start to see themselves as "successful producers" of cultural goods and services, and not simply as consumers.

He stressed that the youth must be empowered to meet the needs of an emerging Caribbean creative economy. But, Mr. Lashley noted that developing the economic potential of the cultural goods and services "must not compromise the integrity of our uniquely Caribbean cultures". saustin@barbados.gov.bb

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