Minister of Culture, Stephen Lashley (second from left) at a past NIFCA exhibition. (FP)

The next evolutionary phase for the National Independence Festival of Creative Arts (NIFCA) is to market it as an international festival.

This assertion came from Minister of Culture, Stephen Lashley, as he delivered the feature address at the opening of the NIFCA Visual Arts and Photography Exhibition and Film & Video Preview on Sunday night.

He told artistes and guests gathered at the Old Spirit Bond Mall, The City, that as Barbados geared up to celebrate its 46th year of Independence, part of the national vision was to see the country solidifying its global presence in many spheres; the cultural industries of which NIFCA formed an important part, being one of them.

"This is why I am of the view that the next evolutionary phase for NIFCA must be its marketing as an international festival. I am sure that you will agree that NIFCA is a natural attraction not only for Barbadians but for visitors who can bring much valuable foreign exchange to Barbados. While we view these fantastic exhibits in awe of their sheer excellence, our focus through exposing NIFCA to the world, can translate into sales of the exhibits as well," Mr. Lashley emphasised.

"The potential for global presence is there. This must be the way we seek to diversify our economy, through transforming our cultural sector into a full-fledged industry in its own right," he added.

The minister said the creative sector was left with the challenge of defining the work of the fine artist, artisan and photographer from the myriad of images that were easily produced and circulated. However, he pointed out that the quality work of local artists ultimately separated them from those who "snap, muddle and play with the same technology for leisure".

Mr. Lashley explained that it was the commitment of Barbadian artistes to developing their medium of choice that would elevate their craft to the level of "truly bearing the authentic stamp of a national identity". This "cultural DNA", he noted, would make local artistic products competitive on the world stage. It would also help artistes tap into an overseas market that was vast and awaiting the entrepreneurial impetus of the Barbadian creative sector.

The minister said the pending enactment of the Cultural Industries Bill would make this journey easier since important tax and other incentives would be made available for the first time.


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