The Community Arts Development Programme is the first step towards the establishment of a National Performing Arts School.

Minister of Culture, Sports and Youth, Stephen Lashley, made this assertion last Saturday, at the Community Arts Development Programme Showcase held at the Errol Barrow Centre for Creative Imagination (EBCCI).

He explained that while a National Performing Arts School would be critical for the development of the island???s performing arts sector, the implementation of the Community Arts Development Programme was also essential for the youth.

According to the Culture Minister, the latter initiative was designed to provide children between the ages of eight and 16, with greater access to quality arts programmes, regardless of their socio-economic status, education, ethnicity, race, age or gender.??In addition, it sought to expose communities to performing arts and foster a sense of national identity.

The five-month intensive training course, which was funded by UNESCO, catered to 48 participants. They received training once a week in music, dance or theatre at the EBCCI, under the guidance of industry professionals such as Roger Gittens, Amanda Cumberbatch and Sharma Harding.

Minister Lashley observed that the children underwent ???a veritable transformation??? and noted that this reinforced the need for more programmes to be provided.?????We owe it to our children to increase opportunities for them to be exposed to the arts, both as practitioners and as consumers,??? he said, adding that the benefits of artistic activities were many.

???Involvement in the arts builds confidence, self-esteem and strengthens identity. It promotes discipline, encourages unity as well as respect and tolerance for cultural diversity. It also helps children cope with changes in society, while encouraging an appreciation for, and an understanding of their heritage, both tangible and intangible,??? he pointed out.

He further outlined that artistic training helps children to question, make connections, be innovative and solve problems, as well as improve their communication skills, and enhance their ability to resolve conflict.

Moreover, he noted that infrastructure needed to be put in place to ensure Barbadians develop and harness their talent, and access national and global markets.?????This infrastructure has been lacking for many years, but must now be addressed as part of a comprehensive package to ensure the creative sector can generate more foreign exchange for Barbados,??? Mr. Lashley stressed.

Author: Shamkoe Pil??

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