The National Cultural Foundation (NCF) must be reshaped and retooled to better respond to the demands of the emerging creative sector.

This view was expressed today by Minister of Culture, Stephen Lashley, as he opened the NCF’s Art Symposium Taking Your Art to Market at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.

Mr. Lashley told his audience that advertisements had already been placed to fill some key positions within the Foundation. "In addition, a new Board is in place with diverse skills and talents and charged with a mandate to create new efficiencies at the NCF," he stated.

He explained that the restructuring of the NCF was one of the suggestions of the Medium -Term Development Strategy of February 2010, which outlined a number of key strategies designed to help guide the development of the sector.

The Minister added that another critical strategy was the strengthening of existing legislation to make the cultural sector comparable to other economic sectors. "Hence, the move by the Government to enact the Cultural Industries Development Act which will provide fiscal incentives, income tax concessions and financial assistance by means

of a Cultural Industries Development Fund which is to be established under the legislation. It is my intention to get this legislation to Parliament this year," he disclosed.

According to him, the draft legislation should be a key point of public discussion and he urged the media to assist in disseminating the information.?? Mr. Lashley pointed out that he had already alerted the Foundation that as a follow-up to the symposium, a series of consultations with key stakeholders should be arranged, so as to provide an opportunity for discussion on the provisions of the Bill.

Mr. Lashley continued: "This legislation is necessary in my estimation to give renewed focus to the cultural industries sector and to accelerate its development. It is clear that we cannot afford to delay it any longer.

"It is the clearest signal to date that it is the view of the Government that the cultural sector is more than Crop Over and NIFCA. I want to encourage comment on the draft Bill from the private sector as well because the focus must be on further developing a collaborative approach between the public and private sectors in growing the cultural industries."

The Minister maintained that he would like to see more joint public/private sector partnerships within the sector. He disclosed his Ministry had already received proposals from private sector interests for the restoration of the Empire Theatre and they were currently being reviewed.

Mr. Lashley surmised that Government had signaled its commitment to protect and develop Barbadian culture in all of its expressions by introducing a number of initiatives, including tabling a National Strategy for the Development of the Cultural Industries in Parliament last year. He added that a National Cultural Policy was also approved by Cabinet last year and suggested that every Barbadian should obtain a copy of it and review its contents.

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