The development of Caribbean theatre must be linked to the expansion of the regional film industry.

This was the view of Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Youth, Celia Toppin, as she addressed a Youth Forum of the Caribbean Secondary School Drama Festival at the Queen???s Park Steel Shed last Friday.

Ms. Toppin noted that linking theatre and film had the potential to contribute significantly to ???our vulnerable economies???, and suggested that Caribbean nations needed to heed the advice of diversifying their economies and investing in the cultural industries.

???It is only through the fullest possible development of culture and the arts in the region, that we will be able to meet these challenges head-on, to become secure in the knowledge of who we are and confident of the achievements of which we are capable,??? she said.

The senior culture official told the youngsters that Barbados had recently passed its Cultural Industries Development Act, and proposed that every Caribbean country should ensure similar legislation was implemented to encourage investment in their cultural sectors.

She also stressed that creative practitioners must play an important role in the development of their livelihoods and to a larger extent, their industry.

???As it relates to theatre, our playwriters and script writers must develop techniques which are worthy of being performed and produced by theatre companies anywhere in the world. Our Caribbean actors must also aim for the skies, honing their skills to the extent that they can be sufficiently qualified to perform on any stage,??? she outlined.

Ms. Toppin further warned: ???We must aim for nothing less than the highest levels of creativity and innovation. Our cultural goods and services must be of the highest quality, exemplifying levels of excellence of which I am confident that we are capable.???

Moreover, she indicated that if the regional theatre and film sub-industry was to be fully developed, it was equally vital to expose young people to the existing possibilities for employment and revenue earning.

Ms. Toppin also said that the development of regional theatre and film would contribute to identity strengthening and building regional self-esteem.

The Youth Forum attracted student drama groups from eight regional countries, including Barbados, Jamaica and St. Lucia.

Author: Shamkoe Pil??

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