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Upset over Creative Industries Company

ATHALIAH SAMUELS Tuesday, December 11 2012

Without culture, and the relative freedom it implies, society, even when perfect, is but a jungle. This is why any authentic creation is a gift to the future.

FEW people know how deeply involved I am in the culture of Trinidad and Tobago.

Professionally, I dance — I came up through the Best Village system — I dabble in drama and I sing in addition to being a model and an aspiring fashion designer. I love the culture of Trinidad and Tobago — it is unlike any other the world over.

It is unique, diverse and truly a thing of beauty.

Because of my intense love of my culture and my fervent desire to see it protected and nurtured, I am particularly upset about the formation of The Creative Industries Company of Trinidad and Tobago and the implications of having one umbrella body manage so many creative disciplines.

Of real concern to me is the composition of the Board of Directors and Trustees — names one would not usually associate with culture and its promotion.

Persons involved in dance, film, drama, singing and other entities identified and earmarked as “Creative Industries” need to have the relative freedom to chart their own course. While the idea of having fiscal overseers is a good one; as many creative people do lack skills in marketing and planning, having all the various bodies be governed by one company is a mistake. If, however, this is the Government’s plan for the Creative Industries, why then are we not seeing appointees who are involved in a real sense in the arts and entertainment and the culture of Trinidad and Tobago? Would not Peter Minshall, Leroy Clarke, Penelope Spencer, Jit Samaroo and Linda Pollard Lake have been better appointees to such a board? Many within the artistic community are upset by the manner and speed with which the company was formed and the board constituted.

Apparently there was little consultation and many of the concerns raised over the last year have not been dealt with.

Decisions affecting the growth and advancement of our culture need to be made not in haste but with careful consideration of what those decisions could mean for many of our struggling local artistes and cultural performers. Many of our art forms are dying — Calypso is in danger of becoming extinct, our Carnival, once revered as “the greatest show on earth” has become nothing more than a cheap imitation of Carnival in Rio de Janeiro — void of any real creativity or purpose. The Creative Arts have never been about generating profit and wealth. The culture of a nation is something intrinsic, deep and spiritual. While I can appreciate the statements of various ministers of government concerning the lack of return on their $90 million investment — to look at the Creative Industries within the context of financial gain would be to completely ignore their real value to any society.

Culture is what connects us as a people — it is what unites us even when political differences, race and religion try so desperately to divide us. Culture is not the sole domain of anyone group but rather it is the passion shared through our expressions, our movements, the stories handed down to us from generations past, our cuisine and so many other intangibles.

As Miss. Trinidad and Tobago World, my job was to share our rich history and wonderful culture with the rest of the world. I can honestly say that it was my pleasure to do so and the response was overwhelming.

If we are serious about developing the Creative Arts as a commercially viable entity, we need to leave the management of their affairs to the people who are deeply involved and committed. We cannot have the formation of a company like the one being proposed as this is not likely to have the desired effect or outcome and we must leave nepotism, favouritism and cronyism out of it.

My advice to those in power would be to rethink this move and have proper and real consultation before going forward.

If the Creative Industries Company is allowed to fulfill its mandate, this could be the death knell for Culture and the Creative Arts in Trinidad and Tobago.

Athaliah Samuel represented Trinidad and Tobago at Miss.

World 2012. Comments and suggestions may be sent via e-mail to a_samuel2012@yahoo.com

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