Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A Manifesto for We. Culture


See Politics here and Social here.

A lot has come to the fore regarding NAPA. The members of ACTT have brought to light the inefficiencies of NAPA as a result of the inability of the present government to listen to what the Artists of T&T have to say.

Now in all fairness to the government, ACTT's ideas, though warranted, cannot be instituted in one building, and I don't think they expected it. BUT what it does do is show that the government's view of culture and the Artists' view of culture are two distinct and separate things.

I don't pretend to to understand the deep ramifications of Pan, Carinval and other forms of "culture" in our society and I am certainly no expert in theatre and other forms of expression, so a lot of what I say here really comes from my own observations and reading the "Secret history and tradegy that is NAPA" I also refer heavily to an article written by Mr Paolo Kernahan which you can read here. In the end what I propose is, should government try to even REGULATE culture? Or should it be privatised?

If one goes to any major metropolitan city abroad, different cultures have seeped into the city's DNA. Reggae and Soca living next door to Classical and Pop. But in the end each has its own distinct make up and its own distinct individuality. There will be followers of a certain genre and supporters and PATRONS of certain art forms.

In T&T the major patron of the arts in T&T is the Government and while this is necessary and important, it is also a really BAD IDEA.


Well in our very SMALL population made up of so many different "Cultures" the government runs the risk of inevitably favoring one "Culture" over another. The Chutney people say they not getting enough money for their Art, and the T&T Theatre Workshop say they being victimised while the PM gives millions to a classical band called "Divine Echoes" Any new Administration would have to address all the myriad different "Art forms" that request money.

So I propose, stop all.

Yes. Stop paying everybody for everything. This INCLUDES Carnival. Provide the space, charge for the use of it by admission and organise the security etc. (a MAJOR undertaking by any Government for all the Carnival activities) But stop paying out money for the prizes and stop all other payments. In fact don't even charge for the rights to broadcast it. Just regulate it. The whole Carnival Commission needs revamping, far be it for me to suggest how at this stage, but the one word I would use here:


But Audit.

In other words don't GIVE money to NCC, have them look for it themselves. That way if there is bobol in the NCC its not tax payer's money jumping up in the band! However the Government won't just be leaving the "Culture" out in the cold. The setting up of TRUSTS to draw down on yearly for activities would be overseen by a 3rd party committee headed by maybe two senators for either side of the bench. In other words this comes back to Constitutional and Electoral Reform. Once that foundation has been repaired (rebuilt) all these other things fall into place.

In the end the government should put money into the following areas:
  1. The Museum and Education facilities for the teaching of Carnival, Ramleela, and other different forms of culture. But the rest of the support has to come from private sources. This way you preserve the old and provide a basis to develop and create new artistic forms
  2. The spaces have to be rented, again nominal fees to ALL concerned and a yearly timetable of events set up so everyone knows what's happening when. Really all you need is the managerial skills to do it.
  3. A re-look at the spaces that exist for holding these celebration and above all a referendum must be held with all parties concerned to find he best possible way of moving forward with our culture. All groups must be involved.
  4. We have to make culture into an organised movement involving all stake holders and it has to be equal and fair. It also has to be run like a business. Involving the Ministry Of Tourism for carnival and other events to make sure that they are pulled off smoothly and under budget and that we get maximum benefit from tourists who will be spending money to see these events and places.
In the end we can't put a finger on ONE thing that we can call "We culture" but to say EVERYTHING is we culture. Though the government can be the protector of the arts through laws and enforcement, for example copyright, etc. they cannot be expected to prop ALL art forms up indefinitely. A system of supporting the arts but not making the arts dependent on the government should be phased in. None more so than Carnival. In my estimation Carnival can well stand on its own without government "propping." Provide the space and they will come.

And that's it.

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