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Feature address by Dr. the Honourable Lincoln Douglas, Minister of the Arts and Multiculturalism

On the occasion of the 18TH Annual Stars of Tomorrow Award Ceremony hosted by the National Youth Action Committee

Wednesday November 14, 2012
Queen’s Hall
6.30PM

 

  • Mr. Aiyegoro Ome, Servant Chairman of the National Action Cultural Committee
  • Ms. Cindy Alleyne, Servant President, National Youth Action Committee
  • Esteemed Awardees
  • Members of the Media
  • Ladies and Gentlemen

Good evening. I feel extremely honoured to be present at this award ceremony this evening.

There is something almost magical about being in the same room and sharing the same space with individuals who have a demonstrable record of success and excellence in their chosen field! Right now, I feel energized and motivated and I trust that you do too!

Permit me to begin by thanking the organizers of this auspicious event for extending the invitation to me to deliver the feature address. I was rather intrigued by the calibre of persons who have shared their thoughts and ideas with you over the years. So I am quite humbled to have been asked to do the honours this year.

I also observed the cadre of award recipients over the years; young people who have excelled in various spheres, such as the arts, academics, community service, science and technology and sport. And as Minister of the Arts and Multiculturalism, I wish to commend the NYAC for their unswerving efforts over the past eighteen years. You have used this forum as a catalyst for motivating other young people to reach for higher levels of achievement in their pursuits. It is the kind of work that resonates deeply with the people and as such, can be classified as very important.

Ladies and gentlemen, this has been a year of triumph and celebration as our nation marked its fiftieth anniversary of Independence last August. During that same month so many of our young athletes made us justifiably proud as citizens with their outstanding performances at both the individual and team levels at the London Olympics.

To all intents and purposes, we are a naturally gifted and talented people. We know what it takes to get to the top of our game and we go after it with focused energy and enthusiasm! In so doing, we allow our greatness to unfold in full view of our country, the region and the world! That giftedness, to which I refer, ladies and gentlemen, is not possessed by any one group in particular.

On the contrary, genius and capacity cut across all creeds and classes as evidenced by the awardees who have distinguished themselves this evening and over the eighteen years or so since the inception of this ceremony.

As the arm of the State charged with the responsibility of managing cultural diversity, the Ministry of the Arts and Multiculturalism is taking the lead on all matters concerning the arts and culture. Added to that, with our economy already in a state of transformation, we are committed to ensuring that our cultural practitioners and all of our citizens in general, enjoy an enhanced quality of life and living.

At the end of October, we placed the draft national Multiculturalism policy and the draft national cultural policy squarely in the public domain. We were very encouraged by the quality of responses culled from a broad cross-section of arts, cultural and other civil society groups. We are now at the stage where implementation is almost imminent.

Noticeable among the participants at the consultation were the youth voices, adding their perspectives and ideas and clamouring for the much needed change and transformation that must, by necessity, take place. At the ministry of the Arts and Multiculturalism, we believe in gaining consensus on the key matters that impact upon our daily lives here in Trinidad and Tobago. It is important, therefore, to get your views and opinions.

With your invaluable input, future prospects are very promising. We are aiming towards diversifying our economy by expanding and developing the infrastructure that will foster thriving creative and cultural industries.

An estimated sixty nine million dollars has been identified for investment in the creative and cultural economy over the period 2013 to 2015.

The arts, fashion, music, entertainment and film all represent critical public policy initiatives designed to trigger the creation of new jobs and national wealth. This investment, therefore, augurs well for our artists and artisans as we continue to create sustainable livelihoods within the arts and culture.

I would like to give you the assurance once again that we believe in the intrinsic value of stakeholder engagement and consensus. Among other things it fosters participation and inclusiveness – critical to the process of achieving equity in the programmes and projects which the Ministry spearheads.

I would like to urge all of you, young “Stars of Tomorrow” to work steadfastly towards achieving your goals in your respective fields. As Minister of the Arts and Multiculturalism my interest goes beyond just those who have chosen to excel in the Arts, to embrace all of you as youth contributors to the growth and development of our beloved country.

We need to harness all of your energies, your spirit of boldness and creativity, of persistence and resilience as we chart a way forward in our specific developmental area.

Over the past week or so I have been reflecting on the underlying message of Divali – the national holiday and religious festival we celebrated as a nation only yesterday.

As we continue to celebrate the triumph of good over evil, the lessons learned through the festival centre on a genuine attempt to break free of any form of darkness in our lives, and walk and prosper in the light.

Clearly, as young citizens of Trinidad and Tobago you have indeed opted to walk and prosper in the light. Continue to reach and stretch for greatness, continue to inspire others especially other young people like yourself and know that you have my unstinting support in all of your endeavours.

Congratulations on your esteemed awards and may you continue in the path of true light.

Thank you.