Presentation of the Trinidad and Tobago Contingent
for CARIFESTA XI
Monday August 5, 2013
National Academy for the Performing Arts (NAPA)
Port of Spain
Dr. the Honourable Lincoln Douglas
Minister of the Arts and Multiculturalism
- Ms. Desdra Bascombe, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of the Arts and Multiculturalism
- Mr. Vel Lewis, Deputy Permanent Secretary, Ministry of the Arts and Multiculturalism
- Mrs. Ingrid Ryan Ruben, Director of Culture, Ministry of the Arts and Multiculturalism
- Representatives of the various organisations that form part of the Trinidad and Tobago contingent for CARIFESTA XI
- Members of the Media
- Ladies and Gentlemen
It is that time when the arts and culture of the Caribbean take centre-stage, bringing rich, vibrant, thought-provoking and exhilarating expressions of talent and skill. People from every part of the region and beyond, will converge in Paramaribo, Suriname for CARIFESTA XI.
This year’s celebration takes on an added significance as CARICOM observes 40 years of the existence of the regional integration movement. It is in unity that we continue to stand together as island states to negotiate our collective future in global economic and diplomatic affairs.
This important role played by CARIFESTA is the underlying motivation for the decision by the Cabinet of Trinidad and Tobago to provide funding in the form of over three million dollars (TTD 3,000,000) to facilitate the participation of a Trinidad and Tobago contingent that truly represents the multifaceted nature of our creative and cultural sectors.
As Minister of the Arts and Multiculturalism and as a citizen of Trinidad and Tobago, I am always amazed by the multiplicity of cultural expressions that have evolved over time in my own country. Our diversity is manifested in our people, festivals, culinary fare, religious practices and in so much more. Yet, we live and work harmoniously in our shared space, unified in the cultural threads that bind us together.
Similarly, within the region, our own unique brands of culture, tradition and heritage distinguish us as individual developing states, even while our striking commonalities draw us together. What emerges is a potpourri of excellence, culminating in a 10-day mega Caribbean Festival of Arts in which we can all take pride as a region.
CARIFESTA XI will be the platform for myriad representations of our story through dance, music, theatre, literature, fashion, film and new media. We are particularly pleased to showcase the Trinidad and Tobago National Steel Symphony Orchestra, performing on an instrument that we invented and which has brought untold recognition to our country – the steelpan.
This year’s contingent also places great emphasis on youth empowerment and innovation which are central to the development of a sustainable and high performing creative sector in the future.
“Culture in Development” has been selected as the theme for CARIFESTA XI, highlighting the central role that culture plays in economic, social and human development. In Trinidad and Tobago we identify greatly with this notion.
From a social perspective, art and culture is featured in the celebration of every important landmark achieved by an individual, a community and a country. Only last year we celebrated our golden anniversary of Independence and the outstanding events which were hosted during that period still resonate deeply with us today. Our artists and artisans used their creativity to recreate the milestones that have shaped us as a society and a nation, and they continue to do so.
Arts and culture help foster both independent thought and the ability to work with others, shaping not just our perception of self but the wider definition of community and culture. It is a distinguishing feature that allows us to identify ourselves with one group or another. At the same time, art can compel us to question the parameters that society has instituted and forces us to think from a new perspective and form more progressive paradigms for the future.
The arts feature prominently in the everyday lives of Caribbean people, not just as entertainment but as a tool for progress and advancement. Many significant artistes from the region have had successful careers internationally and have used their art as a vehicle to communicate the Caribbean perspective to the world.
Derrek Walcott, recipient of the 1992 Nobel Prize in Literature, and the late great Lord Kitchener are prime examples of the impact that the artistes from the Caribbean can have on the global landscape.
The Caribbean Arts Festival is a key showcase for the potential for Caribbean art and the possible economic contribution that can be made by cultural practitioners. According to UNCTAD, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, creative goods exports from the Latin America and Caribbean region grew from US$5.5-billion in 2003 to US$9 billion in 2008. Nevertheless, the Caribbean earned just US$57-million in 2008, with the Dominican Republic being the regional leader, followed by Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago. We must find the key to unlocking the financial return from our creativity - this yet untapped but boundless resource that is present in every corner of the Caribbean.
The networking activities and capacity building workshops that are built into the CARIFESTA programme are opportunities for the exchange of information and ideas for initiatives that can generate improved earnings from creative exports and the overall advancement of the creative sector.
It is therefore critical that we all come together in a monumental show of support for Caribbean arts and culture, rooted in the belief that the whole is always greater that any individual part. Let us continue to flourish and achieve success in all our endeavors all towards the recognition and honour of our region.
Thank You, and God Bless.