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Address by Dr. the Honourable Nyan Gadsby-Dolly, Minister of Community Development, Culture and the Arts at the 28th Annual “Top 20” Stars of Gold and Calypso of the Year Award Ceremony at the Central Bank Auditorium on Friday November 13, 2015

 

Good evening, Calypso is an integral component of our identity and history. Indeed, it is a foundational part of our local musical traditions and industry as well as an iconic element of Caribbean music.

It is, therefore, my honour to be present at this award ceremony which recognizes excellence in an art form which was birthed right here but has reverberated through the entire region.

It is also a very special evening for those of you who will receive awards. To you I offer you my warmest congratulations and that of the Ministry of Community Development, Culture and the Arts. Trinidad and Tobago has a long heritage of gifting the world with insightful, rhythmic music and today I am reassured that we will continue to produce and export quality, artistic expressions in the form of calypso.

Your efforts, and the contributions of the participants of the local music industry, will ensure that the legacies of calypso greats, such as Calypso Rose, Lord Kitchener, Merchant, Winsford Devine, Lord Pretender and other champions of calypso, remain a vibrant part of our creative landscape and ensure the continuation of this great art form.

Ladies and gentlemen, although calypso has developed into different sub-genres, its ability to change, influence and share experiences has been consistent.

Arts and culture, in general, 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. They allow us to identify ourselves with one group or another and create a positive sense of belonging that can compete successfully against the gang culture and other delinquent pursuits.

Art and culture also compel us to question the parameters that society has instituted, forcing us to think from a new perspective and form more progressive paradigms for the future. The creative mind sees beyond the restrictions and imagines what is possible. As we seek to diversify the economy and build a society of innovators, where ingenuity spawns entrepreneurship, the influence of the exposure to our indigenous art forms, such as calypso, should not be underestimated.

Therefore, we must impress upon the younger generation the understanding that heritage does not only belong to our memories of times past, but is also part of their current reality…their identity.

But, this thrust to communicate positive traditional values to the youth must happen at the societal level. If the seeds of heritage promotion and preservation are to be planted and nurtured, then it must be a joint effort between the community, government and the private-sector as active partners.

Other non-governmental bodies in Trinidad and Tobago can take a page out of the book of the National Action Cultural Committee for their determined efforts towards the perpetuation of treasured elements of our culture.

The Ministry of Community Development, Culture and the Arts also encourages private-sector organizations and groups to be positive change agents in the promotion of our culture locally and internationally.

We pledge to support organizations and groups that participate passionately and effectively in the development of calypso and all our art forms. We have been working diligently to institute new initiatives which will better facilitate the work of community, cultural, non-governmental, faith-based and umbrella organizations.

One such initiative is the implementation of deadlines for the receipt of funding applications for seasons of high cultural activity in the national calendar. Hence, funding applications for Christmas 2015 related activities should be submitted by Thursday 19th November, 2015 and funding applications for Carnival 2016 related activities should be submitted to the Ministry by Monday 4th January, 2016. This is all in an attempt to streamline the work of the Ministry so that we may better communicate with and serve you, our stakeholders.

In closing, I wish to commend the National Action Cultural Committee for organising this Award Function and for their commitment to the art form. I also applaud their efforts in training young Calypsonians and composers so that the skills of new masters of the art form are developed.

I also extended my gratitude to the adjudicators and other outstanding professionals who have generously contributed to making this event a standard of excellence in the local music industry.

On behalf of the Ministry of Community Development, Culture and the Arts, I again extend my congratulations to the top 20 calypso composers for 2015. I look forward to your presentations tonight with great anticipation because I know that we, in the audience, are in for a special treat as we get a taste of the cream of the crop in calypso artistry. I thank you.