Address by Dr. the Honourable Nyan Gadsby-Dolly, Minister of Community Development, Culture and the Arts at the Cheque Presentation Ceremony: Divali, Hosay and Ramleela 2015 at Queen’s Hall on Tuesday November 3, 2015
I would like to begin by acknowledging the very generous, voluntary work you have all put into the preparation and implementation of your various activities. Given the current local, and indeed the global financial realities, volunteerism becomes an even more critical commodity for national development.
Many hours of dedicated work are required to prepare the costumes for a Ramleeela presentation, to construct the Moon that is danced for Hosay or to produce the Divali Nagaar. This is the kind of demonstrated commitment to culture and country that is required to create the Trinidad and Tobago that we all envision.
The groups before us, today, do not only embody nationhood, but also represent the natural way which community, culture and art and intertwine.
The word ‘community’ comes to the forefront as we look around at the number of Ramleela groups receiving their cheques of support today. We have groups such as the Rio Claro Ramleela Committee in South East Trinidad, the Sangre Grande Ramleela Committee in North East Trinidad, the Tarouba Krishna Leela Committee in South Trinidad and the First Felicity Ramleela and Cultural Group in Central Trinidad. All of these committees are groups of concerned people that are making a difference in their community.
The St James/Cocorite and the Cedros communities are two groups that have kept the observance of Hosay alive. While this procession is grounded in Islam, and is therefore religious in nature, the creativity displayed in the impressive glistening tadjahsis nothing short of true artistry.
The Ministry of Community Development, Culture and the Arts has embraced its role as the guardian of the soul of Trinidad and Tobago and remains committed to projects that reinforce our national identity and promote our cultural products.
In turn, it is expected that all recipient organizations will commit to managing these funds efficiently and ensure the proper documentation of relevant transactions. Accountability is critical!
In order to guarantee the optimum allocation of the reduced funds available to the Ministry for Grant funding, we will be operating with a higher level of oversight as it relates to the financial support offered to individuals and organisations.
While this may result in changes to the amounts previously received by long-standing entities, we do believe that stakeholders and the public at large will appreciate the additional emphasis placed on the proper use of public funds.
This can only derive benefits for the sector and we look forward to working with all cultural practitioners as they move towards greater self-sufficiency, which is the foundation of a robust national cultural enterprise.
One of the first steps that will be taken by the Ministry to better streamline the grant process is the establishment of firm deadlines for the receipt of applications.
In this regard, you are asked to note that applications for funding events for the upcoming Christmas season must be delivered to the Ministry by Monday 16th November, 2015.
Requests for financial support for events for Carnival 2016 must be delivered to the Ministry by Monday 4th January, 2016.
These deadlines will be strictly adhered to and applications must be received in hard copy form and signed.
As event producers, you will agree that forward planning helps your message reach the widest audience and creates the biggest impression with the most efficient use of resources.
Ladies and gentlemen, community initiatives, art and culture are serious matters. These three factors have the power to significantly impact the direction of this nation. As we dedicate our time and expertise to guarding our traditions for future generations, we perpetuate the values that have made us diverse, harmonious and innovative people.
Again, we thank you for your volunteerism and commit to working with you to uplift our communities, the creative sector and our country as a whole.