Geoffrey Philp on Caribbean Culture

Well, it's not exactly Geoffrey; he's quoting Oliver Stephenson. But what he says has resonance not only for today, but also for here.

The question is, when will we start to recognize the power and wealth in our cultural arts? Hasn’t history taught us anything? How long are we going to dwell on “a prophet is never appreciated in his own lifetime?” Indeed, our artists are truly the visionaries,, of any society.How much longer are we going to dwell solely on bauxite, tourism, cigars, rum and ganja as our mainstay? There should really be no excuse for any talented West Indian to be wandering the streets of Port-of-Spain, Kingston, Georgetown, Kings Town or Port-au-Prince neglected.An initial incentive must be given to the cultural arts for our artists and would-be artists. Not just a shoddy cultural arts program, not lip-service, but something solid and tangible that one can actually experience in its reality. Scholarship programs should be offered by foreign investors, like the scholarship programs that some bauxite companies offer to those interested in engineering and chemistry. The same should be done for the arts.In Jamaica, it is true that there is a new cultural arts center where people are being trained in dance, music, drama and painting, but then where do these people go with their acquired skills after they have left the institution? Where do the musicians, singers, dancers and playwrights go? They either take the sheet of paper that they have received to try and find your standard 9-to-5 job, or they go abroad.We in the Caribbean treat our cultural arts with such condescension that it is not only heart rending, but pathetic. Our artists in the Caribbean suffer whether we want to accept this or not, it is fact.

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