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Faculty of Culture - Creativity to the Fore

Faculty of Culture - Creativity to the Fore

A new era is being ushered in at Cave Hill Campus from this year when a Faculty of Culture, Creative and Performing Arts is launched on 1 August, a date which commemorates Emancipation Day in the region.

The move raises the curtain for Caribbean indigenous art forms to be spotlighted in an unprecedented manner on the highest academic stage, and is being heralded by veteran cultural activists, including long-time advocates for the creative arts sector, to receive more formal recognition.

“I think it’s an excellent idea though a bit long in coming,” said Dr. Cynthia Wilson, an acclaimed Caribbean cultural arts practitioner, whose work in the industry spans over five decades.

The icon is the recipient of Barbados’s second highest national recognition, the Companion of Honour, and has had an arts lecture theatre in the Faculty of Humanities and Education at Cave Hill renamed in her honour.

Stalwart entertainer and cultural icon the Most Honourable Anthony Nicholas ‘Mighty Gabby’ Carter described the development as forward-thinking: “I want to congratulate whoever decided to take this initiative because it’s like the embryo of great things to come, not just for Barbados but the entire Eastern Caribbean and even further afield, because people would also come to learn about Caribbean culture.”

 

The Mighty Gabby is one of Barbados’s cultural ambassadors and was one of two persons to recently receive the country’s first indigenous and highest national honour, the Order of Freedom of Barbados. He also holds an honorary doctorate from The UWI.

Renowned author and academic Professor George Lamming has welcomed the move while suggesting that teaching of arts be inculcated in primary schools and honed further at the secondary stage. He also suggested the creation of synergies between the Barbados Community College and The UWI, Cave Hill to harness the talent of creatives and enable the new faculty to achieve major impact.

Acclaimed poet and Lecturer in the Faculty of Humanities and Education at the campus Dr. Margaret Gill also gave full support to the new faculty once it “promotes the survivability of artists and the art we produce”.

It was on 31 October 2019 that the highest decision-making body of The UWI, the institution’s Senate, approved the establishment of the new faculty that will offer multidisciplinary and cross-faculty teachings, becoming the seventh faculty at Cave Hill and the ninth within The UWI system.

It will be driven by a focus on deepening critical studies of Caribbean culture and identity as well as global economic imperatives that centre the creative industry within the academy.

The aim is to empower graduates to generate personal and national wealth, local intellectual property rights, new employment opportunities, jobs and businesses regionally. It also opens a new conversation regarding the Caribbean as an owner and rights holder rather than a participant in the global creative economy that today accounts for USD$2.225 billion or three percent of the world’s gross domestic product.

Observing that a majority of artists in the Caribbean were operating seasonally rather than year-round, Vice-Chancellor of The UWI, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles said: “Far too few are on the international stage producing outputs and generating revenues from global production, marketing, and distribution from a home-based commercial enterprise that is generating employment opportunities, building new sectors and earning foreign exchange for the domestic economy.”

Pro Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the Cave Hill Campus, the Most Honourable Professor V. Eudine Barriteau said the faculty’s establishment is an acknowledgement by The UWI that the Orange Economy represents the business of the region’s immediate future, including the creative industries such as film, animation, the gaming industry, theatre, dance, painting, sculpture, performance, the music industry and video production.

“The faculty endorses The UWI’s commitment to develop these sectors for intellectual, economic and aesthetic purposes and assures that there will

be an emphasis on both greater research into Caribbean culture and the business of the creative industries.”

Artists also see benefits of recognition and respect being accorded to industry practitioners.

“When you say you’re doing anything in the arts, some people often respond, ‘Why don’t you get a job?’ So it would legitimise not only people’s work but the people themselves,” Principal Barriteau said, adding that culture is civilisation, and there must be recognition that it defines us as a people.

Dr. Gill thinks the faculty will further institutionalise culture rather than legitimise practitioners, thereby creating a space for artists and their work to blossom: “I hope that this institutionalisation will give focus. It will give more Barbadians an opportunity to take the microphone and help to grow local self-confidence because there is a tremendous attack on the confidence of people who produce at very high levels in this country.”

She pointed out that the Economic Partnership Agreement, which was signed in 2008 between the European Union and the Caribbean Forum (CARIFORUM), has had little success relative to exporting culture on a significant scale. Nonetheless, she noted that advancements have been made at the national level.

“We have a high number of individuals at the policy level who promote culture, yet the artists still feel left behind. I want to praise what is happening at the Barbados Community College where their music programme is receiving considerable acclaim. If we can have a Faculty of Culture that can do something similar for the arts, not to compete with the community college but strengthen the programme offered to artists, then I look forward to seeing what the Faculty of Culture can do.”

The Mighty Gabby recalled a culture of disrespect meted out to those in the industry who continue to fight for legitimacy of the work therein: “We are steeped in colonialism and neocolonialism. We were led to think that if you didn’t excel in academia, with mathematics and science and things like those, you were secondary, which is far from the truth. If there is one

Caribbean country where that perception is disproven, it is Cuba. The Cubans have equated culture with everything else they have.

“As this develops, it’s going to help the economies because research has shown that the Caribbean has to thrive on culture. So it’s just that we are about to take baby steps that would lead to giant steps where culture is concerned. I want to congratulate Professor Eudine Barriteau on this initiative. She has achieved a lot in a very short time. There are people who will be reluctant, as has been the case in the past, to put financial backing behind the idea, but there are others who are thinking differently and understand the importance of culture to a country. I see this as being the impetus that would help the economy, alongside tourism and other industries. It’s time to diversify and take culture seriously.”



 

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