ARTISTS are their own worst enemies. There is a lot of hurt, pilferage, injury, distrust, insecurities, animosity, class, status and greed in the community (probably a wrong use of concept here; there is no community among artists, just a few cliques, but no community).
So when a meeting of all artists was called regarding the relocating of the National Cultural Centre, I thought that the gathering would be bursting at its seams because my philosophy is that there is an artist in everybody.
But that many people did not show up is no surprise. Artists are not supportive of each other and there is a lot of fight-down among us. Artists steal other artist’s ideas and pass it on as theirs. They undercut and undermine each other and create territorial demarcations.
That government has never had this sector as a priority is not news to the “community”. They played politics with it in the 2011 elections. The grandeur, magnitude and economic and transformative potential of the industry are yet to be appreciated. There is no minister of government with a passion for the arts, and if there is, I certainly do not see him/her.
The other thing is that our “artists” are playing politics themselves; those whose upward mobility depends on which side of the political divide they fall in and which politicians they are friends with to give them a “bly”.
One of the priority areas for government has been sports. A lot of money has been invested in this area; two stadia, mini stadiums, upgrades in cricket and football grounds. But what do our sportsmen have to show for it? With a Prime Minister who wants to shut down anything that is not bringing returns of investment, and who is pushing tourism like there is no tomorrow and nothing else to live for, I am supposing we may get some attention, with this year’s budget giving no such indication.
The closest that we have come to community is with assisting Francis “Leebo” De Lima financially for his medical treatment. Some people are even asking what Derek Walcott has done for Saint Lucia, a question which has brought out vehemence from certain people. A number of us wonder why there has not been national outrage on the stoppage of the Walcott House project or the closure of the museum in Grass Street. I will put it to us that unlike Francis De Lima, Saint Lucians did not know who Derek Walcott was. And we still do not know.
I have come to the realization that the development of the arts are in the hands of artists and it must be if we want to bring about the needed renaissance down here. Right now, we are pushing nothing.
Several years ago, a group of four artists discussed the formation of an umbrella group called Artistes for the Arts (AFTA). A logo was presented and articles and objectives were being formulated. Unbeknownst to one other group member and me, the name was registered. I say this to reestablish my initial point that artists are their own worst enemy.
Oh, for cohesion that we may progress! It does not matter who does. It only matters that it is done and it is done well. So I stand with the minister in all of this, that there needs to be a collective group that government can talk to.