Letters & Opinion

Let’s show our artistes we also care for them off-stage!

Image of Carlton Ishmael
By Carlton Ishmael

We are often reminded that ‘It is not what the Country can do for you but what you can do for it.’ That I agree with to a certain extent. But there are those who put their soul, their heart, even their lives in assisting, helping, teaching, guiding and supporting the cause, but when they hang their boots up, or the lights go out after the performance is over, nobody seem to care — or even remember them.

I speak here about Anthony Jn Batiste, alias ‘Cocky’, who is now going through difficult times and in desperate need of the type of support that will help him through this moment of desperation.

Let me say up front that Cocky did not ask me to do this, but I am doing it out of my heart as a true and close friend of my buddy. So here we go…

Cocky is hospitalized — and ‘not doing great’ as we would say…

Not as per usual, but for good reason, I single him out today because, if you know anything about Dance in St Lucia, no other person has shown more people how to dance like my good friend Cocky — especially children.

A dynamic performer for many decades with the ability to woo audiences, but at the moment he needs all our mercies as circumstances are not on his side.

For the last year or so, the performance stages have been empty, no audiences, no applause, no work for artistic people — and the thought some people have that being a dancer is a lucrative profession laden with success that brings lots of cash and rewards is far from the truth.

I can tell you from the horse’s mouth, this is a labour of love, a calling with almost no tangible rewards, only pleasant memories.

As for the department of Culture and Entertainment, nothing has been put in place in this regard.

Because Dance is a hand-to-mouth profession here, savings and building an asset base is not always possible – and there are also other areas of talent that suffer the same fate: just check our retired sportsmen and women– no NIS or other schemes that take care of their needs after they have gone off the scene.

I beg that the government, the Cultural Department, the Hospitality section and those who have profited from entertaining, and the important role which artistes played in building a nation culturally to come to Cocky’s rescue, as you cannot continue to ignore their input or their relevance.

We must stop paying lip service to culture because we the artistes need help during and after our performances. The love we share and give to so many people also needs to be appreciated, cherished and treasured.

Give with love to Cocky and give because he needs the assistance at this point in time. A group of past and present dancers doing as they can with the little that they have, trying to find out what channels can be used to offer assistance — and believe me the cost of health care and aftercare (care after you leave the hospital) can be quite challenging, so I plead to and beg of you not to ignore this son of the soil who has turned so many of Helen’s children (boys and girls) into artistes, positively changing their lives.

I too have my issues. I too have my needs. I know that most have forgotten my own contributions in the past, but it’s not about me, it’s about a true friend, a loyal and loving performer and tutor.

I pray that he comes through and remember it is while we are alive that we can appreciate your love, not when we have passed. We must start to care seriously for our national sons and daughters who blaze the trail, bringing our country’s name to all corners of the globe.

We artistes must hold our flag high, but there comes a time, off the stage, when we must also be shown that we are appreciated. And so we must be cared for when called upon to do so.

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