NDP VIEW: Culture in St. Vincent and the Grenadines

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St. Vincent and the Grenadines has many cultural traditions which the Unity Labour Party (ULP) government has failed to expand and develop into marketable products as attractions for visitors and as income generating activities for our citizens. The New Democratic Party (NDP) will develop all aspects of our culture, and produce a well-organized package that is attractive to our citizens and visitors alike.

 The NDP will take politics out of culture. The best and most innovative Vincentians must be able to participate in the creation of a viable sustainable cultural industry which can aid our development as a people as well as usefully contribute to our country’s economy. We will revive the National Cultural Foundation (NCF) and make it once more the umbrella body and coordinator of all cultural activities nationally. The NCF through its work with community based groups and other cultural entities will be responsible for encouraging the expression of our indigenous culture.

Further, the NDP will build a National Cultural Centre. This centre will be the hub from which our performing and graphic artists will be encouraged to grow and develop. It will incorporate a well designed, equipped and acoustically sound Performing Arts Facility. And it will include a School of Music to accommodate the demands of Music Theory and Practice, Instrumental Training, formal Voice Training, assistance to modern popular music, classical training, the gospel artistes, calypsonians, etc. We will create a National Youth Orchestra from that nucleus. Our graphic artists will be enabled to showcase their talents in the decoration of the public spaces as well as in the creation of sets and backdrops for all types of cultural performances. A National Cultural Centre will also provide spaces to house exhibitions of our artists’ work.

The NDP will also revitalize carnival and market and promote other festivals; support and encourage active participation in our nation’s festivals including Gospel, Jazz/Blues and Carnival. Carnival in particular needs the infusion of new ideas and a revamped marketing strategy. The management of Carnival will be subsumed under the National Cultural Foundation which will function to create an enabling environment for creativity without tight government censorship and control.

We will revive our National Biennial Music Festival, and revitalize and expand poetry, dance and drama festivals to cater for both young people and adults; encourage dance programmes in schools at the primary and secondary Levels, support the efforts of independent teachers of dance and enable our talented dancers to continue to tertiary level and degree level programmes through the provision of scholarships and bursaries and provide support for cultural programmes at a village level which seek to reinforce our values and our indigenous culture.

We will also complete legislation to award National Honours. The NDP had, in the past developed a system of local national honours, and a Bill, providing for the declaration of National Heroes and the style and designation of the appropriate award, had its first reading in Parliament. The NDP will revisit this legislation to ensure the recognition of exemplary contributions made to the development of our society by its citizens. And encourage Ministers responsible Culture, Trade and Tourism to work together with all stakeholders, to ensure that our culture practitioners are able to benefit from the EPA Agreements, Trade and Tourism expositions to ensure the promotion of our country, its culture and its people.

And implement properly accredited visual arts and design programmes in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, The Caribbean Examinations Council and the University of the West Indies, and introduce a visual arts element in the syllabus for trainee teachers. And encourage our artists to expand their skills into technology based fields such as computer animation, computer games and graphic design.

Music

Music is the world’s universal form of communication. It touches every person of every culture on the globe to the tune of $40 billion annually. Given the creative ability inherent to our nation, we can capitalise on this economic prospect. In restructuring our economy, an important part of our nation’s competitive strength will lie in the creation of knowledge-intensive intellectual property based goods and services. The recording industry represents a viable sector that can be capitalised on to our benefit.

This is one of those economic activities that we must strive to do better than the people of any other nation in the Caribbean. In setting up recording production facilities, regional and international markets are vital to the sustainability and success of such an industry. We can develop and provide a world class service that will primarily cater to the burgeoning talent and unique musical identity inherent to the Caribbean region. Why should we lose our talent and the associated economic benefits to international interests? The established and ever increasing international appeal of Caribbean music should redound to the benefit of the Caribbean.

A recording industry  will provide economic benefit to thousands of people, including artists, musicians, arrangers, producers, sound engineers, record promoters and retail sale persons, to name a few. Of added profits are the backwards and forward linkages associated with an industry of this magnitude, such as instrument development, music technology, retail and wholesale markets, music festivals and paraphernalia products such as tee-shirts and posters.

The talent is evident, the market is proven and the technology and expertise are readily available. The NDP intends to develop the competencies to merge these aspects towards deriving economic, social and cultural benefits. A recording industry will create employment and generate much needed foreign exchange.

The NDP welcomes all returning nationals and visitors to Vincy Mas 2019. We hope that you have a safe and enjoyable carnival.  To the visitors, we encourage you to explore our beautiful island, experience our culture and sample the many local appetizing dishes that we have to offer. Happy Carnival Everyone!