CATALYST: Harmonizing Actions in the Caribbean Creative Ecology


In “Catalyst: Harmonizing actions and trust building in the Caribbean creative ecology,” Holly Bynoe (The Nassau Guardian) writes about a three-day Ideas Lab workshop held at the University of the West Indies-St. Augustine to discuss cultural, scientific and social dimensions of cooperation between the European Union (EU) and the Caribbean. In the discussions, the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas was noted as the flagship cultural institution in the Caribbean. Read excerpts below, and the full article at The Nassau Guardian.

On Wednesday, June 13, through Friday, June 15, over 40 key stakeholders from 10 countries across the Caribbean region and the UK convened at the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine campus in Trinidad to speak about the advancement, challenges and problematics of our regional creative ecologies. The British Council in partnership with the University of the West Indies held this three-day Ideas Lab workshop with the aims to harmonize cultural activity in the region, by highlighting the cultural, scientific and social dimensions of cooperation between the European Union (EU) and the Caribbean.

Bringing key policymakers, speakers, creative practitioners, festival organizers, academics, representatives from donor agencies, independent consultants and others speakers, “CATALYST: Harmonising Actions in the Caribbean Creative Ecology” identified the need to enhance the shared vision between the EU and the Caribbean through sharing research, activities and learning from best-practices.

With the Orange Economy shifting the global relevance of culture and art, and with The Bahamas positioning itself to be a pilot and the leader in the region for culture and the creative economy, the acknowledgement of robust and catalyzing initiatives on the ground are essential as an anchor and a hinge from which we must continuously pivot to ascertain our needs and their relevance to our spaces.

The leading project spearheading the way in The Bahamas is Creative Nassau, which was formed in 2008 by the late Jackson Burnside along with a group of passionate Bahamians who wished to showcase our unique culture to the world, whilst actively developing a Creative Tourism model to ensure that by the year 2020 more persons will travel to The Bahamas to experience its art, culture and heritage rather than just its sun, sand and sea.

We are two years away from this landmark moment, and we acknowledge the work that pushes us forward to get us to that mark. We also are made aware that cohering the actions to cohere is a hard word and doing it alone in a silo or vacuum might impede progress or damage how we get there. For the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas to be invited to take a seat at the table that CATALYST so graciously invited us to was a provocative moment in the context of having been privy to having a seat at other kinds of tables; tables that consider the colonial structure of funding but don’t pressure or agitate bodies to think about how this keeps us within an exploitative structure, binding us to repeating systems and the monstrous challenge of being engaged in conversations and or projects that do not occur naturally and organically.

[. . .] This difference was certainly established by the core leadership of CATALYST — which included Dr. Suzanne Burke, lecturer in Cultural Studies at the UWI, St. Augustine Campus and Annalee Davis, former Caribbean arts manager for the British Council — driving the outward direction and container of CATALYST. Given the intersections between academia and on-the-ground advocacy sensibilities that Davis has worked with for the last 20 years, this meeting of minds and spirits helped to shape an alternative and more productive space where issues of our postcolonial spaces were dissected and analysed, which was a sensible mechanism to facilitate a purposeful reading of the cultural Caribbean space. [. . .]

For full article, see The Nassau Guardian.

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