Give unto the cultural industry the crumbs of the billions cast on sugar
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Dear Editor

THE question of the sugar industry has taken up more media space, both print and electronic than any other industry in Guyana over the past twenty years, and possibly further back through Headliners, letters, columns and articles. That worldwide, sugar nations like Cuba and recently Hawaii have moved away or diversified into other areas as the evolution of economic forces demand. In Guyana, cane cutters are captive votes to the PPP, and we must conclude that they, the PPP, present no evidence that as a political group they can see beyond the facades they have erected. Last December, Leslie Ramsammy penned a letter in Kaieteur News that added to the volumes of letters on the cause to sustain our sugar industry that has already consumed without credible economic justification tens of billions of dollars. We are all aware that the space was given and squandered for the diversification of sugar, the same mantra is repeated again and again, and sugar represents sugar workers and families. My contention revolves around the others of this society that Freddy Kissoon demonstrated in his article Saturday 3, December 2016, Kaieteur News that, by the actions of PPP authorities ‘For the PPP some Guyanese are lower animals’.
I will demonstrate another sequence of behavioural policy in credit to Freddy’s article. I am an artist /writer; about 24 years ago many creative persons were initiating a new legalised cultural industry. We were using precedents from across the Caribbean and the U.S.A to form ourselves into positions for Banking and contractual engagements. We were breaking new grounds, throwing every available dollar into equipment and trade literature. We were learning the hard way in many areas losing money, but there was optimism, many private sector entities were trading social connections for better creative productions.
It took the change of Government in 1992 to convey to us that the livelihood of some citizens can be viewed with indifference and contempt, if they did not represent political assets. We had all begun to feel individual hiccups that derailed ground covered, the creative arts association of which I was a member had entered a relationship with the Department of Culture through the late Denis Williams. As a result, we would bring the arts to the then vacated Castellani House. We launched it with an exhibition, Omowali a fellow artist, a Guyanese of American roots invited Janet Jagan. That was it, we were detached from the facility, our ideas hijacked, we were not even sent a thank you note for initiating the Idea, the 10th Anniversary of the National art gallery, and we were not even mentioned in its publication.
The whooper came collectively when the PPP Government allowed Pirate TV stations to close down the Cinemas; the Cinemas were institutions that launched many a drama group, housed Vaudeville shows and visiting artistes from Mahalia Jackson to King Floyd. Many families depended on them for livelihoods, but these got no attention, because though Guyanese, they were not voter assets. I compare Cultural Industries because we are the only group in this country that have not merited or received the support of the state, support which is petitioned for by every other institution, even from the super-rich for debt write-offs. Though we are not invisible our work is applauded, but we remain undervalued, and the poorest group of professionals. Our condition is, we too need a shot in the arm, because we exhaust our resources outside of the relationship with the state that our forbearers have had across cultures for a thousand years.
In January 2012, ACDA housed a Symposium on economic issues; I headed the one on Cultural Industries; out of it a draft paper was compiled, given to every political party and to the PPP’s Ministers of Culture and Finance – neither of the two even acknowledged receipt of the document. A more comprehensive document has been delivered recently to a current authority with a much more cordial response.
Regards
Barrington Braithwaite

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