‘Vanilla’, ‘Barry’, Michael ‘J’ make the cut

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–as gov’t announces first 15 recipients of landmark creative industries grant

DIRECTOR of Culture, Tamika Boatswain, on Tuesday announced the first 15 winners of the Guyana Fund for Cultural and Creative Industries (GFCCI).

The Fund, which comes under the aegis of the Ministry of Social Cohesion, Youth and Sports, Department of Culture, was awarded to 15 artisans in the creative arts field, namely: Trevon Monroe; Michael Jordan; Carlene Gill-Kerr; Martin Massiah; Shunette Jonas; Keith Easton; Gavin Mendonca; Barrington Braithwaite; Leon Saul; Lynn Ronnkvist; Leonard Colvin Marks; Ivor Marslow; Mohamed Handi; Errol Chan; and Melissa Roberts.
The announcement was made at a press conference, with Boatswain stating that it is truly a historic moment for the Cultural and Creative Industries in Guyana, since it is the first investment ever made in that sector.

Boatswain pointed out that the creation of the Fund is one way of showing that the government cares about the Cultural and Creative Arts Industries and their development.
“We expect that in the coming years, the government’s investments in the creative industry would grow,” she said.

According to Boatswain, the Department had $20M, which she described as a small sum of money, to satisfy the projects of the grant applicants.

Noting that the Department would have received a total of 28 applications, Boatswain said:
“Seven of those applicants would have requested $10M or more in grants, and we could not give one individual so much of money…So the committee that was put together to look at this took a critical decision in terms of disbursement to allow more people to have a chance to get some money from the grant.”

She, however, said that the seven applicants at reference will be considered at another round of grants distribution, with the aim of getting them “off the ground”.
According to Boatswain, applicants were awarded based on their proposals and the properties of those proposals.

The judging criteria included originality, project existence, and collaboration with stakeholders/partners.

“Participants were given points; they were scored, and the scores were tallied, and it was even audited to ensure that there were no biases in the awarding of the scores,” she noted.

The director indicated that the Department of Culture, in an effort to help develop the cultural and creative sector, has been carrying out numerous activities such as exhibitions, craft markets, and “even international participations where we encourage the participants of the creative industries, in order to help them have visibility in the global market.”

Also at the press conference was Minister of Social Cohesion, Culture Youth and Sports, Dr. George Norton, who stated that the initiative is one that the government of Guyana, through the Department of Culture, will continue in an effort to support and empower persons in the cultural and creative industries, as demonstrated with the awards.

“It is up to us to foster an environment which lends support to the artistic community by providing avenues for capacity building, technical assistance, and assistance to source funding which will inevitably transcend into economic value for our nation,” Dr. Norton said.

He highlighted that the initiative is not limited to the empowerment of artisans, but it also helps to support the ministry’s determination to preserve Guyana’s various cultures.

“As we focus on economic development and industry, in many aspects, the cultural industry can become one of the key vehicle- driving development, as we use our cultural assets for impactful economic growth,” Dr. Norton said.

The Minister is also encouraging other artisans to apply the next time GFCCI calls for proposals.

The grant forms part of the Department of Culture, Youth and Sport’s effort to foster and promote the creative industries, and to provide platforms for the sector’s growth and development.

It was highlighted during the Minister of Social Cohesion, Dr. George Norton’s 2019 Budget presentation that the $20M initiative is intended to not only advance the livelihoods of persons engaged in the cultural and creative industries, but to encourage new cultural products and to facilitate the market of the local industry.