THE Barbados Government remains committed to the development of the literary arts in this country.
That’s according to Prime Minister the Right Honourable Freundel Stuart, who, speaking yesterday at the launch ceremony of the BIM Literary Festival and Book Fair held at Ilaro Court, maintained that the role of literature in the cultural life of a country must not be underestimated. He made the point as he noted that locally and in other CARICOM countries, focus has been placed on the cultural industries as an area that is ripe for development, and an important aspect of that area is literature, which has potential that cannot be ignored.
“It is my settled conviction that decision-makers in Barbados and the wider Caribbean would be selling this region short if we were to ignore the crucial importance of literature and the arts to the total liberation of our people,” he said.
He added, “Any objective analysis of our cultural and social history will reveal that it is the written and spoken word in its multiple forms that has imparted character and distinctiveness to our footprint on the global cultural landscape.”
With that in mind, Prime Minister Stuart lauded the contributions of those he said who have “taken up the mantle and are set on preserving our literary legacy”. Among those of note, he stated, are Esther Phillips, the founder of the BIM Literary Festival; and Canada-based, Barbadian-born author, Cecil Foster.
PM Stuart made the point as he noted the work of the National Cultural Foundation (NCF), which provides opportunities for up-and-coming writers to perfect their art. According to him, the NCF’s Writers’ Clinic attracted 74 persons last year; another 25 were able to use the platform presented by the Crop Over Read-In to showcase their work and the National Independence Festival of Creative Arts is another avenue through which the work of writers can not only be evaluated, but rewarded.
Meanwhile, he also pledged to work at the regional level to ensure that the rich literary tradition of the Caribbean does not die and that the region’s “spellbinding story is told to the world”.
His comments came as he noted that our writers have “enriched the narrative of our struggle and articulated, with feeling, our challenges and our triumphs against sometimes daunting odds”.
Moreover, the Prime Minister said that those who continue through their writing to carry the mantle of hope, highlight areas of concern, and our achievements, also remind us that there is still a long way to go if as a people we are to convert constitutional independence from just a change of flag to a change of attitude. (JRT)