Here’s a link to my coverage of the Independence literary arts awards which the paper headlined: Culture Minister Urged to See to Literary Arts Development. Here’s an excerpt from the actual speech delivered by outgoing chair, Barbara Arrindell:
And finally Mr. Minister, I speak directly to you … everyone else has now faded away and it’s just you and me. Thank you sir for giving me the opportunity to serve as sub-committee chair for the last three years. I took the baton from Brenda Lee Browne knowing that she had run an awesome 4 year race and unsure that I could live up. This evening, I advise you that that I am not available to do this again next year. Mr. Minister, including the Literary Arts component as a part of our cultural showcasing at Independence was brilliant. As a writer yourself, there is no doubt that you have some idea of the value of what you set in motion.
I wish to propose that the next person to be given responsibility for this Literary Arts Competition, be a member of your staff, someone working under the roof or umbrella of culture. Mr. Minister by hosting this activity you have acknowledged that writing is an important part of our culture, so perhaps its time to give more thought to whole thing. The revitalization of pan is / was important so there is someone in the government structure who has responsibility for the sustainability of pan ..; and we have seen that it works … we understand the importance of track and field so we put people in place to manage it … we see that music is important so the tax payers pay to have musicians attached to the department of culture to nurture this skill, this art …but who will tell the stories of all these things in time to come.
If there is no one currently in your ministry / department with a passion for the literary arts there may be someone sitting in another ministry looking for a transfer, who would love the challenge of moving this art form forward … of organizing regular and sustained workshops at all levels for writers in all aspects of writing … someone who can reach into the schools when competitions like these are held and get real meaningful participation from teachers ……. send out the call and see who answers Mr. Minister, bring them under your umbrella and lets give this meaningful art form what it needs to fly. As seen here tonight talent is everywhere, much needs to be harnessed and polished and then wow … imagine where it will grow and where it will go. Somewhere out there, there is another young playwright, Mr. Minister will his plays be confined to the memories of a bygone era or can we give him the tools necessary to take his dreams to a whole new level. Lets not let that young playwright have to settle for just another job, like being ..I dunno …a politician or something … when what he or she really has to offer this country is the long term pride of the written word. Let’s keep dreams alive and let them soar … my hope for us all is that we forward on .. and that we take our fellow Antiguans and Barbudans with us as we forward on.