Today, I appeared on Crusader Radio (Antigua and Barbuda’s) Listen to Women. One of the last questions put to me by host Joan Underwood was suggestions for development of the arts in Antigua and Barbuda. I spoke about putting a foundation in place to assist artists with accessing the opportunities and funding I know is out there; development of the professional infrastructure needed to support the arts (agents, lawyers, managers, arts development officers, publishers etc.); and research and documentation of our (his)stories – example, the stories of our national heroes in picture book form, for the kids. Inevitably, once I left the studio, I thought of all the things I hadn’t said- like the time I and a group of local writers applied for Commonwealth funding to attend the Calabash literary festival and the time I reached out to our local government via various avenues for a similar mission to the Havana’s International Book Fair, receiving no response.
Thankfully I had this handy post to remind me of my publicly expressed thoughts on this topic before. I’m re-posting some of what I wrote below. Also sharing this letter by Barbara Arrindell on resigning the post of coordinator of the independence literary arts competition in which she recommends to the Minister that someone be given year round responsibility for the literary arts under the umbrella of culture to do for lit arts what a similar approach, including bringing on board the technical expertise of practitioners of the art, did for pan (I would add, and have, that I favour a writer-in-residence programme attached to either Culture or the Public Library). I can only assume that Barbara’s open letter, delivered at the last lit arts comp she helmed, was ignored since the comp subsequently went on a hiatus that hasn’t technically been broken notwithstanding last Independence’s lets’ throw some money at it competition – not if our goal is development of the art form.
Thoughts, with the understanding that these are only my thoughts, and EVERYBODY’S got an opinion, here we go (feel free to share your own):
“Among the things I would like to see happen are …
- Something similar to the Opportunities data base on this page and some protocols for assisting members of the creative community access opportunities available especially through agencies with which the country has a partner relationship – the OAS, the UN, the OECS, etc.
- Training opportunities for artistes
- Commissioning of the skills in the wider artistic community to take programmes to the schools and communities on a consistent basis – put our artistes to work, there are skills here that are underutilized
- Assistance with sourcing funding for cultural products/productions – note I’m not saying dip into the Treasury but using their network to help artistes realize the production of more culturally relevant products and programming
- Support for artistes travelling to represent themselves and the country, and assisting them with networking with the Antiguan and Barbudan community in New York, London, or wherever they’re going
- Artiste showcases not just centrally but in communities throughout the island – and maybe taking some of those showcases on the road beyond our island – I’m reminded of when a group of us, Antiguan and Barbudan writers, applied for and received international funding to put in a showing at one of the top regional literary festivals, for us, a learning opportunity and an opportunity for Antigua and Barbuda to have a presence in spaces where we are too often absent
- A national gallery, an artist in residence and writer in residence programme through which ongoing initiatives to boost the arts in the community can be developed
- Someone asked me today after reviewing the Independence programme what about the lit arts comp – I’ve got no answers to that …or for that matter, a book fair (remember the Antigua and Barbuda International Literary Festival? What happened to that?) … anyway since that question came up today, I’ll just rest that here (EDITING TO ADD April 19th 2017 that a new development is the Wadadli Stories Book Fair, not a state project no, but a community volunteer project, because that’s how the arts community makes things, like the Wadadli Pen project, whose Challenge awards will be presented at the Fair, happen)
- Promotion of the arts using all of the platforms at their disposal – from an enewsletter to their mailing list at home and abroad to TV and web programmes, utilizing everything from ABS to youtube to social media to share and support the work of the local arts community and create connections that could result in all kinds of other opportunities opening up such as targeted tours such as the one organized by Fringe St. Lucia featuring Lucian artistes in the UK earlier this year
- A Cultural Policy – placed low on this list but really should be a priority on our national agenda and not just in the interest of the arts but in terms of visioning our future as a country
- As founder and coordinator of Wadadli Pen, support for programmes like mine and others wouldn’t go amiss – short of grant funding which we have yet to access, the programme exists solely on volunteer effort and has gone a-begging each year in order to reward the efforts of and encourage our future writers and artists
…and those are just off the top of my head.”
As with all content on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Oh Gad!, Fish Outta Water, Musical Youth and With Grace). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on Amazon, WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about Wadadli Pen and my books. You can also subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks.