Revisiting The Conversation: Art in Antigua and Barbuda

I struggled with this headline because the purpose of this post is to continue rather than revisit a conversation and maybe not even that but to document somewhere what someone with a loud megaphone added to the conversation, someone I respect and wish good things for but whose message as framed ruffled me some, though on deeper read I do understand what they were saying (I think) even if I still think it is a bit misplaced. Anyway, I just wanted to place it here since I have in the past shared my own thoughts on the powers that be and their supportorlackthereof for the arts, other thoughts, and other thoughts, and the thoughts of others, even as I’ve tried to share resources and opportunities to assist us, artists. My feathers will always be ruffled by anyone implying or seeming to imply that artists in Antigua and Barbuda are sitting waiting for handouts and boosts from government or other powerbrokers, since that’s not my lived experience nor the experience of many artists I know, quite the opposite.

The Please, sir, may I have some more scene from the movie ‘Oliver Twist’.

I do take the point about what needs to be done on the professional side to access external opportunities but I will add the caveat that there needs to be an enabling environment – an acknowledgment of the fact that there is nuance to the needs of an artrepreneur v an entrepreneur v an enterprise v a business (small, medium, big, or mulinational), one size does not fit all, an acknowledgment that there needs to be room for philanthropy, an acknowledgment that capital and cash flow are just different for the artist, and that there may be a role for tech support re things like capitalization and cash flow, from brand building to merchandising to amplifying, all of the things artists are pressed to try to figure out for themselves while keeping a roof over our heads. This framing of artists as coming to government for handouts is untrue and damaging. Message better because even when a point is being made (and there is a point being made), it will be missed. I may be guilty of that too; we all stand to learn. And it’s possible others will have received this differently than I did. In all fairness.

So I’m excerpting below and linking the original article: Calls for better support of the arts on World Art Day. The conversation continues.

‘As the globe celebrates World Art Day today, a local cultural official is reiterating calls for the continuous support of fine arts in Antigua and Barbuda.

Director of Culture, Khan Cordice, speaking exclusively to Observer, encouraged the general public to support local artisans during this difficult time.

“Whether it be music, purchasing CDs or music online, whether it be hiring someone to dance, or maybe even buy a painting. Buy some sort of clothing from our fashion designers, pick up a book from one of our local writers.

“Pick up a handbag, a purse, something from our handicraft makers just to show your appreciation but also to encourage the artists going forward as we continue to build our creative industries here in Antigua and Barbuda,” Cordice said.

He said that the time has come for local artists to begin thinking outside of the box to support themselves.

“There’s a level of entrepreneurship that we need to have. We need to start getting into that mindset so that the dependency is not always on the government. There are many organisations across the globe that offer fellowships, grants, and financing to individuals that are eligible.

“Some of them require you to be an official entrepreneur, a registered business practitioner. Some require you to document what you do and those are things that anywhere you go across the world and you want to be taken seriously, you will have to start doing,” Cordice shared.

Although he believes that local artists need to begin finding avenues to support themselves, Cordice admitted that more can be done by the government.

In that attempt, Cordice mentioned the addition of the new culture magazine ‘Fu Are We’.

“There’s always room for improvement and that is something where support is considered that we are trying to do. We have the second edition of the ‘Fu Are We’ magazine and that is our April-June issue.

“That magazine is in support of the people in this ministry, the people who are behind the scenes doing…”‘

Read the full original article on the Observer Media Group’s website.

As with all content on Wadadli Pen, except otherwise noted, this is written by Wadadli Pen founder and coordinator Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Oh Gad!, Musical Youth, Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure, its Spanish language edition Perdida! Una Aventura en el Mar Caribe, With Grace, and The Jungle Outside; and freelance writer-editor-writing-coach-and-course-and-workshop-facilitator). Find me at Jhohadli. All Rights Reserved.

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