by Curlan Campbell, NOW Grenada
- Locations can be provided where local artists can exhibit their paintings
- Government can insist that foreign hotels exhibit Grenadian art at their establishments
- A local version of the Caribbean Festival of Creative Arts (CARIFESTA) can be held
Grenada has barely scratched the surface when it comes to harnessing the economic potential of the creative industries, and movers and shakers in the local artist industry believe more can be done to move the industry forward.
Following the plight expressed by local artists Louis Salhab, Doliver Morain Noel and Anthony Douglas, NOW Grenada ventured out to get the views of people involved in the creative industry on what can be done by the artists themselves and by government to improve the industry in Grenada.
Artist and art activist Susan Mains said before any local artists can benefit from their trade, the negative perception of the profession must be changed. “Art has been seen historically in Grenada as something for the idle or for those who didn’t do so well in school. My purpose is to change that attitude so that art becomes a necessary part of our everyday interactions. Now you hear a lot of reference to the orange economy but none of that matters unless it hits us where we are and unless it improves our ability to buy the things that we need.”
Mains suggested that government provide a location where local artists can exhibit their paintings. “The government can provide a place since there are many buildings that are disused and in need of repair that can be used for a national art gallery or art centre. They can employ people with the education to run these places and allow local artists to exhibit their work there and receive training.”
Mains also shared a word of encouragement to local artists to find ways of promoting themselves instead of waiting on government for handouts. “The kind of attitude not just for artists but everyone is to just sit and wait for someone to come and do something for you, but those days are done, no one is coming. So as a local artist you must look for the opportunity to showcase your work or you can organise the show by getting together a couple of your friends and exhibit your work.”
She also added that government can insist that foreign hotels exhibit Grenadian art at their establishments. “Our local hoteliers have done an excellent job of including local art on their walls, but the foreigners don’t seem to care much about whether they are honouring Grenada by having our art in their hotels, therefore, our government needs to stand up for us in that regard.”
The Grenada National Lotteries Authority (NLA) supports the development of culture through its sponsorships and donations. NOW Grenada understands that over the years, the NLA has supported several artist-related events aligned with its mandate.
Retired photographer and art collector Jim Rudin, who has since 1968 owned and operated the Yellow Poui Art Gallery, shared his suggestion on how to improve the local art industry. Rudin believes government can stage its own version of the Caribbean Festival of Creative Arts (CARIFESTA) to help stimulate interest in the art industry. “Grenada can have a kind of CARIFESTA to invite artists from the region to come here, which will stimulate local artists to get more involved and improve on their skills.”
Within the region, Trinidad and Tobago’s Culture Division of the Ministry of Community Development, Culture and the Arts, provides a national registry of artists and cultural workers, which “facilitates the registration of individual artists, cultural workers and cultural organisations. It also facilitates the certification of audio, visual, video productions and festivals.”
According to its site, the ministry provides financial support via grants to both individuals and nongovernmental organisations for projects that it deems important and which are aligned with its goals and objectives as stated in the cultural policy. The site provides a checklist of key information for submitting an application for funding. The ministry’s 2012 Guide to Buying Art shows how corporate sponsors can claim as an allowance for that year of income, between 100%-150% of the actual expenditure based on the acquisition of a work of art that has been certified by an art gallery.
Earlier this year in Jamaica, the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport said it is seeking to establish a national programme aimed at showcasing and marketing final products and services of creative industry practitioners.
The creative sectors are referred to as the Orange Economy, and encompass film, music, theatre, visual arts, fashion, photography, and dance and are understood to have a significant economic impact.
The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) “uses the term “orange economy“to describe the cultural and creative industries, which include activities such as architecture, audiovisual arts, digital services, fashion, graphic and industrial design, handcrafts, music, and software. In 2015, it generated more than $124 billion in revenues and provided jobs to more than 1.9 million people in the region. ”The IDB’s e-book “Orange Economy: Innovations you may not know were from Latin America and the Caribbean” lists “50 outstanding initiatives in the cultural and creative industries from 12 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.”
These sectors are estimated to contribute £91.8bn to the economy of the UK, according to statistics released by the UK government. Economic expert Felipe Buitrago in his book entitled The Orange Economy: Infinite Opportunities stated that “If the creative economy were a product: it would have the 5th greatest volume of business in the world. If it were a country, it would be the 4th economic power with a GDP of $4.3 billion, 2.5 times the planet’s military expenditure, and a total of 144 million workers.”
Figures for Grenada are not currently available.