Daly Bread: Our true potential in the creative industries; what gov’ts continue to miss in culture and tourism

In last Monday’s budget statement, there were glaring omissions common to the two brief statements relating to the creative industries and tourism respectively.

The following is the sum total of what was said about the creative industries sector:

“Carifesta XIV, hosted by Trinidad and Tobago, underscored the strides we have made in the expansion of our creative industries. Moreover, with the resourceful Film TT and Music TT we are making efforts to widen and deepen the industry.

Photo: Minister of Finance Colm Imbert, .
(Courtesy Annalisa Caruth/Wired868)

“Trinidad and Tobago is becoming a preferred destination for film production in the region. International and foreign film productions have been taking place. A Locations Data Base has provided a user-friendly online catalogue of stunning and diverse film locations across Trinidad and Tobago, and this is proving to be an enabler to market Trinidad and Tobago as a premier destination for film production.

“Trinidad and Tobago is creating a pool of local artists through the Live Music Districts, which have been held at 58 participating venues throughout Port of Spain and its environs. We have witnessed 537 performances and the Live Music District was featured as part of Carifesta XIV.”

Next, when one looks under the heading Tourism, the first paragraph refers to a reformed ‘structure of arrangements for improving efficiency in the marketing of our tourism product. The Tourism Trinidad Destination Management Company Limited has been marketing Trinidad as a destination for meetings, conferences and exhibitions’.

Both statements betray ignorance of the true extent of the creative sectors. In addition, what has been totally missed is the relationship of our unique culture to tourism and the obvious synergy between the sectors.

The limited statement on the creative industries also contains boasts, the credibility of which will depend on the minister of culture’s contribution to the budget debate.

She will have to do a lot more than rely on the reputed success of Carifesta, which is only held in Trinidad and Tobago occasionally, and which was deeply scarred by the ministerial and bureaucratic one per cent hoarding tickets for so-called VIPs.

Photo: Soca star Destra Garcia performs at Carifesta 2019.
(Courtesy Ministry of Culture)

Likewise, the credibility of the statement on tourism will depend on what the minister of tourism tells the parliament, but he will be chained-up by the grave omissions that I have identified.

The tourism statement continues: “We are upgrading and improving the aesthetics of a number of sites, attractions and beaches throughout Trinidad and Tobago.”

I hope that the tourism minister will acknowledge that Maracas Bay has been turned into a near slum. He may be truthful about this reality because he has been commendably candid about the failure of investments of previous governments in promoting Carnival—more than TT$500m (approximately US$75m) over the last 10 years without a significant return on investment.

Unfortunately, his speechwriter led him into inconsistency when he repeated the cliché, ‘the Greatest Show on Earth’ on the occasion of the recent inaugural flight of Caribbean Airlines to Curacao.

The glaring omissions in the two statements cannot be filled by parliamentary rhetoric. The statements simply do not connect the dots between our creative industries and tourism—not surprisingly, because most politicians neither know what we have in the creative sectors nor come out and take it in on the ground.

Our true potential in the creative industries resides in our rich, extensive and varied musical and performing arts talent, in entertainment and cultural heritage tourism and related festivals and parades—not recognised in the current budget statement.

Photo: A group of tassa drummers showcase their wares. Andre Tanker used tassa drummers to introduce the Bim audience to life in central Trinidad.

This broad and diverse tourism-ready product is not wedded to the two days of Carnival, much of which has been moved away from its heritage moorings. Cultural heritage must include promotion of the glorious Ramleela and lights of Divali and the tassa drumming and dance of the cultures of the Indian sub-continent flourishing here.

Long before the attempts at Live Music Districts, committed cultural leadership, way beyond the narrow boundaries of Film TT and Music TT, has developed and continues to develop talent. However, it has been doing so without the assistance of an integrated cultural and tourism development policy.

Will culture policy going forward be riddled with obsessive political control?

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One comment

  1. Mr. Daly,
    While i respect your right as a Trinidadian Citizen to express your opinion, i’m always amazed at the obnoxious weilding of priviledge by ‘others’ in the society against africans in a surreptitious way. I’m going to keep it ‘real’ as they say without the disrespect..Martin Daly ,is as far as i know, a white passing man with an Indian wife…He has never experienced the racist abuse & scorn heaped on African Trinidadians by his wife’s community &”Hindus” particularly! This reality, though never allowed to be articulated or expressed in the media, has characterized the relationship between Africans(blacker they are) & Indians. Indians as a group never promoted their religion & culture to African people outside of commerce! The Calypsonian Ras Shorty I, was scorned and abused by “Hindu” Leaders and the indian communiy for “polluting” Their racially exclusive culture when he tried to pay respect to it with his music…he was TOO BLACK (LIKE RAVAN)!! rememer when then minister warner was called ‘Ravan’ by a “Hindu” member of the protesting group “Re-Route Movement ” why did Anand publicly admit that “Ravan” was a racist Insult to jack warner???… Because jack warner’s phenotype is what “Hindus” imagine Ravan looked like!Why should African People celebrate their villaization & mockery under the guise of religionb & culture? When Mr. Daly praises “The Glorious ramleela and lights of divali” is he aware that in “Hinduism” and India, it is known that Ram & Ravan are of different “races” and ravan is depicted as evil and black?? Does Mr Daly Know that even today the Black Indigenous people of India (untouchables) routinely protest Ramleela as a racist celebration that characterizes and twists actual historical events? They (“untouchables”), see Ramleela as celebrating racial injustice, racial oppression and violence against blackness. Has Mr Daly ever wondered why ravan’s character has to be dressed in ALL BLACK?? Google the article ‘Reviving Ravanlila to counter racist epic’.Also Divali’s “Lightness over Darkness isn’t innocently metaphorical…It alludes to the same concept of ram the white Aryan(North India) Conquering the black (Indigenous) Dravidian king Ravan(south india)…It celebrates the hindu\brahmin-ist theologic that white skin (people) are Good (karma)& Pure and Black skin(People) are evil & impure\bad (karma) By the way…What about Rastafarian promotion? What about Shango promotion?

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