Cultural leaders must not live like paupers, says THA leader

Members  the Tobago Performing Arts Company deliver a prayer through dance at the awards ceremony, Shaw Park Cultural Complex, in Tobago on March 2. - Photo courtesy THA
Members the Tobago Performing Arts Company deliver a prayer through dance at the awards ceremony, Shaw Park Cultural Complex, in Tobago on March 2. - Photo courtesy THA

THA Chief Secretary Farley Augustine says Tobago’s cultural leaders must no longer live like paupers.

He made the statement on Thursday night while delivering the feature address at function to honour Tobago-born arrangers Duvone Stewart, Kersh Ramsey and Ojay Richards at the Shaw Park Cultural Complex.

The men enjoyed immense success during the Carnival season, winning three major Panorama titles.

Stewart arranged bp Renegades winning selection, Stalin’s (Leroy Calliste’s) Feelin’ To Party in the Panorama large conventional band competition. Ramsey and Richards led Katzenjammers Steel Orchestra and Uptown Fascinators, respectively, to victory in the medium and small band competitions.

Augustine said the days when those in the cultural fraternity lived like paupers must come to an end.

“We have to celebrate and ensure that those who live off the artform, who do well in the artform, that they are reasonably remunerated for their talents because this is a God-fearing island where people believe that whatsoever your hands findeth to do, you must do it with all your might. Certainly, people must earn from doing just that and we must not be shy about that,” he told the audience.

Augustine noted that for years, adequate money was not pumped into the creative sector.

He said, “For far too long, Tobagonians have either been ignored or placed on the backburner, and not sufficient resources behind those in the cultural artforms. It is something we struggle with. I hear the raging arguments ever so often about how much is too much to be spent when it comes to the cultural artform.”

Augustine said there is a view that development must focus strictly on “building box drains and giving people an early-morning wuk.”

As such, he believes Tobago’s orange economy remains largely untapped.

Saying the orange economy is a trillion-dollar industry around the world, Augustine added, “We look on at the Rihannas of the world and wonder how a little girl from a little island with very limited natural resources, like Barbados, could produce the wealthiest female entertainer in the world and we applaud the Rihannas of the world.

“We find time to go on Youtube and listen to their music and the we turn around and we say don’t give that industry any more money because somehow it is a waste of money.”

But in the same vein, Augustine observed, “We want to produce greatness and I am saying that in order for Tobago to do well in terms of its economics, Tobago has to invest in more than box drains.”

He said while box drains might alleviate some flooding, investing in the orange economy can bring to Tobago a flood of wealth to many people who would otherwise not do well.

Augustine said he is not satisfied with the state of pan tents in Tobago, some of which have to “beg lodging here, there and everywhere.”

“I am not satisfied when people are inviting me to Trinidad to see all kinds of fancy pan theatres that they have. And when I look around, we have Katzenjammers and the acoustics so bad they have to come outside to practise and they complaining to me that nobody officially give them a lease for the property.”

Augustine said, “If we want greatness from the fraternity, we have to invest in it.”

He said Tobago must become a place where young people feel they can live out their dreams.

“Winning three of the top categories in the steelpan for 2023 Carnival is a testament that one can live in Tobago, grow up in Tobago, pitch marbles in Tobago and find a way to be at the very top of their class and category.”

Speaking directly to Stewart, Ramsey and Richards, he said, “You are an example deserving of the celebration, however small it is, because we have to highlight your achievement so that some young person looking on can tell themselves that I can come from Tobago and conquer the world. You are a living testament of that and we applaud you for that.”

Augustine also challenged the trio to “find a way to win the single-pan (competition) next year. I want four (titles) so I am challenging you all to that.”


"Cultural leaders must not live like paupers, says THA leader"

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