Sobering Smouldering Thoughts about Creatives, Creative Economies and Caribbean Cultural Environments

Firstly, we artists and creatives expect fair exchange in a timely manner: to be acknowledged, appreciated, compensated and respected. Late, non-receipt or under-payment causes hardship. As a result, many of us creatives struggle, living in poverty or at the mercy of family and friends. More of us are accused of immorality, instability or worse, all while expected to produce at a high level. We are often encouraged to accept little compensation, consideration or recognition. Such dis-respect seeks to disconnect us from our products and services and our sense of worth, rendering us silent and invisible. The irony! Is this how we develop an abundant creative economy?

Secondly, our nation economies are spiralling because our environments are hostile. They are not sustainable for us or our products and services as creatives. Our individual and collective minds and psyche must be decolonized if the biases we experience in ourselves, families, communities, workplaces and nations are to be “discredited and abandoned” (Marley).

Note that Caribbean governments do not intend to retain hostile economic conditions that contribute to the disrespect many artists, other creatives, cultures and traditions face. Still, reasoned arguments for setting limits to investment in creativity, however well-intentioned, continue to confuse and contradict the development of a creative economy. Some of the ways things are done reinforce the conundrum (puzzle) that we experience daily.

Thirdly, a healthy holistic environment needs to be developed before any creative can be made to account for “financial success”. For many of us, creating is like breathing. Following our calling/passion offers gifts that allow communities to reflect, re-visit, and transform. Our work nurtures and nourishes our people, villages and communities. It reflects our identities as people from the Caribbean.

Vivid and powerful painting of Turgo Bastien

Fourthly, to create a healthy creative economy and environment, compassionate counselling on business, community-building and financial support is necessary. Active listening that offers perspective and direction to link us with appropriate partners to help foster a cooperative sustainable effort in its development is a crucial step. But this will take strategic planning and implementation, commitment, dedication, effort and (hopefully not too much more) time.

Lastly, to avoid folly, we creatives need to be consulted with, involved in and supported by the environment for this “evo-revo”lution to work (Stines). Health and holism require that we all stay in constant dialogue where creatives stay at the centre of the conversation with stakeholders and the state. Regardless of location, we are all required to take ownership of our egos, emotions, intelligences and shortfalls. We need to continually commit to being compassionate, inclusive, impartial and transparent to redress the mistrust. All of us need to check and manage our own biases, behaviours, responses and thoughts that keep us from working together. The irony is that if we Caribbean people peer beneath the surface, destabilize what informs these biases, dedicate to remembering and celebrating our ‘authentic selves’, the tools of cooperation and good-governance would emerge. Growth and success will occur automatically and spontaneously, satisfying creatives, investors and stakeholders alike.

Dr. John Hunte PHD Cultural Studies UWI Cave Hill

Culture Clinic is a weekly column crafted by Dr. John Hunte.

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