Category Archives: art and culture make good business

Another Reason Why We Need our Artists

Bahamas Suffers While Jamaica Rocks

Posted by sally 1 day 23 hours ago (
Category: travel

Jamaican Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett has announced a 3.4 per cent increase in visitor arrivals for the month of January, compared with the same period last year.

Bartlett said the 138,000 tourists who visited the island last month were the largest number of visitors to vacation in Jamaica in the month of January… in any year.

The minister was addressing journalists during a press conference at the Ministry of Tourism on Knutsford Boulevard in New Kingston on Wednesday.

Bartlett credited the growth to the staging of the annual JAMAICA Jazz and Blues Festival held last month, as well as the intense advertising, marketing and promotion campaign that the ministry had embarked on in recent months, especially for the start of the winter tourist season.

Bahamas News Center, my emphasis

This is no surprise at all. All studies about the creative industries, festivals, cultural activity and tourist development indicate that a failsure way of driving tourists to a destination is by creating a purpose for them to visit. Angela Cleare calls it the “pull” factor in tourism — giving people a reason to visit. The Bahamas has for decades relied on “push” factors — the need/desire for North Americans to escape the cold. Our tax money has not been used to develop any real reason for tourists to come here. Instead we have been lazy, relying on foreign investors, on natural beauty, and on geographical closeness to profit by default.

The above news story shows the result. But a word of caution to those government officials who think that they can develop such festivals without the participation and buy-in of the cultural community: you can’t. The Atlantis model isn’t sustainable. Our greatest strengths, and our greatest draws, are those things that can’t be found anywhere else. Without the people who know this stuff, who can tell it from the ersatz and the fake, all attempts to duplicate the above success will fail.

See, people? I’m not making this stuff up. Studies show that culture is a major driver of the 21st century economy. And we have not invested in it at all.

Further links of interest may be found below for those who are willing to do the research. The numbers say it all.

Let’s work together to turn our economy around in The Bahamas — the twenty-first century way. No more development by plantation, thanks very much; let’s take the wheel and drive our leaders where we want to go.

Day of Absence Demonstration at COB

Today, as planned, was a day to remember and honour our artists. Today we asked people to imagine a world without artists, a world without art, and to do something — anything — in honour of artists. It could be as simple as wearing white, or calling in to a talk show, or writing a poem, or buying a piece of art, or it could be as radical as, well, gathering in a public place and putting tape over your mouths and lying down.

The art students and other supporters chose the latter at the College/University of The Bahamas.

Here are some pictures from today. More on the Ringplay Blog, and on FaceBook.

Photos courtesy of Rachel Whitehouse.



Day of Absence Solidarity

Letter from Avvy:


Wendell Mortimer  
Avion’s Ent. ®    
Matthew Town,  
Inagua, the Bahamas

February 08th, 2009

To Whom It May Concern:

      Absence of art ….. A concept very difficult to play out in the mind; A Bahamas without “Goin down Burma Road”… A Bahamas without “Bookey and Barabbi…” That I can’t imagine. For too long this movement has been a thorn in the sides of Bahamian artist, and for too long we over analyze, asking ourselves

  • Why am I not where I want to be?
  • Did I make the right career decision?
  • Am I the only artist experiencing these up-hill battles?

   Well now is the time for us to answers these questions publicly as one… (Unified). Please note that this movement is not a cry to the public for a handout, or a plea to the government to welfare our dreams, but only to make it known to our citizens that there are some people in our country who we like to label ” The Powers To Be” whom do not value our contribution to our culture. Also there are many among us who are not open to change who wear the tattoo “set in there ways.” These two groups described, overtime have helped keep artist down by ways of divisiveness and poor attitudes.

   I think that this long-standing mentality has played itself out and must come to an end, and I feel that this is the time for action. My name is Avvy (Bahamian songwriter and performer) and I support this movement.


W. Mortimer (Avvy)

Hear, hear.

More support below the fold. Continue reading Day of Absence Solidarity

Day of Absence: 11th February

In 1965, an African-American playwright by the name of Douglas Turner Ward wrote a play he called Day of Absence, which told the story of a small town — any small town — in the Deep South in which the white inhabitants discover on a particular day that all the black people have disappeared.

When this fact becomes general knowledge, the establishment comes to the brink of chaos. Without its black labor force, the town is paralyzed because of its dependence on this sector of the community.

Part of the reason I agreed to take the job of Director of Cultural Affairs, and much of the reason I left, was that, in many ways like African-Americans in the 1960s USA (and black Bahamians, and people of African heritage the world over), cultural workers in The Bahamas — artists, musicians, writers, actors, directors, dancers, designers, craftworkers, you name it — are marginalized, disrespected, and taken for granted in our nation.

Thirty-six years after independence and forty-one years after majority rule, creative workers in our country are unable to find work in the areas in which God has gifted them. There are virtually no avenues in The Bahamas to enable creative people to develop and hone their talents, or to enable them to make use of them when they are developed. Our greatest brain drain is arguably in the area of the arts; like Sidney Poitier over sixty years ago, Bahamians who want to exercise their talents in the cultural industries are faced with the choice of pursuing their callings as hobbies at home, or of leaving home to make a living by their gifts elsewhere. And we are all the poorer for it. 

That we appear to be unaware of the absurdity of this state of affairs in a nation which welcomes several millions of tourists to our shores annually is indicative, to my mind, of our abject conviction as a people that Bahamians, and particularly Bahamians of colour, are congenitally unable to produce, behave, or perform at any level that could possibly be considered world-class, and that it is a waste of time, money and effort to believe anything else.

Continue reading Day of Absence: 11th February