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News Article

August 10, 2010
Shades of Creation

By ALESHA CADET

Tribune Features Writer

Wenly and Bea Fowler have always been drawn to the artistic expressions of God, through nature, design, thought and patterns.

But it was not until recently, when they finally gave in to the demands of family and friends to share their talents, that the couple decided to hold their first art exhibition.

On Wednesday August 4- Friday August 6th, Wenly and Bea Fowler hosted an art exhibition under the theme, " Shades of Creation" at The National Centre for the Performing Arts on Shirley Street.

The creative couple had met on a college campus when they were studying education.

Since those early days, most of their artistic expressions were ...

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News Article

August 10, 2010
Letter: Removal of the Cheshire Home Deed of Trust from Registrar General's department

EDITOR, The Tribune.

Firstly, I express sincere gratitude to the family of Rotary Clubs in The Bahamas on behalf of all disable persons who resided in and otherwise benefited from the existence of Cheshire Home, for having undertaken the establishment of that very much needed, disabled-friendly residential facility on Dolphin Drive, in the 1980s. Acknowledgment and gratitude are also extended to Sir Durward Knowles for the leading roll he played in seeing the home come into existence.

Gratitude and appreciation are also extended to members of the general public for having financially supported the various fund raising efforts by the Rotary Clubs, which resulted in the eventual construction o ...

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News Article

August 10, 2010
Government in talks for judo training centre

By ERIKA RAHMING

VLAD Marinescu, personal assistant to Marius Vizer, president of the International Judo Federation (IJF), met with several high ranking Bahamian officials to discuss plans for the future of judo in the Bahamas and the Caribbean region.

Mr Marinescu was in town for the Bahamas Judo Open this past weekend.

Bahamas Judo Federation (BJF) president D'Arcy Rahming and Mr Marinescu met with Minister of Youth and Sports Charles Maynard to discuss the possibility of a regional judo training centre for the Caribbean within the sports complex currently being built here in New Providence.

The minister was enthusiastic and expressed interest in reviewing a more detailed plan.

Mr ...

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News Article

August 13, 2010
Letter: Social policies needed to deal with teenage prostitution

EDITOR, The Tribune.

Teenage prostitution published by The Tribune on July 23 is a report about underage girls exchanging sexual pleasures commercially. The well reported article features primarily Dr Sandra Dean-Patterson, director of the Bahamas Crisis Centre, discussing the matter. Dr Dean-Patterson expresses that the problem of teen prostitution doesn't exist because individuals under the age of 16 cannot give consent to sex; therefore, they are not committing prostitution. She said the girls are being exploited.

On the Tribune's website (www.tribune242.com) some people opined under the article. They aired how much they disagreed with Dr Dean-Patterson's assertion that the kid ...

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News Article

May 26, 2011
Nobel prize laureate, Derek Walcott to speak in St. Martin

Great Bay, St. Martin - Nobel Prize laureate Derek Walcott is the confirmed keynote speaker for the 9th annual St. Martin Book Fair, June 2 - 4, 2011, said book fair coordinator Shujah Reiph.

"Freedom of Expression" is the theme of the three-day fair that opens with Walcott's address at the Chamber of Commerce Building in Spring Concordia, Marigot, June 2, at 8pm.

In 2011, the much-in-demand Walcott won the T.S. Eliot Prize in the UK and
Trinidad's BOCAS literary prize for White Egrets, his new and 14th book of
poems...

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News Article

January 10, 2012
Smooth start to distribution of voter's cards

Parliamentary Commissioner Errol Bethel said yesterday the distribution of voter's cards got off to a smooth start and he assured that the department was on high alert in an effort to prevent foreigners from registering to vote in the upcoming general election.
The distribution of voter's cards is taking place at Kendal G. L. Isaacs Gymnasium.  According to Bethel, nearly 100,000 cards are available for collection at that site.
The 2012 election will be the biggest test of the Parliamentary Registration Department since it received scathing criticisms from Election Court justices, who pointed to egregious failures in the process in the lead-up to the 2007 general election, and due to failures connected to the 2010 by-election in Elizabeth.
Such concerns about the process persist.
Just last week, The Nassau Guardian reported that an illegal immigrant who registered to vote in The Bahamas and fraudulently obtained a passport has been jailed for eight months.
Jamaican Andre Kumar Ebanks, 24, admitted to getting a Bahamian passport and voter's card by using a forged school record letter and a Bahamian birth certificate.
Bethel pointed out yesterday that people cannot register with old voter's cards.
"We have been going through this whole issue of who is a citizen and who is not a citizen and just in case some people slipped through last time, we want to make sure it doesn't happen again," Bethel said.
"Having a birth certificate does not prove citizenship.  We have to also know that your parents are citizens.
"Now if you have a passport we can accept that document because that would have meant that you should have gone through the Passport Office and they would have gone through all of your information in terms of who you are."
Some people who collected their voter's cards yesterday expressed excitement over the approaching election.
George Major, who is registered in Nassau Village, said he's most concerned about immigration and unemployment.
Joyce Conliffe, who lives in Bamboo Town, said if the election was called today, she would be ready.
"I know where my 'X' is going; it hasn't changed then and it isn't changing now. I'm ready to vote for the right party because the right person will get the job done," Conliffe said.
Voter's cards can be picked up at the Kendal G.L. Isaacs National Gymnasium between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. on weekdays, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays.

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News Article
Sprinter Atkins missing in action
June 20, 2011
Sprinter Atkins missing in action

What's happening with Derrick Atkins?
He will forever have an important distinction in the sporting history of The Bahamas.
Atkins established himself as one of the nation's greatest sprinters in 2006 when he annihilated the former national 100 meters (m) mark of 10.18 seconds. Atkins jetted to a 10.08 finish in becoming the new record holder. The next year, he crashed through the 10 seconds barrier, registering a 9.98 clocking for another 'new' national mark.
He would lower that to 9.91 while capturing a silver medal at the International Association of Athletic Federations' (IAAF) World Championships later in 2007. Atkins had arrived in a big way on the international scene. He had beaten the Jamaican world record holder at the time, Asafa Powell, and was second to American Tyson Gay.
He was right there among the top three sprinters in the world. This was of course, before an athlete named Usain Bolt captivated the world like no sprinter ever had before. For Bolt, the legacy continues, while Atkins has not in the last four years, come close to his performance of that historic day for Bahamian sports in Osaka, Japan.
He ran a couple of races in the low 10 seconds area (10.14 and 10.13) while advancing to the quarter-final round in Beijing at the 2008 Olympics but failed to get into the final which became Bolt's ultimate stage. In just a year, Atkins had dropped out of the top three in the world to an non-qualifier for the Olympic final.
His status kept diminishing in 2009 and 2010.
Here we are in 2011 with the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations' (BAAA) National Championships scheduled this weekend in Freeport, and by all appearances he will be a no-show.
BAAA President Mike Sands, when we chatted recently, admitted to not having a lot of information on Atkins other than the understanding that he has been fighting injuries and is not in peak shape.
Atkins, being almost invisible, is cause for another discussion.
He is one of the top beneficiaries from the Government Sports Subvention Program. The highest category is $34,000 given to elite athletes for training purposes. There is the condition that the athlete competes and represents the country. Also, participation in the Nationals is a must, unless there is a good reason accepted by the parent federation, in Atkins' case, the BAAA.
Sands did not have to speak to this particular issue, because it is common knowledge. The BAAA chief expressed no position on the issue or on the subvention status of any other elite within the track and field family.
I know the terrain however and strongly advocate that the taxpayers' money that fund the subvention program is spent prudently, especially in these downward economic times. The Bahamian people should have the full story on Atkins. His situation might be one that is quite reasonable and if so, people will understand.
The view here though, is that there ought to be much more information coming in from Atkins about his MIA status.
(To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at frobertsturrup@gmail.com)

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News Article

January 10, 2012
MDeez's Without You

By LESH

THE ARTIST they call MDeez was quick out the blocks in 2012, dropping a new soulful single called "Without You". Love, regret, and making this right are themes explored in the new single, the fourth from MDeez's album entitled "Two Faced Bastards".

With its usual mix of hip hop and rhythm and blues styles, MDeez said the new song has been a crowd pleaser so far.

"This is the best I have heard thus far. I know the year just started and all but I like this one here," said one fan, who took to Facebook to express his support.

Another fan wrote: "MDeez has done it again, never cease to amaze me. First love is and now this. It always warms my heart to he ...

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News Article

February 21, 2012
Singing the national anthem

Dear  Editor,
 
Am I the only Bahamian disgusted to see the cultural shift to Americanize the singing of our national anthem?  Is our proximity to the United States invading or pervading this aspect of our culture too?  Since when do we stand at attention and become spectators at the singing of our anthem?  Since when does the singing of our anthem become an artistic rendition of some soloist?  Since when do  we clap at the end of the singing of our anthem?  Seriously!  Since when?
In The Bahamas, at least the last time I checked, we were taught to participate in the singing of our anthem, not spectate.  And after the singing we immediately recite, hopefully sincerely, the pledge of allegiance.  Most of us adults know of American artists who gaffe at some special national event because they don't remember, more like don't know, the words of their anthem.  That is a natural consequence of the average citizen listening, spectating rather than participating.
Let us get back to our tradition.  There is no apparent cultural advancement or cultural progression inherent in spectating as compared to participating.  So why the shift?  As a matter of fact, during last year's senior boys basketball championship, with high level government officials attending, the anthem was sung solo style and the audience broke out in applause.  The pledge was completely forgotten until someone yelled out for the pledge.  And yes, the announcer said, "Oh  yes, the pledge."  Is it any wonder that that happened?  And apparently no leader sought to correct that even for future references.
When the national stadium opens this week, will we all proudly stand and sing our anthem.  Or will we stand and spectate, listening to a soloist?  When Prince Harry visits, will he see Bahamian culture at the singing of our anthem, or will he be treated to the American version?  Will he hear the voices of thousands of our present and next generation of young people proudly singing their anthem or will he be treated to one of our talented soloists followed by handclapping and hooting?
Let us get back to the participatory singing/pledge and refuse absolutely to let the solo, the clapping and hooting creep into this most unique indispensable expression of our culture.  Let us lift up our head, our hearts and our voices and sing proudly our national anthem.
 
- Alastair "Dr. B." Basden
 

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News Article

February 29, 2012
Youth Express Essay, Rap and Poetry Competition Launched to Promote a Drug-free Life

Finalists to Participate in National Geographic's Photo Camp on Cape Eleuthera

The
United States Embassy in partnership with the Bahamas National Drug
Council (BNDC) is pleased to announce the launch of the first "Youth
Express" Essay, Rap and Poetry Competition. The purpose of the contest
is to encourage students throughout The Bahamas to consider the harmful
impact of illegal drugs and to reflect on how they can resist negative
peer pressure and act as leaders against drugs in their community.  This
exciting program is part of a continuing partnership between the US
Embassy, the Bahamas National Drug Council and the National Anti-Drug
Secretariat to reduce the demand for illegal drugs and foster ...

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News Article

January 31, 2012
Davies: Word about BISX is beginning to spread

The market is being solidified and it should deepen and broaden over time, according to the CEO of the Bahamas International Securities Exchange (BISX).
Keith Davies shared with Guardian Business that BISX experienced some market activity towards the end of 2011.
He noted that BISX's name has become synonymous with market operations and what is happening in the Bahamian economy.
"Our market is taking those small, positive incremental steps, which will lead to the broadening and deepening of our market.  This will give people a choice," he explained.
Davies said that as BISX gains recognition, more companies are expressing a desire to become involved with the exchange.
"Currently, there is the ongoing APD deal.  That company has indicated its intention and desire to seek a listing.  There have also been a number of other companies that have expressed the desire to become involved with the exchange," he noted.
BISX's CEO is hoping to introduce local small businesses to the capital market through the implementation of its small business initiative.
"I believe it is going to stimulate the economy.  You will really begin to see stimulated growth in the country in the mid-to-lower level on the capital market, as most businesses here in The Bahamas are small," Davies revealed.
He also pointed out to Guardian Business that BISX was recently designated as an offshore securities market by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission.
It's a move that Davies said BISX is trying to capitalize on.  The designation itself took more than three years to get.  He said BISX is presently working with partners on how to take advantage of it.
"Once you get a certain type of recognition and the word gets out you begin to get calls.  We have been getting a number of communications from interested businesses who are finding out who we are since that designation," he said.
"There were some who didn't know us and there are those that knew, but are discovering more of what we have to offer and the services that we can provide."
The United Kingdom's HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) designated BISX as a recognized stock exchange in April 2010.
In the meantime, BISX and the Bahamas Central Securities Depository (BCSD) are relocating their officers to the second floor of the Fort Nassau Centre of the British Colonial Hilton.
"It provided us what we needed in terms of space, parking and access to the city's center.  It was nothing more than a normal operational move."
He continued: "We came to the end of our previous lease.  We were there for three years and we decided to move to a new location because it became available."

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News Article

June 02, 2011
Ingraham: Many judges incompetent

During a final courtesy call with then U.S. Ambassador to The Bahamas John Rood days before the 2007 general election, Free National Movement (FNM) leader Hubert Ingraham remarked that many of the judges in The Bahamas were "simply not competent, having been appointed for political reasons," a U.S. diplomat claimed in one of the cables in the batch of diplomatic documents obtained exclusively by The Nassau Guardian through WikiLeaks.
"Ingraham acknowledged that the Bahamian courts were dysfunctional, and needed changes in leadership," the embassy official wrote.
According to the cable, Ingraham said he did not have a problem with extraditing major drug dealers, but believed that small time drug dealers should be prosecuted locally.
Ingraham reportedly told the ambassador that cases move too slowly and many criminals are out on bail committing new offenses.  "He also noted that Bahamian prosecutors are often wary of taking high profile cases to jury due to possible tampering, and that in non-jury trials the maximum sentence for a drug offense is five years."
The cable revealed that Ingraham and the ambassador sparred over the case of five baggage handlers arrested in December 2006 in Florida on suspicion of drug trafficking.
"Ingraham made it clear he believes the Nassau Flight Services baggage handlers were set up," the cable said.
"The ambassador stated that the training (the baggage handlers were going on) was routine, as others went and came back, adding that if individuals who commit crimes against U.S. law come to the U.S., they will be arrested."
The cable said Ingraham stated that his sources at the airport indicated otherwise.
He further indicated that if he was prime minister, the arrests occurring in this manner would have caused a serious bilateral issue, according to the cable.
Ingraham was quoted as saying, "If they committed the crimes here, they should be tried here".
The cable said he did not dispute the right of the United States to arrest them once they had entered U.S. territory.
In the end, the ambassador and Ingraham agreed to disagree on the manner of the arrests.
According to the cable, Deputy Chief of Mission Dr. Brent Hardt noted that other baggage handlers who did not travel to Florida in December had been picked up by the police but had not been charged.
He asked Ingraham how he would respond as prime minister if individuals engaged in such acts were unable to be prosecuted.
It is then that Ingraham allegedly made the comment about the dysfunctional court system.
"The opposition leader pledged that, if elected, he would make improvements in the Bahamian judiciary to speed up trials and get more criminals off the streets, the cable said.
The state of the judiciary was just one of several issues Ingraham discussed with the Americans, according to that cable.
Discussing aviation, Ingraham reportedly promised to work closely with the Federal Aviation Administration on aviation issues if elected, and stated, according to the cable, that he "knew where his bread was buttered."
The cable said the ambassador raised the issue of airport security and safety problems with Ingraham, stating that he remained concerned by both security vulnerabilities and overall airport management.
He told Ingraham that he would support the imposition of a 90-day review period for the airport if no progress is made on addressing long-standing security concerns, though he acknowledged that the government did now appear to be giving the issue serious attention, the 2007 cable said.
Ingraham reportedly asked the ambassador to elaborate on the problems.
The cable said: "Not needing any further prodding, the ambassador outlined several problems, including: The aesthetic appearance of the facilities, the slow pace in processing passengers, radar problems, and endemic security concerns.
"Ingraham stated that Minister of Transport and Aviation (Glenys) Hanna-Martin was 'out of her depth' and that there is no direction being given to civil aviation."
The cable said charges that his government had purchased a radar system that did not work (the ASR-9) concerned Ingraham.
He reportedly noted that his government had purchased the system upon a U.S. recommendation, and added that if he wins the election, he would make changes at the airport, to include getting the new radar system repaired and on line.
The cable said Ingraham also stated that he supports FAA running the Flight Information Region, observing that he had learned through hard experience that it would be too risky to defy the U.S. on such a sensitive safety issue.
The Christie administration had pledged to gain full control of The Bahamas' airspace and had promised that such an effort would result in tens of millions of dollars in additional revenue for the government. However, this was never achieved.
 
INGRAHAM ON POLITICS
The cable said that turning to the political scene, Ingraham observed that he would support Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) leader Perry Christie (then prime minister) for many jobs, but prime minister was not one of them.
As he did when he sat down with a U.S. diplomat in 2003, Ingraham in 2007 described Christie as "fatally disorganized and incapable of running a government."
The cable noted that the day before the meeting with the ambassador, the press widely quoted an exchange between Christie and Ingraham in which Ingraham referred to Christie as "impotent."
"Ingraham wryly noted that he was referring only to matters of governance," the cable said.
"He said that in his view, the PLP believes it has 'the right to govern' and that the FNM victories in 1992 and 1997 were accidents.
"He expressed the view that some of the investment projects such as Bimini Bay were too large, and that the environmental bureaucracy was unworkable."
Despite prodding, neither Ingraham nor Desmond Bannister, then chairman of the FNM, would reveal the FNM's budget for the upcoming election, the cable said.
It noted that parties are free to take money from any source, and Ingraham said that most of the money comes from businesses.
Persons outside the country can also contribute to parties, and he said that normally only outsiders with interests in The Bahamas do so, according to the cable.
"Ingraham also said that he had enough money for the campaign, but not all that he could use. Typically, money tends to flow in at the last minute when it is too late to deploy effectively, he pointed out," the cable said.
Observing that the PLP was running many more radio advertisements than the FNM this early in the campaign, he reportedly suggested that this reflected their anxiety about the election.
Much of the money used for campaign paraphernalia is actually spent in the United States to buy T-shirts and hats, he noted, according to the cable.
RACES TO WATCH
The cable said the FNM leader said he expected a short campaign of 24 days, with elections called soon after Easter.
Ingraham provided the ambassador with a "scorecard" of key races to watch to determine the outcome of the 2007 election, the cable added.
"In Fox Hill, he predicted that if the PLP wins that seat, they are going to probably win the election, but he also felt that Foreign Minister Fred Mitchell would be defeated by his candidate," the cable said.
"He also noted his surprise that Tourism Minister (Obie) Wilchcombe may be in trouble in his own constituency.
"On the other hand, if Housing Minister Neville Wisdom is reelected, that would be a sign the PLP was on its way to victory."
The diplomat wrote in that 2007 cable that the FNM expects to win the Exuma seat being contested by former Bahamian Ambassador to the U.S. Joshua Sears.
According to the cable, Ingraham noted that the polls in 2002 were more accurate than often acknowledged, adding that the lesson from that campaign was that undecided voters usually broke against the government.
"Polls are now being taken on the larger islands, but Ingraham refused to divulge the results," the cable said.
"Ingraham said the PLP strategy was to increase the negative perceptions of him and make him a central election issue."
The American diplomat wrote that Ingraham is a very polarizing figure and PLP ads are clearly targeting him personally.
"(Ingraham) alluded that many people are personally benefiting from the PLP government and do not want the gravy train to end with an FNM victory," the cable said.
"Ingraham dismissed the PLP's use of the race card, linking his party to the former colonial UBP party, stating that he had credibility on the issue and noted that Christie's own grandfather was white."
In the comment section of the cable, the American noted that Ingraham is "always engaging and never at a loss for words."
"Ingraham seemed very comfortable on the issues and did not shy away from disagreeing with the ambassador, as in the case of the airport arrests," the cable said.
"While he pledged cooperation on aviation issues and promised to make the judicial system work better, he also made clear he would not hesitate to disagree with the U.S. if he felt Bahamian interests were not being well served."
The diplomat added:  "Ingraham conveyed the self-assurance of a leader who has been in charge before and believes he soon will be again.
"From the United States' perspective, an Ingraham-led government would likely abandon the PLP's sympathetic posture toward Cuba and might be less interested in engaging China.
"Ingraham would also give us an interlocutor willing and able to make decisions and follow through on them.
"His ten years as prime minister have given him a good understanding of the United States and how to work with us, and he certainly looks forward to maintaining our traditionally close relations."
 
 
 
 
 
 

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News Article

January 10, 2012
RUSSIA CONCERNED ABOUT NUCLEAR IRAN

RUSSIA expressed regret and concern Tuesday about Iran's launch of uranium enrichment up to 20 per cent at an underground facility, but urged all parties involved in the nuclear standoff with Tehran to avoid hasty moves.

The Russian Foreign Ministry's statement mixed cautious criticism of Iran, an important trading partner, with a call for more talks -- a fine line Moscow has walked in the past.

The Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the launch of the work at the facility near Iran's holy city of Qom demonstrated that Tehran was continuing to ignore international concerns about its nuclear programme. It added, however, that Iran had notified the International Atomic Energy Agen ...

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News Article

January 14, 2012
Amateur artists get their night

Twelve Bahamian amateur artists are finally getting their chance to shine: The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas is preparing to host their one-night-only spotlight honoring the creative visions of non-established or non-professional artists in society with their All-Star Amateur Artist Night at the gallery grounds this Friday, January 20.
The exhibition follows their call for entries late last year which would give such artists a big break with a chance to exhibit their work in a professional setting like the NAGB. The response from interested artists was enough to show Assistant Educational Officer at the NAGB Jordia Benjamin that such a venue is needed in a sometimes insular art world.
"There was a lot of exciting work from amateur artists for this opportunity to showcase their work, so it confirms our opinions and speculations that there is a hunger for this environment to be made to encourage our amateur artists," she says.
Despite the amount of positive response, only sixteen pieces by twelve artists with a variety of backgrounds made the cut - including emerging artists just starting to experiment with visual art, College of The Bahamas students and even some high school students.
The final group of artists whose work can be seen this Friday are Felicity Carey, Astrid Adjuah Cleare, Francesca Curry, Tania Delmonte, Dion Farquharson, Jasmyn Glinton, Lauren Glinton, J. Hepburn, Kachelle Knowles, Steven Schmid, Giovanna Swaby and Deime Ubani.
"We would have loved to include everything but because of the association with the gallery it has to be a certain standard and caliber and had to have been a reflection of the show that is already up - the Kendal Hanna show," explains Benjamin. "It had to be in that same feeling."
Indeed, the All-Star Amateur Artist Night is an event keeping in the subject matter explored by the current Kendal Hanna retrospective, "Happy Birthday To Me". Hanna carried the torch for abstract expressionism in early Bahamian art history, forging the way for the next generation of Bahamian artists to explore such a mode of expression and develop a critical understanding of the medium so that today, Bahamian art has been opened up to many new modes of expression, inclusive of the abstract.
To that end, the Curatorial Department at the NAGB looked for work from the entries by amateur artists that engaged with Hanna's themes and techniques through abstract pieces and portraiture.
"We weren't looking for a copycat," explains curatorial trainee at the NAGB, Nastassia Pratt. "We wanted to find someone who came to the gallery, walked through the space and left with some impression that influenced their work."
"I was rather impressed by the entries. People really took to heart that we were trying to model this show after Kendal as a tribute," she continues. "I think that the pieces we've selected to show the public really speak to that - they're pure, they're really, really raw. Some pieces may take a moment or two for you to see for yourself what it's all about, but pretty much what you see is what you get and they're beautiful pieces."
For one of the amateur artists chosen by the curatorial department, Deime Ubani, the call for submissions was a chance to honor Kendal Hanna's technique and contribution to the Bahamian art world.
"Kendal Hanna's work is very different from traditional Bahamian artwork and I like that," says Ubani. "He stepped out on his own back then when people didn't understand what he was doing. I went to see the exhibition before I knew about the call and I was interested in his work, so I thought this would be a good opportunity for me to study him."
Her chosen piece, "Friday Morning" holds a conversation with Hanna's work while keeping with her focus as an artist on exploring generation gaps.
"I focus on society in my work, mainly the comparison between what used to be and what now is, the hardship of things," she explains about her piece. "It's Friday, it's the end of the week, it's time to relax, but at the same time bills need to be paid and even though you get your paycheck you might not see any of it."
Though she had studied art at the College of The Bahamas and exhibited in the Central Bank Annual Art Competition, it's her first time exhibiting work in a major professional setting and the opportunity to network with established artists and exhibit alongside a master artist is exciting for her.
Not only is the exhibition an opportunity to bridge the gap between emerging and established artists, but also a move by the NAGB to bridge the divide between the insular art community and the wider public, explains Jordia Benjamin.
"It's a big exciting evening because we're bringing two worlds together - we're exposing the gallery to people who would not usually think of coming into the gallery," says Benjamin.
"Coming into this year we're really going to be pushing the gallery logo, 'The NAGB belongs to you'. It doesn't belong to a certain sector and I think sometimes the public believes that because we are in a certain location and in a certain building that it makes them feel like it's not theirs. But it is. It's for all Bahamians."
Giovanna Swaby, whose acrylic painting was also chosen to be a part of the special one-night-only exhibition, is thankful for the opportunity to find an entry into an often insular local art world.
"It seems difficult to break into the art world here so when you have an open opportunity like this, it's a lot easier to feel like you can submit and you won't be as intimidated by other people in the show," says Swaby.
Though her work has been included in several smaller exhibitions, Swaby feels The All-Star Amateur Artist Night is her first foray into the professional art world - especially as her painting is a departure from the filmmaking medium she usually uses. Painting gives her a chance to pay tribute to a master Bahamian artist who has always inspired her.
"In my piece I tried to use a lot of the techniques Kendal Hanna uses in his work. It's an abstract piece so I really tried to leave it open for interpretation to the audience so each of them can have a different interpretation," says Swaby. "I hope audiences can take a minute to think about it and be inspired by it or get some sort of meaning from it that will help them in their own life."
With support by The Caribbean Bottling Company CO., (Bahamas) Ltd., the evening promises to be a great success - not only visually but in the realm of performance as well, for the audience can view work against a background of music by the youth orchestra Virtuoso Strings from Grays Music Center under the direction of Mr. Gray.
Yet the night belongs to those amateur artists who often get overlooked but whose work can tackle the most pressing issues facing society today. Indeed audiences who attend the evening can view the comprehensive look into Kendal Hanna's work, "Happy Birthday to Me" for the last time as well as the sixteen pieces in the All-Star Amateur Artist Night, giving them a chance to stand at the intersection of past, present and future in the Bahamian cultural landscape - one of many nights to come.
"I'm very excited to have future All-Star Amateur Artist Nights and to continue to give opportunities to amateur artists," says Benjamin. "I had to turn away calls we received after our deadline but I gave them hope that we're going to have it again in the future so they could submit their work again."
Hopefully through this practice of holding annual calls from non-established locals artists the NAGB can become a safe haven and exciting melting pot of untapped talent, points out Pratt.
"I think that everyone needs a forum to show what they can produce," she says. "For a lot of people, approaching galleries to show their work is intimidating, so to have a call like this it helps to build the confidence of artists of different levels, which is something that will be reflected in their work."
"It's a good way to say 'It's ok, you're growing, and we'll give you time to grow.' It's something all galleries should be doing. We want this to be a platform for folks to look forward to entering - we want to create that dialogue with those artists out there."
The All-Star Amateur Artist Night along with the closing celebration for the Kendal Hanna retrospective, "Happy Birthday To Me" will commence this Friday, January 20 at 6:30 p.m. at The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas. For more information, call 328-5800/1.
 

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News Article

June 07, 2011
The Obama and the Ingraham haters Pt. 2

Barack Obama and Hubert Ingraham share more than a birthday and being reared from a young age by devoted grandmothers who instilled within them confidence and the promise of rewards for hard work and relentlessness.
Against considerable odds, both men combined prodigious intellect, a dogged work ethic and discipline to overcome disadvantage, setbacks, and racial and class prejudice, eventually becoming the leader of their respective countries.
The President and the Prime Minister are highly successful politicians with notable accomplishments who chose the law as their profession but public service and politics as their passion and life's vocation.  Men of clear ideals, they are pragmatists getting what they want over time.
What fellow Nassau Guardian columnist Ian Strachan astutely observed of Mr. Ingraham can be said of Mr. Obama:  They are typically the smartest people in the room.  And, they take great pride in recruiting people of talent into their administrations.
Both can be technocratic, delighting in the details of public policy and the workings and intricacies of government.  Early risers, they enjoy working, doing so around-the-clock and often at a feverish pace.  They know the value of time and that lost time means squandered opportunities.
The leaders take considerable care with important public statements and addresses suggesting a discipline of mind and a penchant for preparation resembling an attorney preparing to deliver a public brief on behalf of a client.  Neither is given to empty rhetoric in their policy utterances.
PERSONA
It is not an uncommon mistake in politics to confuse persona with policy and even with potential for productivity.  Winston Churchill, Britain's articulate, eloquent and charismatic wartime leader would undoubtedly win the popular vote for greatest prime minister.
But a more sober and reflective group of historians came to the conclusion that that title should go to Clement Attlee who was the exact personality opposite of Sir Winston: mild-mannered and almost totally devoid of anything that could be described as charisma.
Yet it was Mr. Attlee, the historians concluded, who changed Britain forever with his socialist revolution in 1945 bringing about the most fundamental, sweeping and lasting changes in British society.
Though stereotyped as cool and unfeeling by their detractors, both Mr. Obama and Mr. Ingraham have demonstrated that the critics have missed out on something deeper and more important about the two men.
Mr.Obama's critics were misled by his persona to conclude that, for instance, he would be soft in the "fight against terrorism", especially when compared with his bombastic predecessor, George Bush, who indulged in "dead or alive" rhetoric about Osama bin Laden.
Yet it was the allegedly effete, arugula-munching Barack Obama who demonstrated the kind of courageous decisiveness and nerves of steel that resulted in the death of bin Laden.
Because of his less than warm and cuddly persona, Hubert Ingraham has been accused of being lacking in compassion.
CHANGES
Yet, historians -- and those who care to examine the record even now -- will conclude that he was the Bahamian Prime Minister who brought about the most sweeping and progressive changes to the benefit of working class Bahamians, including the minimum wage, shorter work week and unemployment benefits.
Although Barack Obama and Hubert Ingraham have different personalities and different life stories, it is intriguing how they evoked similar responses from their detractors when they aspired to national leadership.
The personal attacks on the black man who presumed to aspire to the highest office in the United States started at the very beginning and has not let up.  That racism has fuelled much of the relentless onslaught is undeniable.  Sometimes the language is barely veiled.
Unlike Mr. Obama, Mr. Ingraham did not have the opportunity for a university education and the acquisition of great social polish.  In a country such as the Bahamas one might have thought that one so capable would have been celebrated for having come so far from such humble beginnings.
Yet, like Mr. Obama, Mr. Ingraham has had to endure endless abuse.  While not all motivated by racism, the attacks on Mr. Ingraham have certainly been about class and background.
Even those who acknowledged his extraordinary intellect and his obvious political talents (one even claiming credit for helping to develop the latter!) still attacked him on the basis of class and background.
UNAMBIGUOUS
Also, in the case of Mr. Ingraham, there has been little if any attempt to use veiled language.  Witness such expressions as "rude boy", "delivery boy", and the clear and unambiguous "no broughtupsy".
What is remarkable is that Mr. Ingraham does not lose his temper when he hears some of his detractors whining and complaining about "personal attacks".
Mr. Obama and Mr. Ingraham have different public personas but similar political characters.  They are both pragmatic, results-oriented political leaders who are not afraid of crisis and challenge, but who are impatient with stupid talk and dismissive of pie-in-the-sky dreamers.
Barack Obama came into the presidency of the United States at a time of great economic challenge.
While Hubert Ingraham has practised the art of politics longer than Barack Obama, they are both good at it and generally effective.  To borrow a witticism, they also share the sort of critics who, even if they walked on water, would criticize them as for being unable to swim.
Barack Obama came into the presidency of the United States at a time when America was facing its greatest economic challenge since the Depression.  It appears that his efforts to guide the country out of the crisis may have been successful in spite of the stumbling blocks put in his way by his opponents.
Hubert Ingraham, in his first administration, had the unenviable task of restoring the good name of the Bahamas which had been dragged through the mud of corruption and scandal by his opponents.
In his second administration, Mr. Ingraham and his colleagues have successfully steered the Bahamas through rough economic waters brought on by external forces.
No doubt historians will examine with great interest how Mr. Ingraham was able to avert what could have been a catastrophic experience while at the same time carrying out the greatest infrastructural restoration in the history of the country.
frontporchguardian@gmail.com
www.bahamapundit.com

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News Article

June 06, 2011
Politics, diplomacy and the church

A U.S. Embassy official claimed in a cable penned in 2003 that Bishop Neil C. Ellis -- who is repeatedly described in diplomatic documents as Perry Christie's spiritual adviser -- remarked that the then prime minister was not a "true man of God" although he was trying to be religious.
The American also wrote that at a meeting with Ellis at his Mount Tabor Baptist Church, he also remarked that Hubert Ingraham, at the time former prime minister, was definitely "not a man of God" even if he does attend church.
When we sat down with Ellis a few days ago at Mount Tabor to discuss the cables that mentioned his name, Ellis denied most of the claims documented by U.S. diplomats.
But it is the claim regarding his purported comment on Christie and Ingraham's spirituality that he seemed most taken aback by.
"I don't qualify to determine who is a man of God and who is not a man of God," he told The Nassau Guardian.
"...For me to say I think Christie is a pretender would be very hypocritical of me because I've always said publicly and I would say again, I believe Perry Christie is one of the greatest humanitarians I've ever met."
A read of at least two cables shows that while Ellis was growing his church, American diplomats were placing the spotlight on him and his relationship with Christie in a major way.
"Quite a bit of it surprises me," said Ellis, when asked about what his general impression was of what the Americans attributed to him.
According to the cables, obtained by The Nassau Guardian through WikiLeaks, despite not being a member of the government, Ellis wielded considerable influence in the Christie administration, as did businessman Franklyn Wilson.
One of the cables, which was classified by then Deputy Chief of Mission Robert Witajewksi, said,  "Ellis openly uses his pulpit in one of Nassau's largest and fastest growing churches to advance the PLP's political agenda, and by allying himself so closely with Christie, has surpassed many of his more established (and perhaps more respectable) religious brethren in influence."
The name at the end of that particular cable is Richard Blankenship, who at the time was United States ambassador to The Bahamas.
Ellis told The Guardian he was not well liked by Blankenship because he had made a statement about the involvement of diplomats in the local affairs of a country.
He said it arouses curiosity that the Americans want to know everything that is happening on every level in the Bahamas.
 
'A CONTROVERSIAL FIGURE'
 
The Americans documented two meetings they say they had with Ellis at his church in Pinewood Gardens.
Ellis told The Nassau Guardian he recalled at least one of those meetings, but he remembered it being very informal with no detailed discussion about Christie or Ingraham.
According to one of the cables, on December 2, 2003, a U.S. diplomat paid a courtesy call on Ellis, described as "hard to pin down" and "charismatic".
"During the nearly two-hour meeting, Ellis described the enterprise his parish has become," the cable said.
"He also outlined his role as the local Dixville Notch, New Hampshire, of Bahamian politics -- the one visit that all aspiring politicians must make in order to confirm their legitimacy."
Ellis totally dismissed this claim when he spoke with The Nassau Guardian.
"Why would any sensible, logically thinking person make a statement like that?" he asked
The cable added: "Ellis has come far, from a humble background, mentored and supported by prominent businessman Frankie Wilson, with whom he maintains a close personal and business relationship."
The American diplomat wrote in 2003 that conventional wisdom holds that Ingraham had sealed his fate by displaying arrogance toward the religious leadership while he was prime minister.
"The electorate of the Bahamas is devout, and the church leaders refused to remain silent after the former PM had expressed views antithetical to religious conservatives, such as welcoming to port a cruise liner catering to gay clientele and advocating for constitutional reform targeted toward improving women's rights," the diplomat also wrote.
According to the diplomat who wrote the cable on the heels of the December 2, 2002 meeting, Ellis described "a strange ritual" whereby Christie had sought a meeting with him over a several week period as he was gearing up for the 2002 election campaign.
The cable said: "Ellis kept rebuffing [Christie's] request, offering him only a 10 minute slot.
"Finally, however, Ellis offered [Christie] the opportunity to travel with him on a religious speaking tour in the U.S., promising that if [Christie] attended three of his sermons, he would be available to counsel  [Christie] throughout the tour.
"Thus, the two men spent many intense hours together, during which time Ellis looked into [Christie's] soul and concluded that [Christie] has religious inclinations, but is 'not yet there'."
But Ellis said this could not be further from the truth.
"I can't look into a person's soul," he told The Nassau Guardian.  "I'm not the savior of the world.  Jesus is."
The cable said though Christie was not one of Ellis' regular parishioners, since the 2002 election, he had attended from time to time, as did all but three cabinet ministers.
An embassy official said in another cable after reportedly meeting with Ellis in late May 2002 that the bishop had expressed his desire for closer relations with the embassy, bemoaned his treatment in the press and offered a fascinating, intimate account of how he came to publicly endorse Christie in the last election.
The official said that as Wilson did in a separate meeting, Ellis unconvincingly denied having or wanting any real influence.  Both men were described as "powerbrokers" as it regards the PLP -- a claim Ellis laughed at as he denied it to the Guardian.
The embassy official described Ellis as one of the Bahamas' most controversial figures.
The cable said:  "He publicly endorsed Perry Christie during the 2002 campaign and reportedly told his congregation from the pulpit during a religious service that they must support Christie if they wished to remain members of his church."
The diplomat also wrote that Ellis also held a huge religious revival featuring a renowned U.S. evangelist that was a magnet for criticism about the reported "greediness" of its fundraising appeal.
"Establishment religious figures now sometimes preface fund-raising remarks by noting that the funds 'will not be used to build a vacation house in Bimini' to distinguish themselves from the self-proclaimed bishop," the cable said.
"The press hounds him constantly about his flamboyant personal lifestyle and open political preferences.
"Ellis was another protégé of (the late former prime minister) Sir Lynden Pindling, who identified him as a promising young man growing up on the small island of Bimini and brought him to Nassau to complete his education."
The diplomat wrote that Ellis is affiliated with the Full Gospel Baptist Church headquartered in New Orleans, and is its "bishop" for international churches, theoretically having all Full Gospel Baptist churches in The Bahamas under his leadership.
"Prime Minister Christie has openly referred to Ellis as his spiritual adviser, and many Bahamians assume that his influence runs deep within the administration," the cable said.
 
ENDORSING CHRISTIE
 
In the cable that came out of the May 2002 meeting with Bishop Ellis, the diplomat goes into amazing details about what was allegedly observed.
For instance, the cable said the embassy official was met by the first of Ellis' personal assistants upon arrival, and was passed on to the second, who entertained him while Ellis finished a meeting with his seven associate pastors.
According to the cable, Ellis then received the official in his "nicely appointed, bordering on lavish, but not quite passing over into poor taste, office."
"He was dressed in a loud magenta clerical shirt with gold and diamond cufflinks, a thick gold chain, several large gold rings and a gold Rolex watch," the embassy official wrote.
"Ellis is a thin, energetic man of middling height, in his early 40s.  He is married and has three adopted daughters." (Ellis said he does not have three adopted daughters).
Ellis also strongly denied the American diplomat's characterization of him.
In fact, he said he never owned a Rolex watch or diamond cufflinks in his life.
"Anybody who knows me knows that I am not given to much jewelry," added Ellis, now 50.
When The Guardian visited him, he was wearing his gold bishop's cross around his neck, his wedding band and a wristwatch (definitely not a Rolex).
In fact, Ellis said he shops for $10 watches at Bijoux Terner in the Atlanta airport and has one watch that is a little more expensive that was a gift from someone in the ministry.
Ellis said he wears his bishop's ring only at special services -- a fact later confirmed separately by his associate pastors and assistant who had not been privy to his earlier discussion with The Guardian.
They all said they have never seen the bishop with any Rolex watches and that he barely wears jewelry.
The cable alleges that Ellis described "the remarkable story about how he came to endorse Perry Christie in the 2002 elections."
The diplomat wrote:  "According to Ellis, he barely knew Christie before the run up to the 2002 election.
"After that time, he says Christie began seeking an appointment with him, saying he needed to speak with him for several hours.
"Ellis says that he kept putting Christie off, both because he didn't have that time to spare and because he had a bad initial impression of him."
According to the cable, Ellis said this bad opinion dated from the PLP leadership battle between Christie and Dr. Bernard Nottage.
"Nottage was a friend and former congregation member of Ellis and harbored a lot of ill will toward Christie because of his loss," the diplomat wrote.
"Christie was persistent in his pursuit of Ellis, whose church membership has definite PLP leanings."
The cable added:  "Finally, according to Ellis, he agreed to take Christie along with him on an evangelical trip to the U.S., promising that if Christie attended all the services he preached at, Ellis would give him the time in between to listen to his appeal.
"Ellis said that when given the opportunity, Christie and Ellis spoke for 13 hours straight, about both secular and spiritual matters and that Ellis progressively became more convinced that Christie had been 'sent by God' to lead the Bahamas.
"The meeting ended, according to Ellis, in a scene reminiscent of the Biblical story of Samuel's anointing of Saul, with Christie coming around the table they were seated at, going to his knees and requesting a blessing from Bishop Ellis.
"At the time, Ellis reported, the spirit came upon him and told him that he had to endorse Christie."
The cable also said:  "Ellis, on the one hand, denied having or wanting any political influence with Christie, but on the other hand went to great lengths to explain how close their relationship is and how often Christie calls on him for spiritual guidance.
"For example, Ellis recounted that Christie had presented him with the names of his Cabinet nominees before they were announced and asked him to pray over them and give his opinion."
But Ellis told The Guardian that the official's characterization of these events is "totally false".
"First of all, I can't say I had a bad impression of Mr. Christie before I met him," Ellis said.
"But it is true I didn't know him that well (prior to 2002).  All I knew of him was his public life.
"As it relates to Mr. Christie seeking my anointing, that is totally false.  I don't remember him ever saying that to me and I don't remember saying that to anybody."
Ellis said it is true that Christie traveled with him more than once.
"The first trip he attended with me, he said he just wanted to talk with me and spend a little time with me," the bishop said.
"My office let him know what my schedule was and when they told him of a particular trip that was going on he asked if he could go and I had no objections because people go on trips with me from time to time.
"I did say to him since he was a politician that I would prefer him not to travel alone with me, so he brought two of his other colleagues with him."
Ellis said the trip was to Atlanta.  He also recalled another occasion where Christie traveled with him to Baltimore, Maryland.
"I don't see that as an unusual situation," he said of the trips.
Ellis also suggested it was laughable to write that he spoke to Christie for 13 hours straight.
"Just think about that," he said.
"I do know that in the 2002 election, I was very up front with my support for Mr. Christie.  I don't believe that if you have a conviction you have to be secretive about it.
"...I felt at that time this was the man to lead our country and I was proven to be right at the time.
"To say he was sent by God to lead the country, I don't know if any of us could be that bold."
Ellis also said he had no recollection of Christie ever getting on his knees to be anointed by him.
"If the person (the embassy official) wasn't even clear about what I was wearing, they were putting things on me that were not on my person, then I don't how much more attention to pay to anything that was said," he said.
 
MULTIPLE ATTACKS
 
According to the May 2002 cable, Ellis claimed that ever since Mount Tabor started to grow and he began to be seen as a successful pastor, he has come under attack by some people, including other pastors, who are jealous of his success.
As a result, Ellis claims he has been unfairly vilified in the press, particularly the scandal-mongering tabloid The Punch, the diplomat wrote.
"Ellis says that during one stretch The Punch printed negative articles about him in 95 consecutive editions.
"...In addition, Ellis has received heavy criticism for the large salary he draws (reportedly a tax-free $180,000 a year), and his penchant for luxurious living.
"Recently, attention has focused on the impressive house he is building for himself in one of Nassau's more exclusive neighborhoods, reportedly costing $1 million.
"Ellis claimed that the stories were exaggerated, but made no excuses for his lifestyle, implying it was only fitting for the pastor of such a large and thriving church."
Again rejecting how he was characterized by the diplomat, Ellis told The Nassau Guardian, "I understand the role I am in...I'm always up for public scrutiny.
"I try to take it gracefully.  I've never responded to any attacks in the media...When you're in the public's eye and when you're in public life you have to be open to public scrutiny."
The diplomat wrote in 2002, "As a consequence of his ongoing bad press, Ellis has vowed not to respond to any of the allegations against him.
"Doing so, he said, just legitimizes those allegations and gives them more life.  Many in his congregation, he says, have disagreed with this policy and urge him to publicly lash out at his critics, which he admits is tempting, but he continues to maintain his silence, preferring to let the criticism pass."
Ellis told the Guardian he has not collected a salary from Mount Tabor in 17 years.
"I give my services to Mount Tabor free of charge," he said.
He said he earns money from speaking engagements, books and other products he offers.
"If Mount Tabor was paying me $180,000 I wouldn't be going home," he said with a laugh.
He stressed also that he never told his congregation to vote PLP or leave the church.
Ellis insists that the recording to this effect is a compilation of several sermons he delivered that were doctored by critics and sent to the media.
He said Christie never asked him to be his spiritual adviser and he never regarded himself as such.
Asked by The Nassau Guardian if he would be prepared to endorse Christie in the next general election, Ellis said it was not something he wished to discuss publicly as yet.
"Mr. Christie and I shared a wonderful relationship leading up to the (2002) election and thereafter," he added.
"I don't claim to have been any closer to him than any others."
Ellis stressed that he has respect for all of the country's leaders and noted that he was a part of a group of pastors who met with Ingraham last year to discuss important matters.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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News Article

June 09, 2011
The WikiLeaks cables

Dear Editor,

In the estimation of thoughtful Bahamians, both Hubert Ingraham and Fred Mitchell will have benefited from the U.S. cables' assessment of their stance toward our nearest neighbor.
Although from different political sides, both seem to have been courteous and respectful but independent and not remotely blinded by the more outlandish aspects of U.S. propaganda.
The authors of the Cables themselves do not come off well.
We learn of almost comical scheming between U.S. and Israeli diplomatic staff over an utterly harmless local mosque.  Let's hope that neither country expended too much of their taxpayers' money following international terrorist leads along Carmichael Road.
Instead of commenting on the breath-taking arrogance of an Israeli Ambassador who would have liked to thwart a group of Bahamians from following a religion of their choosing, the U.S. cablers seemed to rue the inability of local politicians to deny a right to Bahamians cherished in their own constitution.
The final disappointment of the cables is the casual, chillingly callous hope expressed therein that thousands of Bahamians would soon be denied cheap eye treatment in Cuba in furtherance of a vindictive cold war policy that serves nobody in the US, the Bahamas or Cuba.
On leaving office in 1961, Dwight Eisenhower (no pinko, incidentally) warned of the growth of a 'Military Industrial Complex', answerable to no one and with a life of its own. He could have applied his warning to any entity, organisation or group that becomes accustomed to the pools of unaccountable power that inevitably form below blind spots of public transparency.
As Bahamians we have a right to know how our politicians manage our most important bilateral relationship.
No less important to us (and everyone else on earth for that matter) is that the American public be kept informed of all the things (from the great to the downright miserable) that are done in their name -- and with their money.
Well done, Guardian.

Yours, etc.,
ANDREW ALLEN

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News Article

June 11, 2011
What is the creative economy

The word economy is thrown around a lot in society, but how the world thinks about economic possibility is undergoing a significant change. This Thursday, the multidisciplinary and collaborative network tmg* (the method group) will host their last of three discussions centered on business and design in The Bahamas. After discussing the design and business of producing and promoting "The Bahamian story" and exploring such branding through the case study of architecture, tmg* member Royann Dean brings together a panel of artists, creative entrepreneurs, critical thinkers, economists and politicians to explore how all of this comes together in the creative economy.
On June 16th at 6:30pm at The Hub, panelists John Cox, Jon Murray, Nicolette Bethel, Olivia Saunders and Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Charles Maynard will engage this very complex issue concerning the state of our economy and society.
The creative economy in a broad sense can encapsulate everything at the four-way intersection of art, business, culture and technology. If that sounds hard to pin down, that's because it is -- it's an offshoot of the knowledge economy, and like the knowledge economy, its effects can't entirely be tangibly measured like the imports and exports of other industries. But that doesn't mean it's less valuable or should be overlooked -- on the contrary, creative economy is an extremely important factor in the way a country efficiently and consistently brands itself and grows and thrives. Creative entrepreneurship by artists, nonprofits and businesses can produce goods and services that not only generate jobs and revenue in a country's economy, but also have far-reaching positive societal effects.
"One of the benefits that's been stated about the creative economy is, aside from the economic side of it, that you have social inclusion, because you don't necessarily need to have this division between trained people and less-trained people, because creativity can be reflected in all parts of generating economy," Royann Dean explains. "You have cultural diversity because at all levels people can create something based on culture or heritage and still generate income; and there's more social interaction because you have these people that are going to be bridging these divides to actually create something."
CREATIVE ECONOMY
The concept of a creative economy is relatively new; the term began appearing sometime around the turn of the century and has become particularly relevant in the age ofglobalization and rapid modernization. Yet, Dean points out, as the rest of the Caribbean region and indeed world embraces this perspective by encouraging creative entrepreneurship initiatives, The Bahamasseems woefully out of touch with this worldwide shift.
She uses the example of the United Nations Conference of Trade and Development (UNCTAD)'s Creative Economy Report 2010, which analyzes and measures the state of creative economy worldwide. The Bahamas is hardly mentioned alongside varied case studies and efforts by other countries in the region such as Jamaica, Barbados, and Trinidad and Tobago. We're essentially ten years behind in terms of creative economy development when we look at our neighbors, Dean points out.
This lack of quantifying our creative industries to gauge its economic benefits is worrying to panelist Jon Murray, who is an entrepreneur in this relatively new and underappreciated sector. He started Downtown Art Tours last year, giving locals and visitors alike a sampling of artistic spaces in our historic city, including the National Art Gallery, The D'Aguilar Foundation, New Providence Arts and Antiques and the murals the Love My Bahamas campaign.
"What's interesting about what I do is that it's service-based," he says. "I provide a service for this stuff that already preexists, so it's almost like a secondary industry where I'm not marketing or selling the works themselves; I have no ownership of the intellectual properties created, which is interesting because so much of creative economy is based on intellectual property."
"I think my business is a service business dependent on there actually being a creative economy," he continues. "Without the other institution and galleries functioning, I can't function appropriately. It shows a level of maturity in our industry if it were on paper."
But, he points out, it's not on paper -- in fact, there are hardly initiatives in place by any sector of society to measure the effects of creative industries and thus investment in potential exports for the country. This is unacceptable for many reasons, one being that our future potential as a destination in the globalized world hinges on culture and heritage -- not the same old sun, sand and sea.
Moderator Royann Dean hopes to also address this idea of "the experience economy" during the talk as it is important to the creative economy. After all, once tourists have their needs met, they seek an overall experience different from any other worldwide, and they are able to get that from culture and heritage.
"For tourism economy-based countries, that's a huge reason to have a good creative industry. This is the same thing Jackson Burnside was talking about 20 years ago -- we have the sun, sand and sea but people aren't going to be coming here for that anymore. Other countries have sun, sand and sea, plus they have mountains," Dean points out. "So the one thing we have going for us in terms of that is accessibility -- but Cuba is right there, and you can already use Euros in Cuba, so where is our experience? Where is our authentic experience? You can't really deliver an authentic experience unless you have something related to some sort of creative or cultural heritage, you can't."
Dean seems to be on point with the global perspective, for in the same UNCTAD Creative Economy 2010 report, their assessment for the region by the organization results in this advice: "In order for Jamaica and the Caribbean to survive in a globalized world, policymakers and stakeholders seeking economic growth and job creation must position the creative industries as the cornerstone of any serious development strategy."
Yet, points out fellow panelist Nicolette Bethel -- educator, anthropologist ,writer and former Director of Cultural Affairs -- we are lacking in that promotion through governmental policy.
"The Bahamas has absolutely no data because we don't think there is anything measurable about the creative economy," she says. "It's sad, but it is a measure of a) who we continue to elect into office and b) who they bring into civil service."
BRANDING & MARKETABILITY
In spite of this and recognizing the need for individuals to drive such change, working with the College of The Bahamas, Bethel has been producing measurable statistics about one of our main cultural industries that have export potential in terms of branding and marketability, and also potential to generate economy within the country: Junkanoo.
These surveys have uncovered quite a bit of information about the cost of Junkanoo, the Junkanoo participant, and also the Junkanoo consumer -- three parts of which can overall address how useful Junkanoo is to the economy, how it functions in branding and tourism, and how it can be used to generate economy in these sectors as well as become a viable source of income for its participants, making it a legitimate and measurable component of our creative economy. Bethel supposes that by making Junkanoo a major part of our creative economy, The Bahamas will see social improvements.
"Junkanoo is our major creative activity. One thing we are able to say is that Junkanoo involves thousands of people every year and many of these people are young men who are not necessarily hugely employable. Now, we have a major problem with unemployment and crime. What we haven't begun to measure is how much in man-hours each person was in the shack, how many hours that is, and just calculate the minimum wage, and thus the value of that particular commodity," she explains.
"If there was some way of generating revenue for some time that they were there -- I think that there are all kinds of ways to generate revenue -- then these people would be working, they'd have jobs. And they'd have jobs they'd generate their own money for that the government wouldn't have to do anything with. In Trinidad for example, this is a major part of their economy. The challenge to the Junkanoo community is how are we going to take all of these man-hours and make them profitable -- make them able to sustain some measure of employment for these guys?"
One way is to up our marketing of Junkanoo--and indeed, all cultural sectors -- to tourists, and this is where our government comes in. After all, they draft the policies that contribute to our branding. Yet this is the area in which Bethel -- and many participants in the creative and heritage sector in this country -- recognize our downfall. While elsewhere in the Caribbean, cultural festivals are seen as a viable source of tourism, employment generation and income, we seem to lack such perspective in The Bahamas, putting cultural events such as hosting CARIFESTA -- which twice we unsuccessfully attempted -- on the backburner.
It's shame because in the same UNCTAD report, they point out that "Heritage tourists are one of the highest-yield tourism groups; they stay longer and spend 38 percent more per day than traditional tourists. Therefore," they continue, " efficient heritage tourism policies and infrastructure at regional level can be an important approach to attract international travelers with special interest in heritage and the arts of the Caribbean region."
So why aren't we catching up to this fact? This is where the creative economy and how it is generated and promoted becomes a chicken-or-the-egg dance between government responsibility and responsibility by the creative community.
GOVERNMENT & POLICY-MAKING
Panelist Charles Maynard, the Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, is hoping to add the perspective from the government and policy-making side. Though he agrees that the cultural economy is important and should be developed and structured, his solution lies in the ability by the creative sector to take charge and make the government take notice. He uses Junkanoo to illustrate his point as it's our main creative industry.
"Over a period time Junkanoo has become popular for the general public and the funding followed it. When you have a large sector of your population involved in something and trying to push it forward, those are the kind of things that usually get the attention of the policy-makers," he explains. "The commitment to culture region-wide is always driven by the cultural community itself. If you depend on any government to drive your cultural development in terms of cultural expression and cultural economy, it isn't going to get anywhere."
What Minister Maynard implies in this statement is something many artists already unfortunately -- that they only have each other. In the end, panelist John Cox points out, creative people just make the most of what they have, making connections within the field and with those who can fund them. As founder of Popop Studios -- which recently became an international center of visual arts with their new not-for-profit status, allowing them to invite international artists to work in The Bahamas -- Cox recognizes the power of collaboration and education and the need to move beyond the limited idea of what being an artist or even being creative entails.
"Students say 'I want to do art' but they never really know exactly what they want to do because it's kind of presented to them in these vague terms all throughout primary and secondary school. So they have this vague idea of what it means to be creative, and most of that comes from the idea of well, if they make a hundred paintings and they sell them for a hundred dollars each, that's a hundred thousands dollars, and that's a pretty good salary, right?" he explains. "So we have this kind of basic kind of lemonade stall mentality, which isn't really the way businesses sustain each other. Really the way businesses kind of sustain each other is by networking and partnering and being able to predict long-term relationships with people where you know you're going to be able to build and predict support and also be able to provide an audience for your product, spawning positive future potential and future potential relationships that can build sustainability."
We've already seen that kind of mentality change just in the past five years, for in fact, many artist-run collectives -- the Bahamas Art Collective and Creative Nassau, for example -- are doing just that: bringing together people from all sectors of the creative community to think about creating their own opportunities, self-empowerment and making Nassau a cultural center in the world. Already dissatisfaction about governmental support and a desire to improve the standing of The Bahamas in the creative sector have spawned events just in the past few years such as Shakespeare in Paradise, Carifringe, The Bahamas International Film Festival and the Bahamas Writer's Summer Institute. In the end, it seems artists are always on their own, although they may band together.
UNTAPPED POTENTIAL
But why exactly is this so? And how is the government already investing in the art it sees as having proven itself -- would that be Junkanoo, with already a tremendous amount of untapped potential that we aren't recognizing? The question then seems to become: How do we change what we think is important and worth investing in? Minister Maynard offers the solution of instilling that indefinable "Bahamian spirit" found in Junkanoo in all aspects of the creative sector, but all that offers is more of the same kind of creativity and way of thinking, when creative economy is about reevaluation -- as Royann Dean puts it, "Nobody is looking for new ways to do things, they are looking for new ways to do the same old thing. We need to challenge things." Even Minister Maynard recognizes what's needed is an upheaval of the perception of creativity, even if it is within the perspective of the creative sector simply being responsible for themselves, which is only one dimension of this reality.
"We need to as a country appreciate some of these things we create, to have value for what's ours instead of importing it," he says. "It's cultural awareness, it's a collective thing to be able to team up and do as partners do, not sitting down and feeling sorry for yourself and saying the government isn't doing anything to get you any further in terms of where you want to go -- instead we need to say we need to be more focused not only from an individual standpoint but a collective vision standpoint, we need to have a collective vision."
This is something that panelist Olivia Saunders -- economist and educator -- is most concerned about when she thinks about the economic implications of the creative industry. For when we talk about the creative economy, we're not just talking about the arts -- we're talking about having a creative approach in general to our economy.
"I think I'll look from the perspective that we have to look beyond the boundaries we have set for ourselves in terms of what the economy is and what the economy is supposed to do for us or what the economy is supposed to be. We just have to be creative and think differently about our economy in The Bahamas," she says. "One side of it is how creative we are in this existing economy, whether we think the economy we have is creative. Does it lend itself to creativity, or are we to be considering a brand new kind of economy we can truly call creative? Once we do that, what ought it to mean for us then if we decide to design a sort of creative economy?"
Essentially, she points out, flaws in the systems of our everyday lives contribute to this mindset.
"It's a culture. If you look at our politics, it's not really creative. If you look at so many other aspects of our life, they're not creative," she says. "The economy is an extremely important part of it but it's just a part of how we just look at things, we really don't want too many things to be very different from what we know for sure, so at the very core there has to be people being sufficiently open to accept creativity."
In the end, it would seem it all comes down to how we value ourselves as a culture. After all, if we value intellectualism, if we value creativity, if we value our heritage and indeed ourselves, we become a society open to creative ways to engage and advance our economical structure. And that responsibility is not on any one group, but each group, and each individual, and certainly with response from an open-minded government.
However these only scratch the surface of what the creative economy even is and how to improve it -- the deeper we go, the more we come full circle or stare into an abyss. The first step, Royann Dean emphasis, is to educate yourself about options -- all creative thinkers, government employees, and even people who believe they are not affected by the creative industry, for if the creative economy operates as it should, it affects the entire society positively.
"The whole idea behind tmg* talks was to get the conversation started, to get the ball rolling and to let people know that listen, there are other people thinking the same things you are, asking the same questions and who have ideas. Things can happen," Dean says. "In that way, I'm happy with the result. The question is, what happens after? How do we put the insight that was gained from the talks in motion?"
Have some ideas? Collaboration is the first step, and everyone matters. The discussion begins at 6:30pm at The Hub on Colebrook Lane and East Bay Street and is free to the public though you are welcome to donate to the venue. For more information, visit the tmg* website at www.tmginnovates.com.

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News Article

January 11, 2012
SURVEY AIMS TO 'MATCH' BAHAMAS LABOUR MARKET

By NATARIO McKENZIE

Tribune Business Reporter

nmckenzie@tribunemedia.net

THE Department of Statistics, in conjunction with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), yesterday launched a comprehensive wage and productivity survey aimed at ultimately "matching labour demand with labour supply".

Kelise Dorsett, director of the Bahamas' Department of Statistics, told Tribune Business that while employers have often expressed concern over not being able to find persons with the necessary skills sets, the survey was a move towards tackling the issue.

Speaking with Tribune Business, Mrs Dorsett said: "It's a very comprehensive manpower study that will enable us to better ...

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News Article

June 17, 2011
Cable: Christie considered resigning

Opposition Leader Perry Christie told a U.S. Embassy official that he planned to resign from the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) if the party was unsuccessful in its Election Court challenges that followed the 2007 poll, according to a diplomatic cable written in 2008.
The official wrote that Christie indicated that "he would stay on only as long as the PLP had a realistic chance of being named the victor in the contested seats."
It is unclear which embassy official wrote the cable, but then Ambassador Ned Siegel's name is at the end of the document.
Following the 2007 general election, the PLP through its defeated candidates challenged three seats: Pinewood, Marco City and Blue Hills.
It lost both the Pinewood and Marco City challenges. The Blue Hills challenge was dropped.
Leslie Miller, who ran for the PLP in Blue Hills, said he considered the challenge a waste of time, as elections are not won in court.
After the Pinewood loss, and Kenyatta Gibson's resignation from the PLP, the American diplomat speculated in the 2008 cable that Christie was about to step down.
"For the foreseeable future, the PLP will be distracted and consumed with its ongoing internal disarray and lack of direction," the official wrote.
"The party convention, if and when it is held, may not resolve even the leadership crisis....With this defection (Gibson) and the FNM victory in the first court challenge, it is likely that Christie will now step aside unless the factionalism is so strong that no consensus can be reached on a successor."
In the 2008 cable, the embassy official wrote, "Gibson's resignation is a big nail in Perry Christie's political coffin.
"It will intensify pressure for Christie to step aside for new leadership. It also eases political pressure on the FNM, which is expecting to win ongoing court challenges to three seats by the PLP."
The embassy official expressed the view that Gibson's "attack" on Christie after his resignation from the party was ironic given that he was one of the MPs involved in a high-profile fight in the Cabinet Office while the PLP was in office.
"Christie's unwillingness to replace Gibson fed the image of his indecisiveness as a leader, and of the PLP as a party without internal discipline," the cable said.
"Christie no doubt feels personally betrayed for having stood by Gibson only to have Gibson bite his hand."
The cable added: "The resignation has laid bare the fractional lines in the party, with the party's official website now being used to criticize other members, and those members in turn publicly criticizing the party's own website."
The embassy official wrote that Gibson's resignation undermined the PLP leadership's post-election strategy of contesting the three seats.
"The resignation, which was accompanied by a blistering exchange with the PLP leadership, is a blow to the embattled PLP leader, former Prime Minister Perry Christie."
The official opined at the time that Gibson's resignation was certain to reopen debate about Christie's record and the need for strategic changes following the PLP's "shock election defeat" in May 2007.
"The unexpected resignation has bared to the public the infighting and backstabbing that had plagued the PLP during its time in office and has only intensified following the PLP's loss," the cable said.
"The turnabout in parliamentary fortunes eases pressure on the FNM government as it struggles to deal with daunting challenges of crime and stagnating tourism numbers."
The U.S. Embassy official also wrote that Gibson's surprise resignation not only upset the PLP's post-election strategy, but further undermined the already "weak position of PLP leader Perry Christie who, like the rest of the party, was reportedly blindsided by the news."
The official noted in that 2008 cable that Gibson's resignation came only days after the PLP's spokesman on foreign affairs, Fred Mitchell, sought to downplay in a media statement the liklihood of any leadership challenges at the next PLP convention.
"On the contrary, Gibson's strategically timed announcement on the eve of the anniversary of the PLP's achievement of Majority Rule in 1967 added insult to injury by upstaging the party's commemoration," the official said.
"It has also intensified questions about Christie's viability as opposition leader."
But at the party's convention in 2009, Christie crushed his opponents, winning more than 80 percent of the votes cast for party leader.
RELIEF FOR EMBATTLED FNM
The 2008 cable characterized Kenyatta Gibson's resignation as a relief for the "embattled Free National Movement".
"Striking like a thunderbolt out of a clear blue sky, news of Gibson's resignation came just in time to become the top story on evening news broadcasts and morning newspaper headlines, pushing all other current affairs aside," the official wrote.
The cable added that the media splash handed the FNM a bit of unexpected relief after months of pressure from negative crime stories and unfavorable tourism numbers, coupled with stinging opposition attacks over both.
"The FNM's presumed courtship of another MP whose allegiance to the PLP may be shaky, Malcom Adderley, may also return to center stage," the official wrote.
"Speculation about Adderley's loyalties returned to the forefront recently after Prime Minister Ingraham reappointed him to a two-year position as chairman of the Gaming Board, the sole PLP member to hold on to such a position after the May 2007 elections.
"While the urgency of such an effort might wane, the prospects for another defection cannot be ruled out."
Adderley resigned from the PLP and Parliament in early 2010, triggering the Elizabeth by-election, which was won by the PLP's Ryan Pinder.
In a recent interview with The Nassau Guardian, Christie said some of what the American diplomats attributed to him was inaccurate, and their characterization of him as weak and indecisive was also wrong.
Christie said the leak of the cables is a lesson to public officials that they need to be more disciplined in how they deal with foreign diplomats.
Christie added that he had no concerns that the cables would negatively affect him politically.
 
 
 

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