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August 21, 2007



BTW, The Sidney Poitier movie is my best movie next to To Sir With Love. I couldn't agree more. I enjoy talking to family members as old as 80+ about Andros and life there. How long it took to sail from Fresh Creek to Nassau, etc., etc.. We have forgotten a lot since the late 60's. It's almost like we are not proud of what made us Bahamian. Why do we not celebrate our past. And I'm not talking about the over-used, over-exposed celebration of Junkanoo.

Bob Knaus

The poor have plenty of time for culture, because when you're poor your time isn't worth much so why not spend it on culture once your have enough to eat and a place to sleep?

The well-off have plenty of time for culture, because when you're well-off it doesn't take much time to pay for enough to eat and a place to sleep so why not spend the rest of your time on culture?

It's the people making the leap from poor to well-off who don't have time for culture. Every hour they spend on culture is an hour they could spend bettering their financial situation.

True, in leaping for the brass ring, they may leave their culture behind. Hopefully something as rich and rewarding as what they left behind awaits them, once they finally reach their goal.

Or perhaps, a few of the old-timers will stay in their islands of poverty, and when the brass-ringers have done leaping, they will sell them the old culture at new prices.

larry smith

Is culture dispensable?

A common definition of culture is: the customs, arts, social institutions and achievements of a particular nation - so how can it be dispensable?

Presumably, you are asking why Bahamian art, drama, literature, dance and music are so undervalued and ignored in popular society these days.

But don't we have the fish fry? A Bahamian culinary experience (if you can overlook the garbage). And don't we have the multi-million-dollar, taxpayer-funded, rat-infested flea market? And don't we have the publicly-funded National Art Gallery?

You should know whether music, dance and art have been removed from our schools. Has it been replaced with Junkanoo? Isn't that our mono-culture?

We do subsidise casinos, as we also subsidise the flea market and Junkanoo and the art gallery. What else should we subsidise, and what is the rationale for doing so?

What is your prescription for using 'culture' to combat our social ills?

And if the political directorate, our financial resources and the social elite were not up to staging
a mini-Olympics like Carifesta, whose fault is it?

Why is there such a disinterest in, and disconnect with, authentic Bahamian cultural expressions? And what should, or could, be done to change that?


Larry, Bob, whomever,

Culture is neither dispensible nor something that the middle classes can afford to discard because they "choose" to leave their culture behind. The biggest lie ever told is that we should choose to invest in anything else other than our culture. Investing in our culture is investing in ourselves -- something that we in The Bahamas don't do. (These days, for some inexplicable reason, our governments prefer to get foreign people to do that investment for us. Excuse me while I roll on the floor laughing.)

Investment in culture, in ourselves, has the capacity to pay off faster than almost any other, in strictly economic terms; no other business I know of has the ability to make a profit, if managed right, in so short a time. (Our theatre production company has always broken even, starting from zero funds and ending up with some money in the bank at the end of a run or of a production.) In business terms, investing in culture is a risk; but it's a risk that pays off faster than most. The quicker we learn that and separate it from our prejudices against culture as an expense we can do without, the better.

Why are we disconnected with authentic Bahamian cultural expressions? Because we believe the lie that our culture is dispensible. What we do about it, from the building of institutions that all real nations have (like libraries or theatres or schools or art) to the creation of an economy that sells our best selves, rather than our sand and our sea and somebody else's gambling parlours, is a matter of will, not ability. As long as we all choose oblivion over what we have/who we are as a nation, we lose -- in social terms, in criminal terms, in medical terms, and in economic terms.

I could go on, but I won't. This article about London's revenue from the Notting Hill Carnival is instructive.


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