The second conference in the ‘Sustainable Communities: Creativity and Policy in the Transnational Caribbean’ series took place on December 3-4, 2013 at Iniva, London. This conference brought together participants from the Caribbean and its diaspora who are involved in the arts and influential creative initiatives, including founding director of FRESH MILK Annalee Davis, and highlighted social, historical and financial challenges that they face in trying to nurture healthy artistic communities in the region. Charl Landvreugd reports from the conference exclusively for ARC Magazine.
As the mark of success in art seems to be related to public engagement, establishing links through existing spaces to broaden local audiences on artistic, critical and financial levels is paramount. Part of this can be achieved through carefully archiving Caribbean lived experience. As an example of this, Joy Gregory started/is starting up a residency in the former house of fashion designer Trevor Owens in Jamaica, providing a way into understanding this experience. At the same time, according to Therese Hadchity, the local and historical context is being transcended by artists like Sheena Rose, Ewan Atkinson and Alicia Alleyne, and is being picked up in other parts of the world. A new hybrid globalised subject is emerging with mixed sensibilities. Jynell Osborne made this clear by speaking about diversity in heritage and how this affects social and political issues in a country like Guyana. “We have to recognise where cultures come together and where they stay apart in Guyana, and by extension in the Caribbean. Part of building a strong society is building a strong culture that is sustainable.” Tying back to the production of a critical discourse, this seems to be done more by writers than visual artists in smaller countries. Why is that?
One thing that the speakers and audience agreed on was Petrona Morisson’s sentiment that the Caribbean and its diaspora should not repeat patterns of exclusion in our effort to build a sustainable art community. Annalee Davis’ presentation on the initiative Fresh Milk is seen as one of the ways in which talent can be nurtured in our own geographical space. She made a case for the fourth sector model of social economy in light of the lack of funds, creating wealth by means of nurturing creative talent within the region. This, the panel agreed, is a revolutionary act. By first working within the local space and sustaining creative process, expansion to include all of the region is anticipated. The question of an understandable art language for everybody may be a consequence of this way of working. What the impact of this will be outside and inside of academia can only be imagined at this point. Who defines and critiques history, and is history in the way of the future? This was asked by Ozkan Golpinar when he explained the way decisions on funding are being made in the West.
Read the full article on ARC Magazine here.