What's the plan?

Art enthusiast calls for structured development of creative industries

BY RICHARD JOHNSON
Observer senior reporter
johnsonr@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, December 16, 2018

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Independent art curator Gilou Bauer is calling for a comprehensive, multi-pronged approach to the development of the arts here in Jamaica. For the former curator of the Mutual Gallery, which was located in the corporate Area until it closed its doors in 2013, there needs to be a coming together of the minds to develop a master plan for the arts in Jamaica.

In an interview with the Jamaica Observer, Bauer noted that this plan needs to cover all areas of the arts —music, dance, theatre, film and the visual arts, establishing a framework for development and progress in all the cited areas. Her comments came in light of what she sees as a downturn in the local visual art scene and the inability to give young artists the desired platform to showcase their talent.

“Unfortunately, exhibitions which give greater exposure to the work of our young artists have decreased significantly. There are more many galleries around, so the space to exhibit work has become extremely limited. The National Gallery exists, but there is only so much work that it can do, it is just one entity, and its mandate is more preservation rather than opening up to exhibitions and shows.”

“We need another National Gallery of something of its kind. We are losing so many of our young artists, as they are leaving our shores, going abroad and you really can't blame them as the pace is much too slow here in Jamaica for them to showcase their work. The bad this is that once they leave, there is very little possibility of seeing their work here in Jamaica. What we need is a partnership with the Government and sponsors to come up with a solution,” Bauer added.

This suggestion of a private-public partnership to develop the visual arts, is what she said needs to be expanded into a master plan for the arts and creative industries here in Jamaica.

According to Bauer, Jamaica needs to take a look at the Cuban model of development where the arts and culture is concerned and adopts and adapts to suit out particular circumstances.

“Jamaican culture has not been given the attention it requires. We need to come up with that master plan where the arts in general can be developed to its full potential. Cuba has done that and there is a thriving cultural economy in that country, we can do the same. It will take input from the players in the creative community, government and the private sector, but it can happen,” said Bauer.

She said efforts and initiatives such as those being organised by local group Kingston Creative, must be part of this plan to inject life into all areas of the arts.

Kingston Creative is an organisation with a vision of making Kingston being the creative capital of the Caribbean by engaging key stakeholders in the art community, government, academia, and the private sector around the vision of a creative Kingston. Among the events they have staged is Artwalk and Market Street, which draws visual and performing artists into the downtown Kingston area.

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