A veteran artist is pleading with the Mia Mottley administration to determine the long-promised and “desperately needed” Barbados National Art Gallery (BNAG) a reality, as she expressed frustration that successive governments have did not fulfil guarantees to the creative community.
Heather-Dawn Scott made the appeal as she expressed concern that due to the absence of a everlasting home for his or her work, artists and the quantity of labor they produce listed here are on the decline and Barbados is losing its creative people.
“It’s time, it’s past time. It’s overdue,” she told Barbados TODAY as she reiterated the importance of getting the BNAG up and running.
“We desperately need one since the collections are only sitting there at the hours of darkness and have been for tens of years . . . . The general public has paid for it through their taxes and there’ve been requests from collectors. A few of it’s in government offices and embassies abroad, but the actual fact is that the humanities listed here are in decline.
“Any serious artist seems to only want to point out abroad or leave the island altogether. So we’re getting the art creamed off. If we had a national art gallery, we could bring artists in from the region, from Africa, from South America and we will have exchanges and cross-fertilisation,” she said.
The artistic community has long advocated for a national gallery, and successive committees and boards of the BNAG have worked with governments since 2007 when the Barbados National Art Gallery Act was proclaimed to make it a reality.
Scott, who has been putting up posters at Block ‘A’ of the old Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) constructing which is BNAG’s promised home, said she was disillusioned that the art gallery has still not been built.
She contended that a purpose-built facility catering to all art forms wouldn’t only function an income generator for people and empower artists but as a foreign exchange earner for the country.
“Obviously, that may get you a special kind of tourist and put us on the map within the Caribbean as well,” Scott said, estimating that such a facility would require as much as $10 million in investment.
The artist said some private sector individuals had considered investing in an art gallery but she insisted it was “the Government’s responsibility”.
In July 2020, the keys to Block ‘A’ were handed over by the Ministry of Housing, Lands and Rural Development to the then Minister with responsibility for Culture John King.
King said that along with the constructing becoming the everlasting home of the BNAG, a piece of the Old Town Hall Constructing in Cheapside, Bridgetown can be made available for extra exhibition space.
Though giving no timeline for the opening of the power, King told Barbados TODAY in an update in August last 12 months that the plan for the new art gallery was still on the cards however it would require some “outside” funding.
“We’ve got begun the method but we’re also in search of some assistance from outside donors in order that we will modernise it greater than what was anticipated in the primary concept of it,” he said then.
The proposed constructing for the art gallery was sandblasted last 12 months but no work has been done since.
Stating that the artists that remain in Barbados have been investing their time and energy into their work with the hopes of getting a everlasting home, Scott, who trained in Britain to create sculptures, said she was prepared to proceed her protest indefinitely.
Curator Norma Springer told Barbados TODAY she too was concerned that the planned BNAG was taking too long to be established. She said it was one other avenue through which young people could create wealth.
“We don’t just wish to go and earn money and go to the supermarket and are available back home. We wish to create wealth, we wish to create generational wealth and legacies,” she declared.
“A national art gallery is long overdue. Unfortunately for us, we predict that unless we’re doing something for the tourist dem it shouldn’t be development. No other country on the earth does these items for tourists, they do it for themselves and visitors then come along to enjoy it. So, because tourism can’t calculate the economic return on the national art gallery probably means we cannot get the national art gallery thus far.”
Springer suggested that a shift in mindset was needed, as she identified that many individuals still see art as “something to do when you may’t do anything”.
She also pointed to the necessity for greater interaction between authorities and stakeholders to find out how best to go about constructing out the industry.