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Monday, May 08, 2006 

New programme for communities coming
Web Posted - Mon May 08 2006
The Community Art Career Programme has been integrated into a broader programme, to be introduced by the Ministry of Social Transformation through the Community Development Department, during this fiscal year.

Word of this has come from Minister of Social Transformation, Trevor Prescod, as he delivered the feature address at the graduation ceremony for the Community Art Career Programme at the Sherbourne Conference Centre, on Saturday evening. In addition, he said that in the not too distant future, the programme would be expanded to include Christ Church when the St. Christopher Resource Centre is opened; at present, it is conducted to the Speightstown and Grazettes Resources Centres.

According to the minister, the new programme to be called the Community Enterprise, Empowerment and Divestment Programme is aimed at improving and strengthening human development initiatives at the community level, as well as facilitating community participation in national development.

In addition, he explained, the programme would be geared towards promoting economic enfranchisement, capitalising on available human skills, talents and innovation at the community level, as well as encouraging the development of a co-operative spirit within the community.

He further explained that the programme is intended to develop social capital, support safe and stable communities and create self-help mechanisms through new enterprise methodologies that would financially empower groups and individuals from low-income communities.

As such, he stated that an important element of this initiative is that it allows for participatory governance and the sustainable development of livelihoods at the community level.

He said that since its inception, the Community Art Career Programme has opened up a number of opportunities to its participants, 70 per cent of whom are males, with several of them having found employment working with graphic and design companies, while others have set-up their own businesses. Likewise, he said, many students have been able to gain entry into the Barbados Community College to further their studies or have been able to gain entry to art colleges overseas.

"For many years, art as a cultural expression was seen as the fort of the elite and a privileged reserved for the rich, who had a surplus cash to purchase their preferred pieces of artwork. However, this programme has contributed to the broadening appreciation of art as an aesthetic endeavour, and, at the same time, has demonstrated its functionality as a life skill," he added.

Unfortunately, he said, our education tradition has belittled the power and significance of the Arts, not fully understanding their value to community and education. But, he maintained, there is a lot to be learnt from educating the imagination and developing the spirit of inquiry, which, he said, guides and informs the creative process.

"We have drifted into a culture that fragments our thoughts, that detaches the world from the self and the self from the community. We have gained control of our environment but have lost our artistic edge," he lamented.
Minister Prescod said that his ministry will facilitate the building of creative communities and creative people, and he further contended that it is time that we admit the fact that Art is a study of reality and that the arts and culture are important elements of our community life.

Barbados Advocate ©2000

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