Letter to the Editor: “The Power of Art” by Pam Burnside

July 15th, 2018

Dear Editor,


I was totally shocked by the recent appointment of the new Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture! Having smiled with relief when Minister Pintard was appointed, confident that his Ministry would benefit from his firsthand knowledge and appreciation for art and culture, I must now disappointedly admit that the machination of ‘politricks’ leave me speechless!

I have no knowledge whatsoever about the newly appointed Minister’s cultural or artistic attributes and can but live in hope for a positive future in this regard, but having read comments stating that a Minister need not be proficient in any particular area in order to perform effectively at his or her job, I beg to differ. This country has been saddled with a litany of Cabinet Ministers with mostly legal backgrounds for the past several decades who have exhibited little to no knowledge of, nor appreciation for, the arts, creativity, or innovation which, I contend, are the essential design tools of development and progress.

Let me quickly state for the benefit of those persons who are ready to refute the above statement – that yes, PSs and civil servants are supposed to provide guidance and assist the Ministers along his or her unfamiliar path, but if you, as Minister, have nothing substantial to contribute towards the journey, will you not tend to be led along a similar path leading to a similar result from year to year? What then is a Minister’s role – to be an effective and efficient leader, or a mere follower? I think the former.

A leader should have a vision for a plan to move forward, upward, and onward with passion from point to point towards a goal or goals. A leader should be able to inspire and uplift, to invigorate and convince in order to effect positive change for the greater good.

Another burning question I have is: what percentage of creativity and innovation can be found amongst the rank and file of the civil service? I contend that it is woefully lacking and sorely needed. This is why artists should always be invited to sit around the government table, particularly for national development planning. I give kudos to the Minnis administration for doing so on the one hand, but remain perplexed on the other by the Minister change discussed above, as well as the sudden shifting of Dr Nicola Virgill-Rolle from leading the National Development Plan and the Over-the-Hill Redevelopment Plan to the National Insurance Board!

What can artists bring to the table, you might ask? Art is the mirror to Life. Artists thrive on creating from within the well of their emotions, being able to express their feelings in a creative way – be it in fine art, crafts, dance, music, writing, food or whatever creative endeavour. Creating follows a process of questioning and seeking answers, research and development, trial and error, continual experimentation, imagination, and innovation towards a particular goal. True, the creative might not start out with a particular end goal in mind, and often does end up with a totally different goal than first imagined, but the PROCESS – the road to get there – is the essential method of implementation that relies on being able to THINK, QUESTION, IMAGINE and CREATE. The saying ‘thinking outside the box’ has significant meaning in this context, and unfortunately is sadly lacking amongst our politicians and to our detriment.

The artist’s actions instinctively respond to a quest. Being able to garner inspiration from the simplest of items to a worldwide disaster, the artist looks at the world differently and creates products that hopefully allow the public to view, to question and to ‘feel’ the world – whether its good, its bad or its ugly side – through their creative lens, and hopefully to change for the benefit of the greater good.

Yours sincerely,

Pam Burnside