Saturday, November 7, 2009

A Few Thoughts on Arts and Networking in the Caribbean

So, if I am swinging in a hammock in the island breezes when it comes to my feelings about Climate Change, then I must be on a rollercoaster over my feelings about networking in the Caribbean for the Cultural Industries.

Caught between the overwhelming time demands of just getting my own work done to a point where I can say I have a line or two of designs to sell and the increasingly constant e-communications that deal with one form of networking or another - it’s potential, the need for it, the dangers of not embracing it…I feel on the one hand like running off to hide anywhere that doesn’t have communication with the ‘outside’ world and on the other, annoyingly excited by the potential prospects.

Ironically, some of those emails, blog posts and tweets about the potential and the need in fact originate from my own computer – whoops this is another one! I believe in the potential gains for us Caribbean Creatives of networking and I believe in the dangers of remaining insular and untrusting at the levels we have tended to operate over many years. But Gassah! The reality of dabbling in the building of networks in-between our lovely islands! What a mirage it seems sometimes. And then I start to wonder if I’m right or I’m missing the point and missing my own business in the process.

Work on establishing Caribbean Networking of Creatives is going on though, with various agencies involving themselves at some level or another. But have we made any progress at all? Have we established any connections that work? Are we just spending EU grant funds, writing reports and still not getting any networking going?

I don’t know about other islands but I know in St. Lucia, in general, many Creatives are tired of losing creative time to attending meetings and workshops that promise the world and deliver only time ill-used. I’m hoping the rest of the region is faring better and so we ‘just’ need to put our house in order…

Is it the same with the promises of ‘Networking’?

As far as I’m aware, at present there’s a CARICOM initiative for developing Creative Industries (and I think they’re relying on a regional committee to network for this), there’s the Caribbean Export Development Agency efforts, which include some regional meetings on design needs and networking, and I believe, an ongoing attempt to gather information on ‘stakeholders’ in the region. Then recently, going on right now, and OECS/EDU series of meetings designed to establish designer networks.

Are any of these working?

On a brighter note – I attended a meeting of a new organization called PACE – Professionals in Action for Creative Enterprise, now that’s a good name. Embracing all the professionals in the Cultural Industries this group aims to circumvent the normal routes of relying on government and government agencies to spearhead development and to get things going themselves.

A network set up by professionals, for professionals…will it work? Is this the route we should take if we do indeed need to pool our resources and efforts?

So, Creatives – Caribbean and Global, what do you think?

Do you want to network? If you do, who do you want to network with? And what are you hoping to get from networking?

Or do you believe we should just put our noses to the grindstone and get on with business as we know it?

Who’s having success building their business and has networking played a role in your success?

Let YOUR VOICE be heard - post a comment nuh, pleeeaassee!

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  1. I sincerely hope that the people who want to "network" with whoever, HAVE TO put their noses to the grindstone to make it work. Some people attend meetings, seminars, workshops - and that's it!! Sometimes a core of people are assembled, nominated, or whatever - and that's it!! No word or action comes from them. Horrible!! IT IS TIME that people EDUCATE themselves on what they want to achieve - or see that their networking is achieved! EDUCATION! WORK! Two key elements.

  2. True. Whatever we want to happen has to come from our own hard work; I just heard that a Bajan dance tutor who spent the last few months in St. Lucia around the communities feels that people there are getting up and doing their own thing. Maybe we're finally getting over the phase of believeing that government must hand us the solution and maybe we're beginning to see we must hand government the solution and advise them on what their role needs to be...

  3. This is great. I love to read about how different cultures and regions use networking. It really is an art, not matter where you live. I am in California, USA.
    I added it to my FB fan page too!

    Leah Oviedo