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Vincentian cultural association initiated in US

Vincentian cultural  association initiated in US

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Introduction

On October 31, 2015, about 40 Vincentians participated in a successful and historic meeting organized by the St Vincent and the Grenadines Diaspora Committee of New York, Inc to facilitate the creation of a cultural association of Vincentians in the United States of America.

The cultural initiative{{more}} is a vital component of the development policy of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Diaspora Committee of New York, Inc — a policy which seeks to build Vincentian diaspora institutions in the USA in the areas of business, sports, culture, and other spheres of human endeavour.

Main presentations

The meeting was guided by the able leadership of Atiba ‘Tiba’ Williams who served as moderator of the meeting. Williams is also one of the coordinators of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Diaspora Committee’s Sub-Committee on Culture, which organized the meeting.

The participants in the meeting reflected on several themes, including: development policy and activities of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Diaspora Committee of New York, Inc; history of previous efforts to organize the Vincentian cultural arts community in the USA; perspectives of SVG’s government on the appointment of cultural ambassadors; making the case for a cultural association of Vincentians in the USA; and terms of reference for a steering committee to lead the development of the cultural association.

During the meeting, participants heard presentations from Camille English, coordinator of the sub-committee on culture of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Diaspora Committee of New York, Inc; Selmon Walters, SVG’s consul-general in the USA; Maxwell Haywood, chairperson of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Diaspora Committee of New York, Inc; Glenroy ‘Gobels’ Phillips, vice-chairperson of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Diaspora Committee of New York, Inc; Owusu Slater, member, St Vincent and the Grenadines Diaspora Committee of New York, Inc; and Sherrill-Ann Mason-Haywood, general secretary of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Diaspora Committee of New York, Inc.

The participants were entertained, edutained, and inspired by performances from Vincentian poet Carden Michael, Vincentian reggae musician Patrick Junior, Vincentian cultural icon Owusu Slater and Garifuna artistes James Lovell, and Alex Colon.

Outcomes of the meeting

The major outcome of the meeting was the creation of a steering committee which will work towards the formal establishment of the cultural association in the USA. The members of the steering committee are: Atiba ‘Tiba’ Williams, Owusu Slater, Cauldric Forbes, Busta Neverson, DesMarie Greenaway, Fransesca Sam, Peter Burke, Pure Mystics, Alex Kwabena Colon, and Maxwell Haywood.

The Steering Committee, working as part of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Diaspora Committee of New York, Inc, will seek to accomplish by January 2016 the following objectives:

1. Identify initiatives and organize a programme of activities for the first year;

2. Develop the structure of the cultural association, especially a constitution; and

3. Prepare outreach information to report back to the community

It was decided that a community meeting will be held by the end of January 2016 to officially launch the cultural association.

There was a lively discussion among the participants of the meeting. They fully supported the call for the creation of a Vincentian cultural association in the USA. The following ideas emerged from the discussion among all the participants:

o The cultural arts association should serve to pool resources to promote Vincentian artists and organizations and to avoid organizational clashes and duplication of efforts. All care must be taken to avoid “turf conflicts”.

o There is a serious problem with the absence of permanent venues or Vincentian centres owned by Vincentians in New York and other states. This is important for the growth and development of the Vincentian cultural arts in the USA. Consul-General Selmon Walters highlighted the intention of his office to, very soon, lead the process to acquire such a property in New York.

o It is critically important that more young Vincentians in the USA become involved in Vincentian culture, including the arts. Ways and means must be found to make diaspora events more attractive to young Vincentians. In this connection, it is important to integrate the young Vincentian DJs in Vincentian activities and to actively encourage them to support and play more music by Vincentian artistes.

o It is important to begin to prepare for a Vincentian cultural arts festival in Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts in 2016.

o It is very crucial for Vincentian artistes to get financial rewards for their great talent and productions. The cultural association should work to help Vincentian diaspora artistes to get contracts to do their work.

o An acknowledgement that St Vincent and the Grenadines has some of the best reggae artistes in the world living in the USA, yet these reggae artistes are not given opportunities in the Vincentian diaspora to perform, while the rest of the world shows appreciation for them. Vincentian reggae musicians are treated like outcasts by their own people who organize events in the USA.

o The need to tap into sources of grants for the arts.

o It is very important for Vincentians in the USA to promote Vincentian culture, not only to Vincentians, but to the huge population of non-Vincentians in the USA.

o A calendar of activities is urgently needed in the Vincentian diaspora in the USA.

o The right balance must be found between the commercialization of culture and the preservation of it. Both must be done simultaneously.

o The Chatoyer event in Brooklyn needs to be widely supported.

o To effectively promote and develop the cultural arts association, more ways and means must be found to reach more people in the huge Vincentian population in the USA.

o Garifuna music should be promoted by the cultural arts association. There are many Garifuna productions taking place, which the cultural arts association should help to promote.

o Much work needs to be done to improve our cultural arts productions. They should always be of a high quality, especially in the area of sound systems. A quality product is vital, therefore the Vincentian diaspora arts community should be encouraged to put its best foot forward.

o More efforts need to be put into developing Vincentian steel pan music in the USA.

Where do we go from here?

The steering committee will meet regularly until the end of January to prepare all the requirements to officially launch the cultural association of Vincentians in the United States. At that major meeting in January, an executive will be elected, and a constitution and a one-year programme of activities will be adopted.

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