long work days, exhaustion and a non-existent support structure on a daily. It’s not impossible, but it is damned difficult to write, paint, or produce prolifically when your highly-productive hours are spent doing things that pay the bills. Second, this was a missed opportunity for Govt. to support the local arts. Some ideas, BDoT: if you must hire foreign writers for their reach, pairing local writers with foreign writers could have been a networking opportunity for the local creative community and a money-saving investment for you. Why not have local writers co-write the pieces? Show the bloggers around, let them get a feel for local life? Third, Bermuda Department of Tourism and the DCI (Department of Communication and Information) should be working much more closely (or effectively) with the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs to have local people create copy, content, and images for foreign – and local- distribution. And above all else, local talent must be paid – and well – when this happens, instead of continually asking locals to write, take photos, sing, think, and create for free.
The greatest enemy to local art is the cost of living and Government apathy.
In 2010, the Govt slashed the budget for the Cultural Heritage Fund from $200,000 in 2010-2011 to $58,000 for 2012-2013. That’s 29% of what it was two years ago, or a 71% reduction in funds. Meanwhile, the Government brings 18 bloggers to Bermuda to write our culture. As a cultural observer, arts advocate, and aspiring professional (read: paid) writer myself, I’m more than irked. Primarily, because three things seem obvious to me:
One, as “guests of the Department of Tourism,” these bloggers likely received housing, transport, food, and other perks. Meanwhile local artists are battling high costs of living,
At the end of the day, when local artists earn our living working in banks, insurance companies, hotels, and restaurants – doing anything else except practicing and publishing our craft – the quality and quantity of local art suffers. This has a cyclical effect: because many local artists aren’t producing work of sufficient quantity or quality, it’s easy to dismiss local artists as unprofessional or untested.
Please excuse any errors; I’d love to edit this post, but I need to go to work and make a living. I would have loved to include what I liked about BDoT’s initiative, but local artists aren’t getting paid, you know, to make art.
*Tues. May 28 Editor’s Note: Thanks to Karriem Sharrieff who pointed out a typing error that affected my calculations. In the original post, I gave the figures 200,000 and $50,000. The 2012-13 figure is actually $58,000, leaving the calculation accurate. Check my math though! Writers aren’t exactly known for our statistical prowess!