BDoT – Why you no like Bermudians?

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,

Screen Shot of the Day

Screen Shot of the Day

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.

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! 
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7 responses to “BDoT – Why you no like Bermudians?

  1. Good stuff Krys…I get the sense that BdoT cannot be successfully pitched by locals for this kind of work but its articles like these that will help in changing this state of affairs…

    • kulcha! April 26, 2013 at 5:39 pm · Edit · Reply →
      Dear Ayo,

      Thanks for taking the time to comment! 🙂 As you see in my post, I completely respect that reach is the predominate concern for the BDoT, by nature of the game. But I acknowledged this in the post – by involving local writers, BDoT could have facilitated networking opportunities. Local writers could have co-written copy. They could have leveraged this opportunity to have local writers publish pieces for international blogs on authentic Bermudian culture. The opportunity was missed.

      The fact is, BDoT is way out of touch with authentic culture and also with their sources at home. Tourism suffers when you fly in foreigners for a few days, give them a bizarre schedule that keeps them out of touch with the best of real Bermudian culture, and send them home again. The copy reeks of superficialty. And let’s never forget the whole fiasco where they used pictures of Hawaii as their images for an international campaign.

  2. what about the fact that local artists (most of the time) have to leave to “unbud” … to return …

    • We wouldn’t have to if we were supported at home. In fact, it might be preferable to stay. I attended a very prestigious arts school in Chicago, and dropped out to come home. Why? I care about Bermuda, and no matter how good the school was, at the end of the day my audience is here at home.

  3. To be fair…one would also have to demonstrate that you have the reach into the markets that BdoT is interested in…

  4. “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, 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.”

    Thank you for saying.

    It is categorically messed up. It kind of goes to show what BDoT is all about – nothing, right? Everything is a shiny performance, nothing is real. And we (Bermudians) lose out. Right now it’s a few bloggers, next it will be decisions made about Bermuda’s hotels, restaurants, spaces etc, without even attempting to consult Bermudians. Like, are we even a stakeholder? What are we bringing the tourists here for??

    • “Everything is a shiny performance.”

      People are ready for substance. In a time of recession, we’re greatly invested in taking care of our own. Every member of the civil service is employe…making their situation fundamentally different from the 4/10 young people that are unemployed (low estimate) and the tons of artists that are working outside of their field and/or struggling. So, they’re up in the ivory tower and we’re hundreds of feet below them.

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