If we are indeed training creative people for functional lives as creative people, then we need to urgently pursue the creation of accredited programmes being run under the aegis of the Institute of Creative Arts” – this statement was delivered by the Minister of Education, Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine during his feature address at the 2nd Convocation of the Institute of Creative Arts (ICA).
The Minister added that before the end of this year there will be a caucus of Guyana’s best and brightest minds in artistic training, curriculum development and accreditation coming together to ensure that, as soon as possible, students who pass through ICA programmes are provided with useful skills as well the certification to prove it.
Minister Roopnaraine indicated that at present, “the ICA’s institutional label is more aspirational than actual, and there remain gaps between the rhetoric of its establishment and the reality…while some of the goals set for it have been achieved, others have not.” He expressed the hope that the absence of creative writing at the Institute was one anomaly that would be soon corrected.
Another area of concern brought up by the Minister was the physical establishment of the Institute of Creative Arts. He noted that as resourceful as it might appear to have the functions of the Institute spread among four different locations, it is counterproductive to have this situation exist in perpetuity.
“Within the next two years, as part of an overall focus on the enhancement of cultural and creative industry infrastructure, I commit towards the establishment of a central location for the ICA, a campus if the resources allow for it,” Minister Roopnaraine announced. This was welcomed by loud applause from the audience which consisted of students, their families and friends and managers of the ICA.
While addressing the matter of Intellectual Property Policy Reform, Minister Roopnaraine stated that it remains absurd therefore if our legislation and general policy framework on intellectual property remains both out of date and completely ineffective.
“Just as we are required to and are in the process of creating petroleum management policy and legislation in expectation of the exploitation of our petroleum deposits, we have to prepare for the development and exploitation of our creative industries by putting in place basic policy and legislative measures,” he said.
The Minister stated that there has been no evidence offered to support the claim that intellectual property legislation would be harmful to the ‘small man’, adding an economy that places value on piracy at the expense of creative people is one that needed urgent reform.
“Failure to move forward on IP reform is a de facto institutionalization of intellectual piracy and any developing country that institutionalizes intellectual piracy is ill prepared for advancement in the information age where a premium is placed on ideas… I have committed in Parliament, to initiate concrete measures towards IP legislation within the upcoming year,” Minister Roopnaraine pinpointed.
He added that efforts towards this end could not be done under the sole responsibility of the Ministry but would also benefit from external expert advice, adequate research, technical assistance from international partners, and the committed involvement of stakeholders.
“Only, when our creative people can be assured of living in a society in which adequate protection is placed on their invaluable work can the establishment of an Institute of Creative Arts truly make sense,” the Minister cited.
Meanwhile, in his report, the Principal of the Institute of Creative Arts (ICA), Dr. James Rose explained that this is not the first institute of creative arts. In the 1970s an Institute of Creative Arts (ICA) was established as the teaching arm of the National History and Arts Council. This original institute was armed with five departments, namely Art, Dance, Drama, Music and Creative Writing. That initiative however soon folded until the present incarnation was established in 2013.
Dr. Rose announced that at the end of the 2014-15 academic year the ICA boasted a combined full time & part time enrollment of 591 – the combined graduating class of 2015 numbered 75. He explained that since the first convocation last year, graduates have gone on to provide service in the secondary school system, excelled in fine art and drama, and have launched a professional theatre company.
The ICA which includes the National School of Drama and Theatre Arts, National School of Dance, the E.R. Burrowes School of Art and the National School of Music presented certificates to the 2015 graduating class and special awards were presented to the most outstanding students in each class. The awardees included the Valedictorian Subraj Singh (NSTAD), Quacy Welcome (Dance), Mark Junor (Dance), Laron Gulliver, Margaret Cornette and Nigel Butler from the E.R. Burrowes School of Art, Jomar Knights from the National School of Music and LeTisha Chere DaSilva (NSTAD).
Aside from the students, four awardees were presented with Lifetime Achievement Awards by Prime Minister, Moses Nagamootoo: Francis Quamina Farrier (Drama), Linda Griffith (Dance), Bernadette Persaud (Visual Arts) and Mangal Raghunandan (Drumming). Also present at the ceremony was Attorney-General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Mr. Basil Williams.