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1,000 moments of beauty

By Rubadiri Victor

So I had one of those "message dreams"… The dream calls for me to work with artists and creative citizens (without Government involvement) to manifest 1,000 moments of Beauty all over Trinidad and Tobago — especially in abandoned lots and derelict buildings...

I'll be working with my group, the Artists' Coalition of Trinidad and Tobago (ACTT) to coordinate this with artists, NGOs, communities, and citizens over the next three months, culminating with 'The Week of the 1,000 Moments' beginning March 20, 2013 — the vernal equinox, Easter.

Who knows where works of art and inspiration come from? Michelangelo, principal artist of the Renaissance, said he saw the statue of David within the raw marble. His duty was to possess the skill to emancipate it. Shadow — Wizard King — sang of hearing the sound of Farrell — "the Bassman from Hell" — in his head, inspiring him to craft a new music. I myself hear songs sung to me in dreams by Shadow himself! I recorded some, now on compilations world over…

Sitting Bull — brilliant Native American leader — stared into the sun and saw the pattern of dead white soldiers on a plain... then crafted the strategy to defeat General Custer at the battle of Little Big Horn…

I had my dream the Mayan New Year morning. "I dream it straight," as they say. So I must deliver…

What's a moment of beauty? In the dream the answer came — "it is what it is not". It's not moments of ugliness… and it is important to make that clear in this town… These moments can take any form: performances of Paul Keens Douglas's work (the dream example); art installations; murals; short plays; a masked ball; a concert; films projected on school walls at night; a re-creation of Hasely Crawford's gold medal-winning run… I'm figuring out how all this is to materialise with integrity. Meanwhile I've started a Facebook group called "1,000 Moments of Beauty". Interested people can join. Let's discuss.

On a similar note I was watching the 2012 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony. I feel every politician in Trinidad should see it — especially the ministers of trade and planning, so they can get a clue. This year Guns N Roses, the Beastie Boys, the Faces, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers were inducted. A greater bunch of misfits and reprobates it is harder to conjure up. Drug users, petty criminals, two of the bands have had multiple deaths to drug overdoses!... Collectively the bands sold over 150 million albums, spawned dozens of number ones, and sold out tours of millions of people…

These guys are not worth billions because of some super company called "USA Creative Industries Company" run by their version of Derek Chin and Joe Pires and micro-managed by doppelgangers like Vasant Bharath and Bhoe Tewarie. They make billions because all around them is something called an "industry". That "industry" is made up of magical things like: policies which understand the creative industries are a significant contributor to America's GDP; institutions like schools of art, museums and royalty collection agencies; facilitative legislation at federal and state level; and fiscal tools like subsidies and venture capital. The billion-dollar worth of those druggies is not because the Chili Peppers are more "businesslike", "responsible" and "entrepreneurial" than SuperBlue, Orange Sky, and Shadow. It's because America is run by leaders who have a clue!

"Industry" is made up of a facilitative web of policies and institutions which is a government's job to weave. We have a multi-billion dollar oil and gas industry because our governments invested billions and created that facilitative environment. But they're refusing to do a fraction of this for the arts — the second largest industry on Planet Earth!

Once again I'm demanding the Government reinstate the 129 line items it immorally removed from this year's budget in the March 2013 budget draw-down. Do your job. Build the facilitative environment. Then get out the way! We want the $50 million set aside for the projects in the 2011/12 budget with firm schedules and deliverables as per our original timetables.

Politicians, watch the Hall of Fame induction. Watch those drug-addicted geniuses rock out. Think of others you know — Elvis, Michael Jackson, Fleetwood Mac, Beethoven, Marley… Then think of our steelbandsmen and all our seemingly lost boys. Imagine, without private and public sector intervention they spread 300 Trini-styled carnivals worldwide that are worth over $15 billion. Imagine if you'd actually built an industry around them!…

The clue to these billion-dollar vagabound geniuses at the heart of pop culture is one thing. Respect. America fundamentally respects their genius as artists. Unfortunately our political and commercial elites have a profound disrespect for our artists, their craft, and communities. We at ACTT believe that implementing the 129 line items can add $4 billion annually to our economy in four years… We demand that the Government reinstate the line items by March. We citizens will handle the other 999 moments of beauty…

* Rubadiri Victor is a

cultural activist

* Keith Subero returns

next week.

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