Wednesday, May 27, 2015

A musical heritage walk to the UNESCO Creative Cities Network

Sharing our National Happiness
 Musical Heritage Walk to launch Pilot UNESCO Creative Cities Network inititive in Port of Spain

They say you are never too old to learn. This week, I learnt to clap.. Here’s the three-step method of clapping:
1.       You clap as fast as you can and faster than the person next to you;
2.       You clap with your whole body;
3.       You say some pleasantries about which you are clapping.
So let’s try that and applaud all those who have brought us to this stage for the launch of this pilot musical heritage walk as part of the UNESCO Creative Cities initiative for Port of Spain - becausewe are happiest people on earth, right?

Honourable Minister of Community Development and Acting Minister of Arts and Multiculturalism, Winston Gypsy Peters - one of our veteran calypsonian and certainly part of the musical heritage of Trinidad and Tobago…. Friends in the culture fraternity; other distinguished citizens, friends all.

Isn’t it remarkable that at a time that brings out the worst in us – as election ‘silly season’ seems to do - , we can find the time and a space like this at the iconic Casablanca Steelpan Yard here in Belmont, to celebrate the best in us.
I can only begin to describe the pleasure and sense of fulfilment in being able to open this first step of Trinidad and Tobago musical walk towards engaging with the UNESCO creative cities network – and to do that here, in Belmont one of Trinidad and Tobago’s most talented, most accomplished, most diverse district - a microcosm of the people and cultural achievements of Trinidad and Tobago.
The launch today of the Musical Belmont walk is just a small first step towa
rds an incredible journey of becoming a member of a UNESCO global partnership that networks cities around the world, all representing and all sharing a common goal for developing urban areas and harnessing their cultural diversity for sustainable development.
This creative cities initiative is one of the flagship projects of the Trinidad and Tobago National Commission for UNESCO. It began with a small grant from UNESCO, to seed an initiative, but which we hope to multiply in value as only we in Trinidad and Tobago can do, and I here invite partners and sponsors to work with us and now you, the community who must now own this initiative, to moving this forward.
Author of LiTTscapes, Dr Kris Rampersad
conducts custommade LiTTour for Diplomats 
Let us look closer at two phrases that we keep hearing here today: Culture in Development and Sustainable Development: We know, do we not, what it means to do a whole lot with very little. The steelband and creative cultural heritage sect
or have been providing food and clothing, sustaining families and communities and regenerating and recycling and recreating – using the very little it gets to generate so much – that is really those words mean, so, realy, no one can teach us about that; we know what it means when we say culture drives our development, if only others recognise that and invest in this so we could do so much more.
A few years ago, Minister Gypsy and I were in Bali for a UNESCO meeting on Intangible Cultural Heritage. We witnessed first hand how culture forms the driving force of an entire nation; every industry – agriculture, textiles, tourism, arts and craft, transport, being pushed by the culture and heritage of the people of Bali who are happy with their identity so other people around the world flock to them to share in their happiness.
Don’t we consider ourselves the happiest people in the world? How can we better share that? By making the people in culture happy; by engaging other sectors to recognise the value and benefit of utilsising ourcultural resources to enhance progress and development.
Many years ago studying in Cambridge, in the UK, on a weekend getaway to the Bloomsbury James Joyce Literary Festival in Dublin Ireland which is already a UNESCO Creative City of Literature, I was awed by the limitless possibilities a city can offer to its creative practitioners! What a stimulant to business and commercial interests! What an oasis of stability and communality for citizens! For theatre groups! For restauranteurs and the food and entertainment sectors, to taxi drivers and the transport and tourism industries and for people proud of their heritage and creativity!
Dr Kris Rampersad, author of LiTTscapes
 conduct a LiTTour through Sangre Grande
 with district scouts and local government officials.
LiTtours by Request only 
For Ireland, its trolls and leprechauns, its pub culture, its Guinness, its ballads and music that extol the wonders in the story of the Irish people – all jumped to life to any wanderer, as I was, who become an active participant in the city’s creative energy and a contributor to its economic and social well being.
Needless to say, every taxi, every hotel and bed and breakfast and cottage offering homestays was full, which meant farmers could be assured of a market for their produce, cultural workers had a outlet for their talents, those feeling alienated and marginalised felt a sense of pride and belonging in the importance of being Irish. That’s what we mean when we talk of culture-centred development.
Wandering through hundreds of walks, since: sometimes with map-in-hand, sometimes randomly, through cities of Europe and Asia and Latin America and absorbing well articulated signage, or even some of the finer technologies of the new age as this QR code now offers, I knew that with only a few tweaks, how easy it could be for Trinidad and Tobago to open its cities and districts to that kind of appreciation by we, its citizens in the first instance, as well as to those who venture to wander in from outside.
I dreamed of being able to roam through the city of Port of Spain in like manner; to open up to our own citizens in the first instance, and indeed the world, our remarkable contribution to the world of cultures:  our sumptuous multicultural cuisine; our multicultural faiths; our inspiring literary heritage, and indeed our unique confluence of musical traditions which we have tuned to such finest as to make it our best.
As we dream and bring into being this creative city, the Port of Spain UNESCO Creative City of Music – nice ring to it, ent? – and as I said we have only begun the journey with this musical walk, we still have many of the nuts and bolts to put in place which requires involvements and engagement of man others -   let us stretch our imagination to how the musical heritage of this city exemplifies the full potential of all that our creativity as an island of Trinidad and Tobago represents.
What does it mean to be a UNESCO Creative City and to belong to the UNESCO Creative City Network?
It provides an opportunity to:
highlight our city’s cultural assets on a global platform
make creativity an essential element of local economic and social development
build local capacity and train local cultural actors in business skills
share knowledge across cultural clusters around the world
cultivate innovation through the exchange of know-how, experiences and best practices
promote diverse cultural products in national and international markets
create new opportunities for cooperation and partnership with other cities
exchange know-how and develop local creative industries on a global platform…

Really, it means we are on our way to join a network that would help us improve and expand on producing and enjoyment of our unique creative, cultural and heritage experiences; to spread our national happiness!
The Creative Cities Network offers access to resources and experiences to all member cities as a means to promote the development of their local creative industries, as well as and to foster worldwide cooperation for sustainable urban development.
How fitting it is, then, that Belmont is the starting point for us - this most cosmopolitan of districts; so representative of the diversity of cultures and races and colours and creative energy of our country, so connected as it is to the legendary – yes legendary - music that we have created and presented to the world in the steel pan instrument - to become the first step, a musical walk towards global celebration of the creative heritage of Trinidad and Tobago.
This musical heritage walk also encompasses recognition of national icons: as from which fertile soil has sprung some of our national pioneers and leaders: the first Preside
nt of Trinidad and Tobago: Sir Ellis Clarke and early legislator Sir Hugh Wooding. The bandleaders, pan men, musicians and singers, artists and writers and religious and sports leadership: Wayne Berkeley, Cheryl Byron, Leroy Clarke, Jason Griffith, Ken Morris, David Rudder, Kathleen Warner, Mavis John; Janet Bailey, Gerry Browne, Carlton Byer, Bryan Davis, Daniel James.
That is not an exhaustive list. I can think of, and I am sure you can too, many more and we hope we can recognise them as well…
As we begin this walk from Casablanca panyard, shortly, through to other panyards in this district Belmont Fifth Dimension and Pan Demonium Steel orchestra, let as think of how the one note they sound resonate through this city and the rest of the country, throughout the Caribbean and across the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. That exemplifies UNESCO’s vision for its creative cities network – creativity inspiring people to come together to celebrate their creative contributions to generating peace in the minds of men and women.
If we glance upward to the hotel, up there, the Trinidad Hilton the site of the first British Governor’s House we should also cast back to its significance to our first peoples.
As we wander into the area’s representation churches: Roman Catholic, Anglican and Wesleyan and the Orisha Yard of the Rada Community, in this first phase but when we cast wider to also appreciate the unique brand of religion that exemplify our multicultural faiths; our fashion, design and cuisine, - the charming architecture of Belmont, represented throughout the quaint gingerbread and ornate latticework that incorporate elements of indigeneous mud huts.
This is a first step to stimulating development of the infrastructure for the support mechanisms for the creative heritage sector and already we have here, TUCO – the Trinbago Unified Calyposonian Organisation, Pan Trinbago, the Carnival Institute, the Remember When Institute, the Government through the Ministries of Education, the Ministry of Arts and Multiculturalism. Let us work now to make this a network; to grow linkages and ties; to understand the interconnections between the activities of all sectors.
From this spot, let us envision our creative city statehood that encompasses the eco system of creative music of Trinidad and Tobago, encompassing and embracing the creators, the recording industry, the technologies and the network that connects the rest of the city of Port of Spain, other suburban districts and the city center – from the Beetham to St James and surrounding districts too….
Creative cities are driven by the districts, and localised government, the city council and national government and other community partners including public/private sectors, professional organizations, civil societies, cultural institutions, business organisations, churches, schools, and all in between.
Thanks to the enormous effort of all those who have brought us to this stage, from within the National Commission, the Ministry, the community organisations and most importantly the people of these communities.
What a walk towards national harmony, national respect, national recognition and appreciation we are initiating here! Let us make the dream real and let us dream of unreeling this in other dimensions to other communities and districts and indeed the wider world.
I invite you to join us in this creative musical heritage walk through Belmont and work with us to advance our trip to UNESCO Creative City status and I thank you all for being here to participate in this memorable momentous launch.

Open Remarks by Dr Kris Rampersad
Chair of the National Commission for UNESCO

and Trinidad and Tobago Representative on the UNESCO Executive Board, at Launch of Musical Heritage Walk of Belmont. March 26, 2015, Casablanca Steel Orchestra Pan Theatre, Belmont, Port of Spain

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Thursday, May 21, 2015

How to Lasso the Information Beast Emailgate, the Cybercrime Bill

Legislating rights and responsibilities, privacy and freedoms in the age of information:
The Ongoing circus....

How to Lasso the Information Beast Emailgate, the Cybercrime Bill and Legislating rights and responsibilities, privacy and freedoms in the age of information

The ongoing circus surrounding what the media has dramatically dubbed emailgate is reason enough to take a second look at the proposed Cybercrime Bill 2014, though not only for the reasons being touted by parts of the media fraternity.
The #CybercrimeBill has far reaching effects and impacts for a range of stakeholders, if not virtually everyone who uses a #computer or indeed #smartphone, and requires a more targeted approach to achieve the Bill’s purported primary purpose “to provide for the creation of offences related to cybercrime and for other related matters in Trinidad and Tobago.”
The reality is that the impact of the Bill will not be limited to #TrinidadAndTobago just as the information and communication technologies cannot be confined to borders. Solutions to the challenges the bill attempts to address have to encompass this understanding. It is a reality to which the proposed Bill seems oblivious.
Within what are measures to impact a USD400 billion #illicit #global #industry of trading in ill-gotten information and an attempt to secure an environment that challenges all curtailment, should also be measures for a small island country like Trinidad and Tobago as a member of the Caribbean community, to secure its environment as far as is possible. There is much yet to be done towards leveraging the technologies towards achieving this, whether at national or regional levels.
The unfolding #emailgate circus is only but a clear indication of the high level of confusion and ignorance among public offices and officials who should be better advised and informed, about matters concerning the #internet, #security, #privacy, #rights, #responsibilities and #civilliberties – all of which the Cybercrime Bill impact on - much beyond the few clauses identified by the media in its focus for concerns surrounding the Bill.
This is far beyond claims of vindication and accusations, that the emailgate fiasco has netted which threatens to hold hostage the entire governance system – #Government and #Opposition as well as the Constitutional watchdogs in the office of the #DirectorOfPublicProsecution and the #IntegrityCommission, the #judiciary and #law fraternity, the police and the #fourth estate, the #media. That only hints at the wide ranging implications of internet-related issues of which we have only brushed the surface. There is all the more reason for a closer eye on this Bill.
Clearly, in this #informationage, it is not business as usual in treating with public information and the rights, roles and responsibilities of #State and other institutions, agencies and individuals, as it is not business as usual in treating with #governance, #elections, #partypolitics, the law, #crime and #criminality, #information and #communication and the persons and institutions charged with guarding our #democracy.
Several of the clauses in the Bill have far reaching implications, many of them yet unexplored, for indeed the national community, other than the media and the ones singled out as victims of #internetabuse, #sexualabuse, unauthorised use of information and the like. The Bill has implications for the information and communication technology industry, #business sector and #employers; #employees, #technicians, #engineers, #researchers, #scientists, and every citizen who uses and will use online communications and technologies. It therefore requires a radically different approach that takes into consideration the impact on each user community rather than the current broadbrush one of trying to be all things to all persons being attempted by the Bill.
That wkements of the Bill’s language are also already archaic even as it is being piloted speak to the volatile and dynamic environment in which the Bill is meant to function and which ought to contain flexibility to ensure continued relevance in the face of such dynamism.
Why hasn’t the media more adequately explored the Bill and its implications beyond how it directly impacts on the journalism profession one may ask – a direct indication of the gaps in education and awareness that have to be bridged among members of the media themselves on how to treat with the internet and matters of internet security, privacy and rights and responsibilities of the public and of the media. An informed media generates an informed public. Perhaps much in the emailgate circus could have been arrested if public institutions were better informed by a more mature media and a more discerning public.
It is a position I have consistently maintained, even as a former member of the now somewhat-in-abeyance #MediaComplaintsCouncil (#MCC) , which was created as a watchdog over the media watchdogs and guide on media related issues, albeit with an archaic code of practice and underdeveloped self-regulating mechanisms. It hardly embrace the new media environment and the kinds of challenges that have surfaced with the internet that strike at core and fundamental practices of  convention #journalism and media. The media industry has to hold itself up to scrutiny as much as it holds others to the same.
The nature of the internet and the infectious information and communication environment it has spawned – explosive is a mild term – and the #revolution it is creating in the way we do business, interact with each other, how we communicate, even how we eat and conduct other daily habits, is not only novel to us. Other societies, even more technologically advanced ones, are grappling with its magnificence and its monstrosity. We have seen the uproar #JulianAssange’s #WikiLeaks caused (Now a major motion picture!), and #EdwardSnowden in sharing NSA data and the recent #Sony expose of 2014.
The cyber environment has also brought sharply into focus the role and responsibilities of media and #mediaworkers, when almost every man woman and most children can have immediate access to his/her personal mass multimedia studio. It is putting pressure on all to devise workable solutions in shifting expectations of governance, politicians, the law and its officers, the media and citizens. It is demanding sharper focus on responsibilities as it has in relation to rights of providing security and guarding privacy in the face of hard won #freedoms of expression and #access to information.
The need for societies to strive for balance between public rights to information and rights to privacy is an age old one. It has evolved to various laws and instruments to guard freedom of the media and journalist; as well as exemption laws that protect the rights of citizens to privacy against intrusiveness of the media has been well aired following what is believed to be the paparazzi-driven death of #PrincessDiana. 
As a maturing democracy, Trinidad and Tobago will be well served, as will serve the global community itself struggling to find and maintain that balance between rights and responsibilities; privacy and the right to know against overwhelming odds, to evolve a Cybercrime Bill that benefits from an understanding and appreciation of the nature of the beast it is trying to lasso.

Dr Kris Rampersad is an independent international development media and cultural heritage consultant:
Email visit blog: Demokrissy: Website: 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Experiencing the Art in a State of the Art Museum and Art Gallery

"What is currently the home of the National Museum and Art Gallery has, as a building, outgrown its walls and its floors. So we are looking to a state of the art building or system of buildings that can house what we are also trying to currently define as the National Collection... and  to chronicle, document and interpret events and experience"

Experiencing the Art in State of the Art
Opening Remarks, Chair, National Museum and Art Gallery, Dr Kris Rampersad
Symposium on the Exhibition by LeRoy Clark, May 19, National Academy for the Performing Arts, Port of Spain

Happy International Museum Day!
Thank you for that invocation for reminding us that we are a part of something larger that came before us and that we ourselves come from something larger in our ancestry.
It has been a distinct honour that one of the first acts of the new Board of the National Museum and Art Gallery (NMAG) was to host this phenomenal exhibition of Chief Ifa Oje Won Yomi Abiodun—Master Artist, Le Roy Clarke EYE...HAYTI...CRIES...EVERYWHERE...
The breadth and depth of artistic vision are as much in each individual piece as in the collective of some 105 drawings in black and white which encapsulate and exude the spirit, resilience and potential of the civilisation and people who inspire, even with their tears, in Clarke’s symbolic Hayti. That is the overpowering sense when you enter the art gallery - that Hayti is all around us, and we are in it! Everywhere. That is the singular power that this exhibition: EYE...HAYTI...CRIES...EVERYWHERE...exudes.
I hope you have all had the opportunity to not just view but experience the exhibition before coming here – and if you haven’t yet, it is still open at the National Museum and Art gallery for another month.
It is in this context that I invite you to listen to the presentations and participate in the discussions that will follow. We. You Me all of us are not isolated or insulated from all of it. We are very much a part, participant, player and protagonist as we are audience, recipient and receptacle. This is a symposium about everywhere, as much as it is about the here and the now, and the actual country, our neighbour Haiti, that inspire it.
As we speak, we are confronting the tragedies of humanity that bring us to despair, to tears. I do not have to list them. They are personal and they are national and they are universal. That you are here means you must feel some of it, and want to impact upon it. And it is that eternal resilience to search out, to quest and to question and in doing so to transcend that this exhibition also celebrates.
At a time when the arts is the first – the first – to feel the axe of funding cuts and budget and other adjustments, we are trying to make the National Museum and Art Gallery into a state of the art institution. But what is state of the art? Which art? Whose art? It is a phrase often used loosely without thinking of what it really means:
The standard definition of state of the art is: the most recent stage in the development of something incorporating the newest ideas and features. Newness, innovation, and technology feature in every definition, but what of history, heritage, legacy? What of art?
Where is the place for art in state of the art?
It is indeed a reflection that seems apt standing here in a building like this that houses the National Performance Art Academy. Is this state of the art? Isn’t that a discussion, a dialogue, we should have had a long time ago, and is somewhat long due: the conversation between the centuries old building next door, known as the Royal Victoria Institute and headquarters of the National Museum and Art Gallery, and this ultra modern state of the art one here? And isn’t there a dialogue and conversation that should be happening between our institution next door, and institutions like this one, the University of Trinidad and Tobago and the other one up the road, the University of the West Indies.
Where is the art in state of the art?
When we talk of a state of the art, we at the National Museum and Art Gallery envision an institution that is aptly fulfilling its role in all the dimensions and expectations such an institution is supposed to offer. It is a building yes – but it is not just a building. We are well aware that what is currently the home of the National Museum and Art Gallery has, as a building, outgrown its walls and its floors. So we are looking to a state of the art building or system of buildings that can house what we are also trying to currently define as the National Collection. And we hope that can be equipped with the latest technologies and equipment and devices that define the modern age.
But that would be nothing, a void, like the echoes that emanate from the cries within Clarke’s drawings, if we do not also fill that building/those buildings with events and occasions like these: to reflect, to interrogate, to elucidate, to educate on the state of the art, the state of our art, and the state that we are in as a people, the role of the State and the role of the people in the state of the art. We welcome partnerships in this so we can have more of these, more engagement, more interaction, more discussion, articulation, interrogation so we could better understand ourselves and this place we call our society, and our world.
It allows us an opportunity to remind ourselves, and others, of the role of the arts: to chronicle, document and interpret events and experience; to bring people closer together to understand each other: to promote cross cultural understanding because art reaches out from canvas and makes the looker-on, the onlooker – a participant. Isn’t that true of the exhibition next door? It encourages us to find creative solutions to challenging situations which we are here to do at this symposium.
To me, ultimately, art, all art, is not techniques and buildings and technology but experience. Through it an artist expresses an experience that he or she often cannot even fathom – his/her experience of an emotion or thought; and through it we participate in an experience that may be larger and inaccessible to us in our daily lives.
As we reflect on, discuss, debate, project and contemplate the artist’s work here, examine and scrutinise where it came from, what it has become, where it will go; where we have come from, what we have become, where are we going as a people, let us also reflect on the state of the art: The state of the art that a Museum and Art Gallery represents, should represent.
And I invite you to join us in helping to take it there. It is a cry, my cry, for all of us to recognise that perhaps we would not have so many tears if we had such an institution that could hold together all the fraying and flaying strands of our society and from its chaos create the kind of art we see in the exhibition: EYE...HAYTI...CRIES...EVERYWHERE...
I thank you for taking the time and effort to be a part of this; and the University of Trinidad and Tobago and the Ministry of National Diversity and Social Integration for partnering; Legacy House for inspiring us and I look forward to the presentations and your partnership and collaboration as we move forward towards better appreciation of the state of the art. We appreciate and welcome your understanding of this as a collective responsibility as we move to form alliances and partnerships that would help us fullfil the esoteric and exoteric place a museum assumes in the lives of citizens.
We invite you to join us in forging opportunities for our National Museum and Art Gallery to grow in stature as a place to explore and interrogate ourselves as much as it is to celebrate and transform the worst in and of us into the best of us, so that we too become state of the art.
I thank you.
Dr Kris Rampersad
Chair, National Museum and Art Gallery.

Monday, May 18, 2015

ACP conference aims to boost media coverage of rural agri - Stabroek News

ACP conference aims to boost media coverage of rural agri - Stabroek News

ACP conference aims to boost media coverage of rural agri

By Alva Solomon in Brussels, Belgium
Over 150 officials and journalists from African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries have gathered in Brussels, Belgium for a conference that aims to bridge the gap between agriculture development in rural areas and coverage of this sector by media.
The conference, which is being held under the theme ’The Role of the media in Agricultural and Rural Development of ACP countries’, commenced on Monday with a briefing session for participants at the European Commission building at the Borschette Centre in Brussels.
The gathering is part of the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) 25th anniversary celebrations and aims to bridge the gap between agriculture development in rural areas by reaching target audiences in ACP countries via the mainstream media. Participants hail from more than 40 ACP countries.
In his remarks at the opening briefing, Ian Barber of the European Union emphasized the importance of the media in the various democracies. He said that the media acts as a watchdog and gatekeeper, ensuring that presentations by democratic governments are important to all areas of governance.
Former CNN news anchor Tumi Makgabo (left) chats with Trinidadian media consultant Dr Krishendaye Rampersaud.
Former CNN news anchor Tumi Makgabo (left) chats with Trinidadian media consultant Dr Krishendaye Rampersaud.
CTA director, Hansjorg Neun said that the media strengthens and collaborates within the confines of good governance. He stated that this year’s conference intends to provide answers to the question; “why do we only read about agricultural issues when there are natural disasters such as tsunamis, food crises, flooding”. Neun emphasized the need for the media to provide coverage to agricultural issues; its potential and success stories, noting that agriculture needs to be urgently boosted to feed some nine billion people worldwide by 2015.
According to the CTA head, while most governments and private entities are investing in agriculture, there is also a simultaneous need for such entities to invest in media and communication. He said that most media houses /journalists are not specialists where coverage of agricultural matters is concerned. In this light, he pointed out that the CTA has undertaken several strategies to ensure that key messages are conveyed on agricultural issues; making agriculture a better, more appealing theme where journalism is concerned.
Among the reasons highlighted for agriculture issues receiving little recognition within the mainstream media were poor infrastructure within media houses, lack of equipment, lack of education on agriculture activities on the part of journalists and poor output resulting out of the latter. Recommendations brought to the fore within the first session on Monday were the need for improved skills where journalists are concerned; improved relationships between government agencies and the media; as well as the recognition of the important roles technology plays within the field, the latter being highlighted as advanced in the Caribbean as compared to Africa and parts of the Pacific.
Trinidad and Tobago’s Dr Krishendaye Rampersad – one of several Caricom representatives attending the conference, stated that there is an urgent need for investment in training to develop the sector. She said that on the part of the agriculture sector, officials there should also think of how the agency can strengthen itself where media relations are concerned.
Ignatius Jean, the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) representative based in Guyana told participants that there have been moves to improve relations between the mainstream media and the agriculture sector within Caricom. According to the former St Lucia government minister, “we love and hate the media but we can’t live without them”.  He noted that it is important for partnerships to be a part of the media/agriculture development relationship. The agriculture official said the media has a symbiotic relationship with democracy, noting that it plays a powerful role as an agent for change in some societies.
Among the points raised at Monday’s session, which was moderated in part by former CNN news anchor Tumi Makgabo and Trinidad’s Dr Eugenia Springer, were the communication strategies used by various players within the mainstream media; the need for skills development of journalists; and access to more readily available information. Gender issues regarding cultural or personal issues preventing women in some societies from playing a part was also discussed.
Most participants at the conference are from the African continent while the Caribbean is represented by media houses from Jamaica, Barbados, Belize, Suriname and Haiti. The Caricom Secretariat is also participating while Guyana is represented by Stabroek News and Prime News.


 Former CNN news anchor Tumi Makgabo (left) chats with Trinidadian media consultant Dr Krishendaye Rampersad.

Towards A State of the Art Museum for Trinidad and Tobago Statement #InternationalMuseumDay

Statement by the Chair, National Museum and Art Gallery
Dr Kris Rampersad
On the occasion of International Museum Day, May 18, 2015

The theme allows us to reconsider the role of museums and what is needed to reposition ours to become a key driver of social and economic transformation through enhancing and protecting cultural diversity, natural history, sharing conservation of ecosystems and biodiversity and expanding economic bases of income and employment generation.It is time we begin thinking of creating, investing and budgeting for a state of the art museum for Trinidad and Tobago. Our heritage has certainly outgrown the walls of the existing Royal Victoria Institute on upper Frederick Street in Port of Spain, established as a museum of science and natural history in 1892.
While the Royal Victoria Institute building remains iconic to our history and heritage and indeed as the headquarters of our national museum system, it has insufficient space to accommodate the rich array of national heritage.
As we move to develop a satellite of associated museums that embraces The Museum of the City of Port of Spain, Fort San Andreas in South Quay, and engage with community museums, a state of the art museum will allow for the kind of walk-in exhibition spaces, interactive engagement, digital displays that modern publics expect of an institution bearing the title of national museum. For this we also require enhanced training and capacity building of human resources as well as substantial investments that demonstrate recognition for the inherent value that will accrue towards strengthening heritage as an industry and provide spin off advantages of social inclusion and aligned social, economic and political stability.
This NMAG Board is committed to advanceing understanding and appreciation of a museum as the catalyst of the cultural heritage sector, with a substantive place in economic diversification, employment and generation . A museum as a facility which through its displays researches, interprets and represent a society is crucial to conveying national identity, as it is in educating, interacting and engaging not just national and international population, provoking and interrogating as well as articulating, refining and pointing to points of progress.As we prepare for the 2015 General Elections, it might be prudent for political parties contending for leadership of Trinidad and Tobago over the next five years to include proposals to harness and leverage the heritage of Trinidad and Tobago in their manifestos and hustings’ proclamation so as to enhance the timbre of debate and build awareness among the population to meet expectations for a more substantial development agenda.We look forward to partnering with the corporate and industrial sectors as well as among NGOs and academia to help build and develop the National Museum and Art Gallery into an institution in which Trinidad and Tobago, its diaspora and indeed the global community can take pride and we look forward to welcoming you to the displays at the Royal Victoria InstituteWith Warmest Wishes for a Happy Museum Day
Dr Kris Rampersad
Chair, National Museum and Art Gallery.
Photo Above: Chair of the National Museum and Art Gallery, Dr Kris Rampersad (right) meets with staff of the National Museum and Art Gallery and engage in discussions on improving the delivery of services at the Museum. Photo courtesy Rubadiri Victor, NMAG board member.

Photo: Dr Kris Rampersad, Chair of the National Museum and Art Gallery assisted by lifecoach Philip Rochford leads a retreat of the Board of the National Museum and Art Gallery at the conference room of the National Botanic Garden The new board met to plan vision, mission and strategic directions for NMAG. Photo Courtesy Dr Marsha Pearce.

New Review LiTTscapes in Commonwealth Journal from Editor, Financial Times, London:  

Time for state of art museum happy day

National visioning to understand role of muse for sustainable societies tune in CNMG interview as Chair National Museum and Art Gallery cable channel 6 this morning 730 @krisramp @lolleaves @glocalpot #Demokrissy #glocalknowledgepot

Saturday, May 9, 2015

LiTTscapes celebrated in Commonwealth Journal by Editor Financial Times

A Lovingly Produced Text...
LiTTscapes has captivated the Editor of the Financial Times, Martin Mulligan, writing in the Commonwealth Journal of International Affairs, in this review of the its Landscapes of Fiction from Trinidad and Tobago by Kris Rampersad,  published by Taylor and Francis online....

Sir Walter Raleigh, V. S. Naipaul, Derek Walcott and C. L. R. James are richly celebrated in these pages, only a handful of the most famous names from a galaxy of internationally recognised authors who have drawn their inspiration from this remarkable setting and culture. ‘Literature is the landscape that lies over my desk; landscape is the literature that lies over this earth’. That observation of the Chinese scholar Zhang Chao applies forcefully to this splendid and lovingly produced text.
Click Here for more about:  LiTTscapes and LiTTours and LiTTevents: 

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Small only in size Trinidad and Tobago Executive Board Representative gives UNESCO a perspective on Small Island Developing States

Our capacities and incapacities as small island states characterise our potential to or not to fully participate as sovereign independent states on equal footing in global development - Kris Rampersad, Trinidad and Tobago Representative UNESCO Executive Board 

Trinidad and Tobago Representative to UNESCO Executive Board,
Dr Kris Rampersad
April 14, 2015, UNESCO, PARIS.

Mr Chairman  Mr Mohamed Sameh Amr;  Honourable Director General, Madame Irina Bokova; Dr. Hao Ping President of the General Assembly,  Colleagues.
I bring greetings behalf of the Government and People of Trinidad and Tobago, who congratulate Madame Director General for her stewardship of UNESCO in these most times of crisis and transitions.

We support the statements of GRULAC and my precedent speakers of the Caribbean. Mr Chair, while they have been general, allow me to be specific, because the nature of the issues surrounding small island developing states remain specific to our localised realities, even as they may be global issues. Our capacities and incapacities as small island states characterise our potential to or not to fully participate as sovereign independent states on equal footing in global development and we hope UNESCO is guided by this reality in all is activities. In this regard we support the SIDS resolution for articulation of a clearly resourced actions to correct this imbalance, including addressing the deficiencies in statistical analysis that plague our region – and to that I hope we can draw on the services of the UNESCO Institute of Statistics.
The Trinidad and Tobago which I represent is genetically continental carrying within it the flora, fauna and geology of continental America having broken off with the last ice age. One oldest known humanoid skeleton of the hemisphere was found in South Trinidad – one of our best kept secrets. But not a secret is that our Pitch Lake has paved tarmacs of roads and airports across the globe.
We are physically some 21 small islands, to be exact, the southernmost of Caribbean islands on the edge of the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ridge.
Economically we hover in a categorisation somewhere between developed and developing world that does not take into account many of the challenges that exist within the context of size and inadequacies of capacity.
Culturally we are a global amalgamation of cultures and colours from indigeneous peoples to various migrant streams from Europe in the middle of the last century and the labour push that brought African as slaves, Indians, Chinese, Syrians and Lebanese as indentured labourers preceding the current free movement of labour, that caused the late Nelson Mandela on a visit to see a rainbow nation.
This is an example of what we are referencing in the too simplistic term, Small Island Developing States, which hardly captures the internal complexities and challenges we face so as to make the policies and programmes we are trying to devise at this level effective and relevant.
We are small only as islands in size: the first oil well was drilled in Trinidad. We have given the world the only known musical instrument invented in the last century in the steelpan; and genres of music known as calypso, soca and chutney; no less than two Nobel Laureates for Literature in Sir Vidia Naipaul and Derek Walcott and we have inscribed on the Memory of the World registers authors as Samuel Selvon, Anson Gonzales, and Larry Constantine and our first Prime Minister, Dr Eric Williams. Also part of our Memory of the World inscriptions include registers of the migration of slaves and indentured Indian labour. We are children of both the slave and silk routes. Our poets and calypsonians do not sing of our oceans and seas as scientific specimens of currents and tides that churn up tsunamis and other natural disasters, nor as passageways to economic prosperity. Our ocean, the Atlantic, and the Caribbean Sea, are extensions of our cultural selves, repositories of the cruel history of the Atlantic Slave Trade, the Middle Passage, Slave Route and Indentured Indian Labour Routes, that are bridge those painful memories and legacies in building resilient and inclusive albeit diverse societies
Through the National Commission of UNESCO which I now Chair, we will in July this year launch a researched publication that highlights UNESCO’s presence in Trinidad and Tobago for the last 50 years to collaborate UNESCO’s 70th anniversary celebrations. In July last year, before UNESCO paid its own tribute in October, we initiated Mandela Day celebrations – in collaboration with a committee established by the Prime Minister  - with a rally to capture the spirit and energy and inspire our youth in the “Mandela Effect”.
Our National Commission also embarked on interventions on youths at risk, school bullying. Inspired by your 10,000 Principals Leadership programme, Madame Director General, we initiated a Leading for Literacy and Decade for Literacy in 2012, driving change through reorienting school leadership and will tomorrow launch phase two of this. At the same time, riding on its success, we launched a Leading with Numeracy initiative.
Chair, colleagues, I have detailed some of these to say that even small islands we can boast of great achievements,  the challenges loom larger because of our size and because if we were furnished with capacities we can only do more. We challenge the statistical analyses that assign an economic categorisation based on narrow economic parameters that do not take into consideration the challenges of small island developing states. We thank colleagues for this support of initiatives that recognise the peculiar challenges of small island states as ours and to recognise and take and support steps that will help redress this through the UNESCO Institute of Statistics.
In this regard, we commend UNESCO on its publication of the 2014 report – nice and glossy and well illustrated and easy reading to highlight our age of crisis and transitions. We recognise that in this period of transitions that opportunities can easily become crises and of particular concern for us, is also the crisis that technologies pose to entrench underdevelopment because of lack of capacities, in some of our societies.
And we agree, Director General, that it is a time in which UNESCO becomes most relevant. In being able to shape the macro agenda, to meet the needs of the microscopic communities; to iron out the kinks and straighten the skews in the developmental agenda that has seen the large gaps in meeting the last Millennium Development Goals.
And it is because in these crises and transitions that UNESCO must assert its role and its place in the post 2015 Development agenda: in relation to the Oceans with which it is charged and to recognise their importance, relevance and significance to not just science but also to the cultural beings of citizens who cling to their shores and depend on them for livelihoods.
We commit to working with UNESCO to review and revise programmes and actions to become relevant to communities we serve. I make particular reference to the cultural initiatives that have been conducted in the Caribbean region through UNESCO with assistance from the Governments of Japan and the Netherlands in relation to enhancing our region’s access to the culture conventions, and the general work on the Action Plans for coming years for the Latin American region. In all of these we have made specific interventions on the realities of the regionl; that the one size fits all approach, adopted by some of the mechanisms and advisory bodies are not relevant and in an era of transition when sustainable development implies the ability to strike a balance between feeding citizens as much as conservation, the approach in many instances are punitive and are not sustainable for our region and we hope we can work together to iron out some of these kinks.
In an era where lifelong learning must become unlearning, lifelong modes and mechanisms for the new technologies that are evolving and placing considerable stress on governance and social management systems that see outbursts in crisis of interface between generations, escalate problems of youth at risk, school violence and bullying and other social negatives
Information and communication technologies offer opportunities to hitherto marginalised communities to shape the global development agenda, building ours into knowledge societies and also in deepening our democracies.
T he new environment of information and technologies is indeed fraught with pitfalls but it also allow for the promotion of freedoms of expressions and transparency and good governance and we can utilise these opportunities to share the good examples of consensus and building a culture of peace we ourselves practice in this room.
Chair, we heard your lament on the failure of mainstream media to give due attention to UNESCO’s work and your earlier invitation to enhance such visibility through our own use of social media. Madame Director General, indeed, we cannot leave our phone on silent. We have to hear and share the call for UNESCO’s relevance across the globe and throughout our communities.
By sharing these experiences and showing how we find ways of unravelling sometimes convoluted global issues, not just in the results, but in the processes with which we engage, we on the Executive Board can make ourselves more relevant in demonstrating our commitment to transparency in our governance issue by promoting use of the information technologies at our fingertips.
May I suggest that the Executive Board take advantage of the opportunities offered by new media to enhance its visibility as well as share this culture of UNESCO to promote transparency and open government, that we led by example and explore and take advantage of the many opportunities that the new media environment offers , as it puts the power of media access in the hands of every individual, to use the tools ourselves to make our presence felt, enhance our own visibility. Just as UNESCO has launched its own communication policy to enhance visibility of UNESCO, may I suggest that we revisit our own operational guidelines and regulations to accommodate this new environment of transitions; that allow for addressing crises with engagement, and through openness and transparency allow for leadership by example.
In this, especially as UNESCO is only UN agency charged with promoting freedom of expression, we become the change we want to be, a sustainable part of the global sustainable agenda.
I thank you.
Dr Kris Rampersad,
April 14, 2015, UNESCO Paris