Cultural Voice eZine

Monday, 28 November 2011

Ja Born, Philadelphia Screened

Artfile: Claude Gayle

Graduated in 1978 from Jamaica School of Art in the Cultural Training Centre in Graphic Arts, now the Edna Manley College. When he started the campus was located on North Street.

He owns a screen printing shop focusining mainly on textile printing in the Philadelphia area.

Main customers : corporate entities, churches, clubs, fund raisers, small businesses

Been in business for 18 years: Islander Joe

Obstacles: As a Jamaican overseas the main obstacle was establishing credibility.

Solution: If you really come with the goods then they eventually recognize the ability.

He lives by the motto: you get a long way by exercising humility and patience.

Advice to young entrepreneurs: The best progress comes slowly, when you have time to consistently grow. In business, overnight success is not the goal but a sustainable approach is optimal.

It's a Circus!

 (Crique Algeria)

Cirque de Soleil is a great candidate for looking at just how to create an industry through innovation. Sure, there were localised circus troupes world wide and it wasn't a new concept. However, Cirque du Soleil managed to take a fringe phenomenon and bring it mainstream, making it very profitable for artists, organisers, host cities, suppliers... alike!

Cirque de Soleil offers artistic performances that are a unique blending of the circus and theatre. They were able to create a product within an uncontested market space, which meant no direct competitors. By standardising the model, yet allowing for a great degree of artistic freedom within this model, the result has been lower production costs and spectacular productions.

Quick Stats
  •  Seen by over 70 million people
  •  Over 40 countries
  •  Generated over US$700 million in revenues

 (Cirque Algeria)

Can you think of ways to create your own industry?

Friday, 25 November 2011

Art! It is really that serious?

Pablo Picasso's Guernica

"What do you think an artist is? An imbecile who only has eyes if he's a painter, ears if he's a musician, or a lyre in every chamber of his heart if he's a poet – or even, if he's a boxer, only some muscles? Quite the contrary, he is at the same time a political being constantly alert to the horrifying, passionate or pleasing events in the world, shaping himself completely in their image. How is it possible to be uninterested in other men and by virtue of what cold nonchalance can you detach yourself from the life that they supply so copiously? No, painting is not made to decorate apartments. It's an offensive and defensive weapon against the enemy."
 - Pablo Picasso

As artists we must recognise that we influence society. Art has always been used to transmit messages whether or not it is the intention of the artist. It is this ability for art to transcend (through poetry, music, dance, theatre, painting) realities, making them more readily accessible to our sub conscious and conscious processes of understanding, that make it so important and powerful to the development of any society. Has there ever been a society free of artistic expression?

Scene from Alvin Ailey's Revalations AAADT

We can think of many periods historically where art has lead to change. The renaissance, the black power movement, the development of Aztec and Mayan societies, the current economic growth and opening up of China (China is  now ranked as the #1 Country for Cultural Enterprises).

Throughout history the likes of Pablo Picasso, Martha Graham, Derek Walcott, Beethoven, Rex Nettleford, Silvia Plath, Bob Marley have challenged paradigms changing not only their immediate circles but also, providing the world new ideas of how to solve old problems.

The role of an artist continues to be important in weaving the fabric of societies. As we struggle to find creative ways to build tolerance and understanding in this globalised village we must examine things from the Artists' perspective and see if therein we will see truth......

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Caribbean Talk!

Florence Goldson, Belize
"Hope is an eternal fire that for me cannot be quenched"

Talking to our Caribbean Neighbours can be very insightful. I caught up with Florence Goldson (Belize) and Nalisa Maryat (St Lucia), two truly 'Caribbean' women and asked them what they thought of World Peace, Political Issues and Life...


Do you think there can be World Peace?

"i don't know, i long for it and i do my part to achieve it in my little corner of the world but i recognize how profitable war is for a powerful, wealthy few. i do not think peace will be achieved in my lifetime, however hope is an eternal fire that for me can not be i work with the hope that some future generation will know a peace that i have not known."

In Belize, what is the biggest political issue that needs to be addressed?

"for me a major issue is the rampant corruption at all levels of the public sector coupled with the absolute disregard of marginalized and vulnerable persons. because of the actions of politicians and other public officials we are living without the dignity and respect guaranteed us by both the constitution and the udhr."

Philosophy on life?

"i fully embrace a rights based approach in my interaction with others. i believe if i want to live a life of dignity and peace then i must be gentle with others hearts and i must speak out when i see injustice."


Nalisa Maryat, St. Lucia. Pic taken in Belize at the Garifuna Museum

"I believe that one must live honestly and from the heart"

Nalisa is pretty creative, she loves to dance, write periodically and she doesn't paint. She has travelled all over the Caribbean Region representing the views of St. Lucia's youth and fighting for a united Caribbean Region.

Nalisa believes that curruption and criminality in politics are some of the big headliners when it comes to problems in St. Lucia and throughout the Caribbean. She also believes that until CARICOM comes OUT of the secretariat, that there can be no Political Union amongst Caribbean Countries.

Who would you consider a Cultural Icon?

"I don't really think i have a cultural icon. Can Bob Marley or Beres Hammond pass as cultural icons?"

Beres Hammond
Beres Hammond, Pic Source: CaribPlanet
"I think Bob Marley was just a truthful voice of the people, a man who wanted peace and justice in the world. I admired his boldness, truthfulness and positivity. Beres Hammond is very talented and his music is just positive and for all times."

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Is it time for a revolution?

Dutty Bookman took time out to reason with Artistic Expressions at Manifesto JA's Festival this weekend. He spoke to us about his journey as a spiritual artist and a literary artist.

"Before you can partake in the revolution you have to be the revolution!"

I've known Dutty for at least 15 years, and it's interesting to see how he has evolved. In the 90's he was very clean cut and everyone called him Gavin or 'Hutchy'. He has maintained his charming smile and honest expressions, but his philosophy about life has changed dramatically. He now talks about revolution.

He speaks openly with us about his journey, as we sit under a Blue Mahoe Tree outside of the Edna Manley College's School of Dance, surrounded by participants of the festival, sharing insight and engaging in questions exposed after the session 'Meet the Artist' featuring the likes of Mutabaruka, Cherine Anderson & Bob Andy.

"Success comes where preparation meets opportunity”

He explains that he has had to work on himself spiritually, and physically, to ensure that he is ready to be a part of the change that he feels is already happening. Dutty tells us that most of his opportunities have happened by chance and believes strongly that success comes where preparation meets opportunity.

His Book "Tried & True, Revelations of a Rebellious Youth" will be launched 22nd November at Bookophilia in Kingston, Jamaica. Dutty tells us that he believes that we all have a form of expression, whether its the way we walk or the way we season food. His form of expression is through writing.

Dutty believes that one of the major problems facing the Caribbean Region now is that people are looking for external cues to dictate how they live their lives.
Quick Facts:
  • Started Idlerz Lounge
  • Inspired by Che Guevara's Writings
  • Co-Hosted "Reasoning" with Reggie Bell
  • Co-Founded Manifesto JA
  • Self Published Biography 'Tried & True, Revelations of a Rebellious Youth'
  • Blog


Full Interview

Friday, 18 November 2011

Jamaica to the World!

As Manifesto Jamaica launches its festival today at the Edna Manley with an amazing line-up of activities, including dance and music workshops, poetry 101, discussions about the future of the Arts movement. I think about how far Jamaica has evolved, to a great extent through the arts. Where we have failed economically, we have managed to be influencers, not with dollars but with words, songs, dance, and art.

We are still a young society, gaining independence August 6, 1962. As we move into our 50th year, we are evaluating the different ways in which we can utilize our natural creative advantage to change the inequalities and low productivity rates that now face us. The Bauxite Industry due to mismanagement in the 70s and subsequest fall off in demand is no longer a solution. We no longer own our sugar factories, and even if they now become profitable, the profits will not be truly ours. Tourism can be self destructive as the more tourists, the more strain on our natural resources unless the process is carefully managed, moreover the product is dependent on the level of disposable income of our visitors, and in recessonary times can be unstable to say the least. What we have no shortage or limitation on though is the ability to creatively innovate.
Picture from the Jamaica Gleaner,April 3rd 2010

This innovation comes in the form of new dances, at least one a week these days, or dub poetry and new dancehall tunes that are produced everyday. It comes out when the downtown streetside hairdressers compete to have the hottest hair designs for the 'session' (J'can party), or the dressmakers cut a style.  These everyday inventions form the fabric of our society and must not be belittled. This is where our social capital truly lies and this is where we can continue to distinguish ourselves, in a time when globalization is leading to homogeneous cultures. it is time to truly take advantage not only from the point of view of influencing the world, but also from an economic perspective with the creation of industries around them.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

The Voice of Patrick O'Neill NYC Comtemporary Ballet Dancer

Patrick O'Neill, dancer with the NYC based, Contemporary Ballet Company Cherylyn Lavagnino Dance took time out to share his opinions on a few things. Cultural Voice will feature every week short profiles on different artists. (When asking the questions we encourage the artistes not to think too much and to give a spur of the moment answer so we know what they really think.)

Patrick in Performance Picture by Sagitarii Photography, Cultural Fusion, 2011

Patrick was born and raised in Rochester, NY and is currently living in Brooklyn, NY.

Life Philosophy?

His philosophy on life is... "life only throws at you what it thinks you can handle. nothing less. nothing more. good things happen and bad things happen and its how you adapt and learn and thrive that makes life worth living."

When Asked about his Cultural Icons....

"hmmm cultural icons... well the gay man in me would have to say Beyonce! hahahaha! she has a vision of what she wants and then she goes out and gets it! she doesn't limit herself by thinking "gee I might not be able to do that." she thinks "I want this, so it's mine!" plus she is a crazy talented entertainer! she's the whole package."

Picture from

Patrick has others that he admires and says he likes to see the best in 'people' and that includes cultural icons so its hard for him to just pick one!

Biggest Challenge as an Artist?

"the biggest challenge I face as an artist pretty much centers around money. I need to make money in order to do what I love but doing what I love doesn't pay the bills. its hard to balance my time between dancing and working as a professional as well as being able to pay my bills on time and working a regular 9-5 job."

Quick Facts about Patrick:
  • Dancing since age 2
  • BFA in Dance from NYU's Tish School
  • Enjoys Theatre, Choreography & Voice

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Good Reviews for Night of 'Wordz' with Earl Lovelace, Pollard & Minott

Excerpts from review in The Jamaica Gleaner, Tuesday, November 15, 2011

"The Saturday evening show was shrouded in laughter generated from the words of the three featured presenters - Velma Pollard, Monica Minott and Earl Lovelace."

Earl Loveless greets guests after the reading

"Regardless of its manifestation, it usually begins with words. And words are no more beautifully presented than in songs, poetry and novel. However, it is the latter two that were the focus of Artistic Expressions Limited's third and final presentation of their calendar events. It was simply titled Wordz, a fitting conclusion and title, as the previous two events were an art exhibition and two consecutive evenings of dance dubbed 'Cultural Fusion'."

Drummers giving the call to order!
Velma Pollard - photos by Marcia Rowe
Velma Pollard Reads from Collection 'Philosophers' (Photo: Jamaica Gleaner)

Monica Minott reads 'Silencing the Stones' among other poems

Earl Lovelace reading from 'Salt' and 'Is Just a Movie"
 (Photos: Issac Barret)

"With captivating reverence, they lifted from pages their craftily, creatively intertwined words. Words that brought not only nature to life but reconstruct locations and make colourful and tragic characters loveable."

For Full Review of 'Wordz'

Sunday, 13 November 2011

The Amazon Rainforest...a paradise...but...

The Amazon Rainforest in South America has been named as one of the 7 Wonders of Nature (for full list check link 7 Wonders of Nature - World Facts) . I'm hoping that this designation will bring some attention to some of the not so wonderful aspects such as the marginalization of the indigenous peoples of the Amazon and the widespread deforestation that's robbing the world of critical resources and defences against the negative effects of climate change.

I read an interesting fact on wikipedia (yes i did wiki) about the region. On 18 January 2007, FUNAI reported that it had confirmed the presence of 67 different uncontacted tribes in Brazil. Brazil as a result, now has the largest number of uncontacted people in the world...

The Amazon region is expansive....this map gives us an idea of just how vast it is.

Source: Study by Rett A Butler

So when we think that in 6 years, between 2000 and 2006, the region lost almost 150,999 sq km (that's plenty! bigger than lots of countries), and that this rate has been increasing, there is cause for concern. The survival of many of these indigenous populations is intricately linked to the survival of the Amazon Rainforest.

As indigenous territories are destroyed, it is being reported that rainforest communities are also disappearing, or else turning to cultural war with others who are infringing on what they believe (and I believe as well) to be their rights to the forests that they have occupied.

Of course much of it is linked to economics. A very real and direct result of for example the devaluation of the Brazilian real (Brazilian currency) against the dollar is that it caused the price of beef to double in reals. This then encouraged ranchers to take advantage and to use more of the forested areas as pastures.

There are many other factors of course that result in deforestation. But the hope is that as more attention is paid to the region that they will not forget how integral the forest in its natural state is to the preservation of its many indigenous cultures.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

West Indian Novellist speaks out

The AE team had the pleasure of dinner with the award winning novelist and special guest of ‘Wordz’ Earl Lovelace, who is in Jamaica to launch his latest book ‘Is Just a Movie’ as well as to conduct workshops and book readings. We had dinner at a quaint restaurant ‘Guilt Trip’, known for its deliciously decadent desserts. It struck me in conversation with Lovelace, whose even tempered demeanour immediately put one at ease, that he had a very subtle but unmistakable sense of pride which was complemented by his strong identification with his Caribbean Heritage.

Lovelace, who writes in the genre of Caribbean Fiction, spoke longingly of the development of the region’s post colonial culture.  Lovelace spoke of the lost opportunities for harnessing the Caribbean Spirit. He spoke of days when the West Indies Cricket Team had been World Champions for 15 years consecutively. He believed that the spirit that thrived then, could have been preserved and used to inspire a new generation with the evolution of our Caribbean society.  He cited other examples and questioned the 'case of how Usain Bolt' was lending a new definition to Caribbean identity.

As appetizers were served, the discussion shifted to how this post colonial period of struggle defined a constraint to be overcome for writers in his generation, charged with the motivation to break down the boundaries that had been superimposed.

The main course brought with it conversations centered around how fast the world was evolving, and how technology was both making information more readily accessible yet widening the information gap, those unable to purchase iphones and/or access the internet left without the option of fully taking advantage of communication in the new age. Director of Artistic Expressions and poet Monica Minott agreed with Lovelace's statement that the Caribbean people need to rethink our position and accept where we are now, and utilize the social media tools now available to continue the struggle.  

We were also in the company of University of the West Indies’ Dr. Edwards known to peers as ‘Nadi’  whose animated way of expressing ideas brought even the simplest statements into a real time short film.  I believed Nadi completely when he said that the composition of a good story and/or storyteller had not changed since ancient civilization, especially as he used engaging references to lend character to our discussions. He said that he observed an information gap, finding that information already processed 50 years ago by scholars was perpetually subject to similar deductions and analysis over the course of time. This I thought could be a signal that the collective knowledge was not transcending generations effectively.

Maybe we need to rethink how we process information. Is it that we spend too much time processing and not enough time simply creating, appreciating, and transmitting what we are, who we are?  For dessert Lovelace simply had tea, of course I went straight for the triple chocolate delight ;) 

'Wordz' Sat Nov 12th, 7:00pm  Wyndham, Kingston, see you there...

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Have you met these Cultural Icons?

There are people throughout time who have managed to eclipse the ordinary, inspiring hundreds, thousands sometimes even millions of devout disciples. He/She has often done this through shifting cultural paradigms, and creatively changing the way we imagine the world. I asked Summathi, Elvis & Honore to name the Cultural Icon who most inspires......

Sumathi Shanmugam, India

Swami Vivekenanda

He is considered a key figure in the introduction of Hindu philosophies of Vedanta and Yoga to the "Western" World, mainly in America and Europe and is also credited with raising interfaith awareness, bringing Hinduism to the status of a major world religion during the end of the 19th century C.E. Vivekananda is considered to be a major force in the revival of Hinduism in modern India. He is perhaps best known for his inspiring speech beginning with "Sisters and Brothers of America", through which he introduced Hinduism at the Parliament of the World's Religions at Chicago in 1893.

Elvis Alves, Poet, Guyana/United States

Bob Marley
Painting by Basil Clayton 

My cultural icon is bob marley because he was a very talented musician and humanitarian. Bob Marley was able to put into words the plight of the oppressed and in so doing gave voice to many people not only in his homeland of Jamaica but also in Africa, the rest of the Caribbean, and worldwide.

Honore Van Ommeren, Dance Instructor & Choreographer, Suriname

Jiri Kylian

Jiri Kylian is the former Artistic Director of the Nederlands Dans Theater (NDT) 1975-1999. His thought process is a puzzle and his versatility inspiring. Everyone should get to know his work.

I can tell you that i'm learning more and more from this process. I am definitely have some homework to do.....

If you want to share your Cultural Icon with us feel free to add to the discussion....

World Peace?! You kidding me?

Juan Chong, Youth Activist, Peru

World Peace in today's world is impossible, despite all our most beloved wishes, there is still a long way to go. Cultural differences -including religion- and economic interests are the biggest obstacles to understand and care for each other. Now more than ever globalization and ICTs facilitate access to information -which favors the cultural understanding, and it may be the accelerator for the world peace we crave for. But still, economic interests will remain as a huge challenge to beat…

Jessi Shaw, Dancer, Jamaica

I doubt there can be world peace because the human race seems to be victims of greed. We are always fighting each other; constantly competing for dominance whether it be economically, politically, socially, etc. We are not fans of harmony because money and power seems so much more satisfying.

Kai Watson, Painter, Jamaica

I'd say no. Because good and bad or war and peace are the balance of one another. They have always coexisted and always will, whether on a macro or micro scale.

Samuele Vivian, Guitarist, Italy (Living in JA for 1 year)

I think there will be peace either trough a global enlightenment or human extinction. The day when every human will deeply understands J. Lennon's song Imagine, we will live in peace. Utopia, hope or maybe necessity.

Alba Aguilar Salgado, San Salvador, El Salvador

The "picture" tells us not to, but basically if everyone put in their power to change the world we would achieve much. Do not expect governments to change if people do not, we are a majority. Each depends on the management of our civilization if we are to live in harmony, peace and union.
If you have something to add to the conversation I'd love to hear it......tell us who you are...and what your take is...

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Wordz with Earl Lovelace in Kingston, Jamaica

Earl Lovelace's Novels and Plays include:

While Gods Are Falling, 1965        
The Schoolmaster, 1968
The Dragon Can't Dance, 1979
The Wine of Astonishment, 1982
Jestina's Calypso and Other Plays, 1984
The New Hardware Store, 1985
A Brief Conversion and Other Stories, 1988
Salt, 1997  
Is Just a Movie, 2011

Tickets available at Cannonball Cafe (Manor Park, Loshushan & New Kingston )

Cultural Voice

Cultural Voice is a blog by Artistic Expressions Limited.

Artistic Expressions Limited is committed to promoting the growth of the Literary Arts, Dance, Music and the Visual Arts. We believe in Cultural Exchange and try to foster intercultural dialogue and understanding.

We invite you to join the discussion.

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