The National Cultural Foundation (NCF) has been tasked with bringing awareness to the day of national significance and this year is expected to be bigger than ever before. The NCF’s Chief Cultural Officer, Andrea Wells made this announcement on June 28th at the organisation’s West Terrace headquarters.
This extensive campaign includes various types of media produced by the Foundation’s Cultural Development Department that will serve to reach as many people as possible. These include a radio drama and comic series, a documentary, a resource booklet and an outdoor painting workshop. “We determined that the best way to spread the message widely was to develop resources and tools that can be used in and beyond our educational programmes as well as at the community level,” Wells explained.
She revealed that the NCF is producing a five part documentary series in collaboration with the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). NCF’s Film Commissioner, Annette Nias elaborated, Film is the one medium that is intended to live on forever. “The main objective is to feature not only the social conditions that prevailed at the time of the 1937 disturbances but also to give public presence to the memories and contributions of ordinary folk that were connected directly with the riots.” Nias added, it will feature interviews with historians and performances by local creatives and it is expected to be both entertaining and historically accurate.
Wells also gave an update to the How Hard the Times radio and comic series encouraging those interested to keep checking the NCF’s website for new episodes. NCF Cultural Officer, Literary Arts, Ayesha Gibson-Gill added to that saying, “It is about engaging people with history and heritage through thearts, highlighting the consequences and benefits of historical actions.”
Michelle Cox, the writer of the original How Hard the Times play expressed her satisfaction with the adaptation, “When I saw the graphic work for the comic I was blown away… I’m speechless and that doesn’t happen very often.” She went on to say that it was heartwarming to know that her and her father’s work was now going to be given new life that would allow it to travel much further than the play or poems ever could.
Additionally, Andrea Wells conveyed her satisfaction with the creativity of the En Plein Air workshop this year, which is also part of the celebrations. The 1937 riots have been merged very creatively with this outdoor painting workshop a staple of the Cultural Development’s Visual Arts desk manned by the Cultural Officer for Visual Arts, Rodney Ifill.
Ifill said that the workshop had received record breaking numbers this year with some 55 people signing up to take part. It features an onsite historical context on the 1937 disturbances with Historian Trevor Marshall, before moving into the outdoor painting sessions facilitated by artists Neville Legall, Ras Ishi Butcher and Kwame Hunte. He explained that the tour will take place in several scenic and historic locations around Barbados relevant to these 1937 disturbances, wrapping up at Martins Bay on July 13th.
Wells also discussed a resource booklet developed by Janelle Mitchell that is expected to be publicly available in the next three weeks. The booklet will feature easy activities to teach children about the story of the riots in both digital and physical form.