Ruel Johnson has been relentlessly like a thorn in the side of Minister of Culture Frank Anthony via his missives in our dailies, lambasting both the government and moreso the Minister for being incompetent, disingenuous and other failures. He states in part: “As a national man of letters, it is not only my duty to engage in literacy activity to probe at the deeper problems which ail us, it is also my duty to actively challenge abusive authority, particularly when its leadership believe that they are above criticism as Dr Anthony clearly does.”
This came to the point where the Minister was sufficiently ruffled to declare: “The man has become my lone critic. I cannot recall any incident where I would have occasioned such hatred in this man’s heart…” He states further, “when in our midst we harbour persons of malicious spirit bent on destroying public trust and good will we must engage to restore in the public eye a sense of decency and good order.”
He refers to Mr Johnson’s missives as “irrational, malicious, divisive, distrustful and nonsensical rantings.” Quite a caustic and piercing mouthful from one who is certainly upset.
Editor, in the many issues surrounding the National Drama Festival concerning which participating members penned a letter (‘Manner in which many initiatives executed by Ministry of Culture undermine its efforts and frustrate creative community’ SN, Jan 13) of particular concern to me was the Lichas complaint: “Coming out of the festival, members of Lichas Hall discovered that an annual subvention for the hall has been in the ministry’s budget since 2008.
This would be great news if it weren’t for the fact that Lichas Hall up until very recently knew nothing of the subvention and has no record of being in receipt of the funds allocated to them…”
In the SN of January 27, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Culture Alfred King said he was not aware of any annual subvention for Lichas, that he was unaware that the Lichas facility was in receipt of funds from the ministry’s budget, and further, that if they knew about it they should have applied. But the management committee of Lichas couldn’t apply since they knew nothing of it and were never told. Mr Michael James, Secretary of the committee said they only became aware of it at the 2013 National Drama Festival Awards ceremony. In discussing this matter with him (James) he said to me that he had brought it to the attention of Dr James Rose, Director of Culture, who said he knew nothing about a subvention for Lichas.
I am told that there are a number of areas in which committees have been set up to aid/assist legitimate individuals, groups, organizations, etc, where they can access funds ‒ the arts being one. The thing is, many people have no knowledge of such and some who are aware have no know-how to access them. But the people making up those committees hardly inform anyone. I was told by someone who attended the Awards Ceremony that the remark about Lichas receiving monies came subsequent to Director of the Festival Godfrey Naughton saying that theatres out of Georgetown were not getting the kind of assistance they deserved.
And this Michael James has fully endorsed, saying that they ‒ the Lichas Committee ‒ have made several requests to the Ministry of Culture to no avail; there was never once a response.
Now if as the Minister said: “We must engage in order to restore in the public eye a sense of decency and good order,” then he must not be found wanting.