Guyana in dire need of proper National Gallery of Arts

Dear Editor,

I was recently moved to notice another benefit being given to Youth and Sports from the very Ministry which also has to do with Culture, especially that of Visual Arts. Altogether, Youth and Sports has received a cinder track, an Olympic-size swimming pool, a Karate and Hockey court, and now, a Football Stadium is in the works. All this while the Centre for Visual Arts – Castellani House/The National Gallery of Art, which is housed in an ancient wooden building that has in effect no installed fire prevention, and can display at a time less than one twentieth of the National Collection, gets nothing. There are many Guyanese who will never see the entire National Collection, which is housed in two locked storage rooms. It is clear to me that there has been and continues to be a vast imbalance in the management of Culture, Youth and Sports.

Seems that the visual arts did much better when it was run solely by a Department of Culture. The British ran things at the time, but it must be that when they departed the country they took the appreciation and understanding of visual arts with them. That statement also says, logically, that the said ministry may have on its slate too many departments to effectively deal with. So it keeps itself busy with placing precedence on the activity it knows best—that of youth and sports. Castellani House was supposed to temporarily house the nucleus of a National Collection, and so it is unbelievable that the then designated National Gallery remains in its distant past stature of non-advancement: It has no vehicle to move works of art to and from exhibition sites, and at most times their telephone service is inoperable. Many are waiting to witness when something important and substantial is actually done for Culture and Visual Arts, in the stature of a proper National Gallery of the Arts, especially.

The open astute consensus is that someone in the current Administra-tion should come to realize the importance of visual arts in society, and its role in the cultural aspect of a country’s history. Guyana is in dire need of a proper National Gallery of the Arts of which the citizens can be proud. Haiti, regarded as the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere has a National Gallery, and so does every other country everywhere.

The Minister of Culture, Youth, and Sports has recently emphasized he is on his way to building an interpersonal relationship with youth, and especially athletes. He said he will afford them his highest commitment in making it a certainty that they are ably supported in all their future endeavours. He says he wants to meet with them, to and recognize them. I look, and see not their coat of many colours.

I see the fact that the act of playing favourites when dealing with groups of people does nothing but to create dissatisfaction and in time, dissension, by the neglected. When will this Minister meet with cultural people and assure them he wants to meet, know, and recognize them, and will ably support their endeavours? Such an act would certainly be a huge win with no apologies or regrets to the Ministry, and to the country. Espe-cially in a nation of one people, with one destiny. All citizens, and especially youths, need to share in the creative experience of the country. We short-change the future of our society when we refuse citizens the opportunity of being a part of local visual creativity during their educational years. The time has come when Visual Arts should be advanced from its back seat status and given the recognition it rightfully deserves.

Yours faithfully,

Jorge Bowenforbes

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