Islas Creativas, British Council, Cuba

Adolfo Mesa

The British Council in partnership with the University of the West Indies (UWI) will be implementing CATALYST, a three-day ideas lab workshop from the 13-15 June at the UWI St. Augustine Campus in Trinidad and Tobago. The workshop aims to harmonise cultural activity in the region, by highlighting the cultural, scientific and social dimensions of co-operation between the European Union (EU) and the Caribbean.

Including 37 key policymakers and speakers, creative practitioners, festival organisers, academics, representatives from donor agencies, independent consultants, and others speakers, the project Catalyst identifies the need to enhance the common vision between the EU and the Caribbean through sharing research, activities and learning from best-practices. Through the voice of the practitioner, there will be an opportunity to analyse the efficiency of international donor agencies.

“It is envisaged that CATALYST will provide an opportunity to get high-level decision-makers, funders and creatives in the same space to discuss how funding and technical assistance actually affect their work in the creative ecology. This information will then be used to hone a more coordinated, inclusive and evidence-based approach to the sector’s development. The UWI looks forward to collaborating with international agencies such as the British Council, regional actors and cultural practitioners in the service of converting this most important of regional assets into real developmental energy,” shares Dr Suzanne Burke, Lecturer in Cultural Studies at the UWI, St. Augustine Campus.  

Echoing similar sentiments is Simon Dancey, Global Director for Cultural Skills at the British Council. “I am delighted to be part of CATALYST; a key opportunity to unite cultural activity in the Caribbean. This ideas lab gives us the much-needed chance to identify and consolidate the common vision between the EU and the Caribbean, encouraging a dialogue around the cultural, scientific and social dimensions of the relationship. We will do this through the voice of the practitioner, by sharing invaluable research and activities.”

Other outputs of this unique workshop include: addressing cultural policy issues in the Caribbean and contributing to better working values, analysing strategies in the field of culture, evaluating grant strategies in the field of cultural co-operation, identifying the transformation of the paradigms of cultural policy, and stimulating dialogue between the cultural and funding sector. 

CATALYST delegates
CATALYST delegates ©

Vishala Jabar

Marina Salandy Brown

Marina Salandy Brown

CATALYST- Harmonising Actions in the Caribbean Creative Ecology

On Day 1, the first Roundtable was a conversation moderated by Annalee Davis with creative practitioners and activists who have shifted the cultural landscape through their work or have been beneficiaries of funding and technical assistance from the international/regional organisations and agencies. Participants included Holly Bynoe (National Art Gallery of the Bahamas); Marcel Pinas (Tembe Art Studio, Suriname); Marina Salandy Brown (BOCAS Lit Festival T&amp); Marvin George (Jouvay Ayiti, Trinidad & Tobago | Jamaica) and Sean Leonard of (Alice Yard, Trinidad & Tobago).

Each of the five panelists was invited to focus their presentation on the key factors that make their work successful and share their organisation's philosophy, funding strategies, something about their collaborators, and the impact on the socio/cultural landscape. Here, Marina Salandy shares her presentation on the NGC Bocas Lit Fest.


Marina Salandy-Brown is the founder of the NGC Bocas Lit Fest. With a background in UK publishing and BBC prize-winning programme making and senior management, always dedicated to the development of culture and the arts, she introduced a series of initiatives that have helped revitalise the world of Caribbean literature.  She is a Newsday columnist, and a former Executive Director of the TT film festival and consultant to FilmTT. She is a member of the British Council Arts Advisory Committee and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. 

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