Formal Opening of the Handicraft Symposium
Dr. the Honourable Nyan Gadsby-Dolly,
Minister of Community Development, Culture and the Arts
“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” These are very apt words written by Viktor E. Frankl in his book Man’s Search for Meaning. Since mid-2014 our country continues to be challenged with the effects of the negative economic impact of the sharp fall in oil and gas prices as well as the decline in the production of both crude oil and natural gas. This is new paradigm is therefore forcing Trinidad and Tobago to diversify its sources of income. It is this Government’s belief that our creative industry and for the purposes of today the handicraft industry, is one such source that can help bring change to our current economic situation on both a micro and macro level.
The Handicraft Industry plays a vivacious role in representing the culture, traditions and heritage of our country. It is a substantial medium to preserve rich traditional art, heritage and culture, traditional skills and talents which are associated with our lifestyle and history. Since this sector is labour intensive, it can provide employment opportunities, enhance living standards thereby making a more positive impact on economic development of the state. It can also be a viable medium for foreign earnings.
When we looked at countries such as Colombia and India, the handicraft industry has been successful in contributing to the economic growth and development of those countries. According to a World Intellectual Property online Magazine article entitled Arts and Crafts Columbia, close to one million people in Colombia earn a living directly or indirectly from the country’s vibrant arts and crafts sector. A significant contributor to the national economy, the sector counts some 350,000 artisans, approximately 60 percent of whom are from rural and indigenous areas.
Download PDF for full speech