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Performance, art and politics (Read 15839 times)
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Performance, art and politics
Nov 16th, 2009 at 1:29am
 
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By Andre Bagoo
Sunday, November 15 2009


IT WAS British Nobel Laureate Harold Pinter who once said, “political language, as used by politicians, does not venture into (the) territory (of the artist) since the majority of politicians, on the evidence available to us, are interested not in truth but in power and in the maintenance of that power. To maintain that power it is essential that people remain in ignorance, that they live in ignorance of the truth, even the truth of their own lives. What surrounds us therefore is a vast tapestry of lies, upon which we feed.”

It was fitting this week that a whole room of politicians turned up to open what has been deemed a performing arts academy. Not all of them made it onto the giant stage at the National Academy for the Performing Arts, Port-of-Spain, but the performance of each and every one of them was stellar nonetheless.

The politicians gathered at Udecott’s “handing-over” ceremony on Monday, all pretended that they were ignorant. They acted as though they were unaware of the issues of top-level corruption at Udecott and as though this in no way taints the administration which they, as a body, comprise.

As Mrs Sherrine Hart, the wife of Udecott executive chairman Calder Hart, sat in her seat towards the front of the section of the academy’s main theatre that was reserved for the likes of President George Maxwell Richards and his wife, they looked on and clapped and smiled.

Mrs Hart has been linked to a company that has been awarded $638 million in Udecott contracts by her husband’s board. Her husband has also admitted in the Uff Commission of Inquiry that he sold his private yacht, the Ace of Hearts to the president of a Canadian company that was in line for and the recipient of Udecott contracts. The evidence at the inquiry has also pointed to the payment of hundreds of millions in advances to contractor Hafeez Karamath Limited for the $800 million Brian Lara Stadium, advances which the inquiry’s accounting expert Gerry McCaffrey has concluded involved the back-fitting of documents by Udecott staff. McCaffrey also uncovered that the majority of the steel welds first used at the stadium project in Tarouba were “effectively condemned” and had to be rectified.

Government officials present on Monday did not think it rude to break off every now and again to crack a joke while the Chinese contractor who built and designed the building spoke slowly, in the presence of the Chinese Ambassador, with the aid of an interpreter. And they ignored the corruption issues right over their heads. In fact, their security detail pushed questioning reporters away and stepped on their feet.

You see, the officials wanted to focus on the glass and steel beauty they had created; a beauty that does not compare to the real architecture they themselves have experienced the world over in their travels. Think of Sir Norman Forster’s Berlin designs, or Rem Koolhaas’ Brussels creations. Instead, they gave us a communist-inspired political convention centre, slapped on the title, ‘Performing Arts Academy’ and applauded as the corruption goes unaddressed.

We’ve got no home for Carnival, the renovation of the Little Carib Theatre has stalled due to a $2 million culture ministry budget shortfall, the Trinidad Theatre Workshop still has no proper theatre of its own and there is no home for the contemporary arts, but they applauded their care for the arts loudly. They, all of them, deserve Cacique Awards.

http://www.newsday.co.tt/commentary/0,110936.html
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