C&AL: What is your perception of the cultural and artistic sector in the Caribbean?
SG: The Caribbean is a diverse region that is referred to as the West Indies, the Greater Antilles, the Lesser Antilles, the Windward Islands and the Leeward Islands. Colonized by the British, French, Spanish, and Dutch, our creolized region has been impacted by the genocide of indigenous peoples, and the aftermath of the colonial project, while struggling as one of the most indebted places in the world, dependent on the fickleness of the tourism sector.
Our perceptions of the arts are shaped by the lens of this history and by our perspective from the Global South. Only some Caribbean nations have museums and art galleries, and the sector is experiencing high levels of emigration. Artists and artist-led initiatives are ahead of state agencies that struggle to understand the value of the cultural sector outside of models such as the so-called Orange Economy (Creative Economy), which seek return on investment while ignoring the need to invest in artists.
We are also aware of the impact of the Caribbean on the diaspora and its influence in the north. The Windrush generation, for example, has shaped post-imperial Britain. Notions of the plantation scene are debated in relation to climate collapse, while thinkers such as Édouard Glissant and Antonio Benítez-Rojo have become dominant references for curators working globally. The 2021 São Paulo Biennial was inspired by Glissant’s concept of relation, while the 2023 Sharjah Biennial, influenced by Okwui Enwezor, explores processes of creolization, hybridization and decolonization – notions that the region has been articulating internally for decades. The Caribbean is expanding.
C&AL: What kind of funding is available, and which genres are in the spotlight?
SG: The interesting action is happening outside of formal institutions. The festival economy, including carnivals and the music sector, tends to be in the spotlight as genres that generate income and large audiences more easily. Again, depending on where you are in the Caribbean, funding structures vary.