Feature Address – Mentoring By the Masters Award Ceremony

Mr. Tej Ramlogan, Director of Culture, Ministry of Community Development, Culture and the Arts

Other Members of the Management of the Ministry Community Development, Culture and the Arts 

The 2019 Mentors – 

Mentoring by the Masters Programme: Dr. Satnarine Balkaransingh, Nancy Herrera, Gillian Bishop, and Barbara Jenkins

Professional Development Workshops: Lisa Wickham, Christopher Cozier, and Heather Jones, 

And finally for the Cultural Legends Series: Dr. Efebo Wilkinson, Dr. LeRoy Clarke, and Dr. Carol La Chapelle,

Special mention to Wendell Manwarren and relatives and friends of the late Raymond Choo Kong, 

Our distinguished alumni of Mentors 

Other Specially Invited Guests

Members of the Media

Good Evening,

It is without a doubt that the year 2019 has been an extraordinary year for Trinidad and Tobago’s cultural landscape. 

Among the usual deliverables from the Ministry of Community Development, Culture and the Arts, we hosted the highly successful CARIFESTA XIV, reaffirming this country’s status as a premier cultural authority of the region. This ability to master the seemingly unachievable filtered into the Ministry’s flagship mentorship programme. The Mentoring by the Masters Programme, in its seventh installation, saw unique reconfigurations to its original format, which ultimately become “A year of Mentoring.” 

Eleven mentors were identified to design and execute three variations of the programme – the traditional Mentoring by the Masters series spotlighting the genres of East Indian classical dance, contemporary ballet, Jewellery design, life writing, and theatre arts; a Professional Development series focused on enhancing entrepreneurial skills in the cultural industry, and finally, a Cultural Legends Series facilitated by icons who would inspire and motivate emerging creatives to pursue their dreams. These programmes were to culminate at CARIFESTA’s Creative Zones, which afforded networking and knowledge-transfer at the regional and international levels. 

Following our call for applications and launch in May this year, approximately 150 participants signalled their vested interest in an invaluable learning experience with veterans in the sector. In mentoring the future industry leaders, I am certain that the mentors themselves became more cognisant of their responsibility to impart knowledge, thereby ensuring the continuance of cultural legacies. Everyone discovers something new…

The importance of recognizing our leaders and preserving their legacies became quite evident when we tragically lost one of Trinidad and Tobago’s brightest stars, Raymond Choo Kong. His untimely passing was a potent reminder of the fragility of life, and our need as a Ministry and Government to capture and archive the creative energies and contributions of our icons. In coping with Raymond’s loss, we saw past mentor Wendell Manwarren, as well as Elize Rostant and Abeo Jackson and others stepping forward to finish Raymond’s theatre production programme, ensuring that his vision for the programme came to fruition. 

CARIFESTA XIV came whilst this country was coping with this colossal loss, and through the Creative Zones, we celebrated creativity, facilitated collaboration, and provided opportunities for creatives to learn from each other. The products of the workshops from each of the programmes were showcased at various venues, and this engendered invigorating discussions and creative conversations among local and regional artists and cultural practitioners from all over the Caribbean.  I therefore conclude that ‘A Year of Mentoring’ was a novel concept executed with exceptional professionalism, and that this paves the way for future, similar explorations within the Ministry. 

How do I begin to express gratitude to our national icons who selflessly devoted their time and willingly dispersed their creative energies to budding professionals in the cultural sector? How does one even quantify the value of these programmes, which will inevitably lead to the continued expansion of our creative sector? There is no tangible way to truly repay these mentors for the service that they have provided to Trinidad and Tobago. Perhaps the only worthy form of recognition is for you, the mentees and graduates of these programmes, to go forth and take Trinidad and Tobago’s sector to an even higher state of existence. We have invested in your development, and we hope that in return you will use your newfound knowledge to inspire and nurture the minds of future creatives. 

To Nancy Herrera; the Late Raymond Choo Kong; Dr. Satnarine Balkaransingh; Gillian Bishop, Barbara Jenkins, Christopher Cozier, Heather Jones, Lisa Wickham , Dr. Efebo Wilkinson, Dr. LeRoy Clarke, and Dr. Carol La Chapelle , I convey a sincere thank you on behalf of all of us at the Ministry, and by extension, the people of Trinidad and Tobago. You can now add to your already illustrious portfolios, the title of “Mentor”. 

I also express a heartfelt gratitude to the Artist Registry team for yet another seamless execution of the Ministry’s flagship mentoring programme, and I am confident that you will continue to deliver exceptional projects in the future. The long hours and endless devotion to your responsibility have paid off here at tonight’s Awards Ceremony. 

I thank you and end with a testimonial by a participant of Raymond’s programme, reminding us all to awaken those positive attributes within us all: “He taught me to take ownership of my emotions, to open myself up, to live deliberately in everything I do.”

I thank you.