FREEPORT, Grand Bahama – Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Works and Urban Development, the Hon. Philip Davis said Bahamians should be the creators, custodians and purveyors of their culture.
The Member of Parliament for Cat Island, Rum Cay and San Salvador was the featured speaker at the official opening of the Grand Bahama Arts and Craft Centre, Thursday, February 4.
He told the large audience assembled that it is their solemn duty to stop any further erosion of the Bahamian cultural heritage and expressions.
The Deputy Prime Minister noted that the opening of the Centre represents a great step in the advancement of opportunity for the people of Grand Bahama. He said that it is critical that the nation begins to extract more value from all sectors of the society.
“When we consider what the annual visitor spends on arts and craft in The Bahamas, which by the way is in excess of $100 million annually, the magnitude of this opportunity and the impact of this facility begin to crystallise in a tangible way.
“For many years I have heralded the cause of Artisans in The Bahamas, and now the time has come for you in Grand Bahama to embrace what is rightfully your opportunity, to tell our story and uplift our culture through arts and craft,” Deputy Prime Minister Davis said.
He told the gathering that he was excited to see the full expression of Bahamian culture on display in the Centre; and moreover, the systematic approach to the selection of artisans whose arts and crafts will be sold in the Centre is encouraging.
The Deputy Prime Minister also said that he was pleased to hear that arrangements have been made for tour operators to bring visitors to the facility as a part of their tour itinerary.
“This will augur well for the Centre as it is anticipated that the steady stream of customers will be exposed to the finest arts and crafts offered on Grand Bahama,” he said.
Deputy Prime Minister Davis also noted that besides the retail section of the Centre, the Art Gallery will feature paintings resplendent with local vistas and sculptures depicting the flora and fauna which reside on Grand Bahama Island.
He pointed out that the Gallery will also act as an event space, and it is anticipated that small receptions and the like be hosted there, bringing yet another source of potential customers.
For those visitors who are more curious of mind, the Production Room of the Centre will give them a firsthand view of how the artisans make their craft.
“The Bahamas must put itself in a better position of efficiency and competitiveness in order to maximise its potential in a very tough and keenly competitive global environment,” The Deputy Prime Minister said.
He also pointed out that the edifice, which is situated on some two acres of land on East Sunrise Highway and Alcester Road, would not have happened without the participation of the Grand Bahama Port Authority.
“The opening of this Arts and Crafts Centre represents progress towards import substitution in the handicraft sector. Bahamians out to be the creators, custodians and purveyors of our culture,” the Deputy Prime Minister said.