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Opportunity is understood to be an occasion or circumstance that creates the possibility for something favourable to happen. Many equate this to something of pure luck or chance and there are some who are convicted in thinking that this auspicious or favourable circumstance is deeply connected to a higher power or being.
Be that as it may, I believe that – regardless of its interpretation, it is correct to say that we all need opportunity. That is because it is a key element to success in every aspect of life, whether it is school, family, sports, or any other department.
Success isn’t possible without opportunity!
Russian-American writer and philosopher Ayn Rand perfectly summed this up when she posited, “The ladder of success is best climbed by stepping on the rungs of opportunity”.
However, unfortunately, for many of our community’s youth or more specifically, the hundreds of brilliant young minds within the creative arena of the Caribbean region; these rungs have been dislodged, slashed and made unreachable.
If we spend time to become submerged in the rich cultural diversity of the Caribbean, you will find that in the midst of the music, fashion, food, performing arts, and digital illustrations lies the undeniable impact of a young man or woman oozing creativity from their being.
But for those of us who are already aware of the impact that our young people can make and having understood the talent that we possess as a region, I ask you this, “How likely is it, for an artist in our regional community to enjoy the comfort of successful living after deciding to focus solely on his/her talents? Moreover, are these brilliant minds confident in saying that there are enough opportunities existing to help them succeed?”
Recently, I conducted a small inquiry to answer that very question; to understand the youth’s belief in a possible dichotomy between possessing a creative skill and developing a successful profession that surrounds that ability.
My sample size was small, and it included 66 participants who are nationals of Jamaica, Bahamas, Antigua, St. Eustatius (Dutch Caribbean), Guyana, Turks and Caicos, Trinidad and Tobago, Anguilla, and St. Lucia. Among them, 71.2% were within the 18-25 age range and owned capabilities in the field of performing arts, musical production, graphic design and illustration, film, photography, painting and drawing, creative writing, and the culinary arts.
During my research I asked if they believed there exists enough opportunities for creatives in their home country. 69.7% responded “No”, 21.2% responded “Yes” and the other 9.1% were unable to decided.
I also questioned whether they believe there are enough pathways for success in the wider Caribbean region. To this 40.9% responded “No”, 22.7% responded “Yes” and 36.4% indicated uncertainty.
As my research continued, I learnt that 87.9% of my respondents are totally oblivious to any avenues for creative growth that may exist within their home country or its neighbours. Unsurprisingly, a similar percentage of 86.4% claimed that they do not believe that relevant authorities are placing enough focus on the creativity industry.
Now, I want to conclude that the results from this investigation represents the thoughts of hundreds of young people existing beyond my sample size. Many won’t be approached to participate in a similar survey, but they are indicating their need for windows and doors to be opened so they can make a living with their skill.
Take a look at the unemployment numbers, take a look at the rising migration rates, take a look at the number of persons in trade institutions, take a look at where the world is going!
The future is creative and if we are to develop as a region, we must prepare the work environment for the professions of the next generation.
“ ‘D’ young people dem want ya’ll tuh”, build an accredited Caribbean art school, place more emphasis on creativity at a young educational level, introduce more ventures that demand creative skills, put regulations in place to protect creative professionals, implement exchange programs for creatives so that nationals from different Caribbean cultures may be exposed to each other and form relationships, build more studios and museums where creativity can be shared to a wider population, and create a registration system where potential clients can find talent and creatives can become registered and tax compliant.
To those who’s ears become more relevant in this conversation, we ask you to listen and act.
However, to the ever-growing body of youth I say this; while you wait on doors to be opened and avenues to be paved, strengthen your craft, and increase your wisdom so that you may carve your own path to success. You are in control of your future so, create it.
To make suggestions on a next topic, message me via Instagram @mistaming_