Ethics

Conflict of Interest

Submitted by Wayne Cadogan

Submitted by Wayne Cadogan

Today I finally got the opportunity to go and view the NCF Crop Over Visual Arts Festival 2016 held at the Central Bank of Barbados. I was disappointed in the number of pieces on show compared to last year, the quality of some of the pieces, the absence of many of big name artistes. I am a collector of art and was accompanied by my best friend who happens to be one of the biggest art collectors on the island, he was also terribly disappointed.

Among the pieces on show, I was very impressed with a couple of the paintings, unfortunately, only one of those pieces was among the selections recognized. I was very disappointed in the painting that won the top award this year in comparison to three or four of the other paintings on show. Yes the artist’s theme for the painting was excellent, but a lot of the perspectives in the painting were off, especially with the hands and feet.

As I recall, this same artist won last year and I had some issues as well as many of the other artists. All the artists are mumbling and grumbling under their breath, as usual that is a Bajan thing, grumble and be afraid to speak out. In the mean while the problem remains. As I see it, and others, this artist in question is employed by the NCF in some form as an art tutor. If this is the case, it is a conflict of interest and the artist should not have been allowed to enter the competition and vie for any of the awards. The NCF could have allowed him to exhibit his work as a guest artist but not as a competitor.

From all the grumbling among the artist, I now understand why there is drop off in the number of artist entering the competition over the years and the big names not coming forward to enter? Also, one could see why a number of up and coming artist, who you would want to enter, not coming forward, because of this conflict of interest. One would think that the objective of such a competition would be to encourage and inspire artist to get involved in the arts and provide that outlet for their work to be seen.

As I recall, the previous two years, the person that won the award for the Best Sculpture also worked for the NCF, which was another case of conflict of interest. I guess that either common sense or conscience probably stop that artist from competing this year.

One has to question why the NCF would allow these persons to enter the competition. It is widely known that companies here and worldwide do not allow their employees or their families to enter any competition that they have for the general public. Right away, the other artists that are participating will feel that some form of partiality among the judges will play a part in their decisions. I am not saying that this is the case in this instance but this is Barbados and it is who you know, where you went to school, where you live, and who are your parents!

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23 Comments on “Conflict of Interest”

  1. Bernard Codrington. July 16, 2016 at 8:49 AM #

    Well said Wayne. It is very important that we hold people in this country to the high standards of behaviour to which we are accustomed. It may be colonial but it inculcates in us a high standard of fairness and impartiality. If you want art to flourish you do not put stumbling blocks in its path.

    Like

  2. David July 16, 2016 at 8:54 AM #

    Like

  3. Hants July 16, 2016 at 10:16 AM #

    @ David, thanks for the video.

    The backing band is really good. The musical arrangements are great.

    Like

  4. Donna July 16, 2016 at 10:24 AM #

    I shouldn’t be surprised at this accusation of conflict of interest but I am. Why have the other artists not brought this to the public’s attention if this is in fact the case? Sad. I was actually going to view this exhibition but I wonder now if I should even bother. No use in taking my son to see another crappy expression of our culture.

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  5. David July 16, 2016 at 10:26 AM #

    You are welcome Hants.

    Although we have seen some activity in the cultural industry/arts in recent years there is a feeling by the BU household that the cultural expression of Barbadians is not being visibly and meaningful expressed. Then again the current state defines the Bajan culture.

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  6. David July 16, 2016 at 10:31 AM #

    @Donna

    Do you live in Barbados?

    Here is another example of the Bajan silence in the face of glaring malfeasance. The involvement of Dorsey Boyce at the NCF and how his behaviour impacts other players in the Arts needs to be investigated. Importantly how minister Stephen Lashley has allowed him to profit off the back of Bajan taxdollars.

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  7. Donna July 16, 2016 at 10:44 AM #

    Oh, is that who it is? Lord! This is stifling !

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  8. David July 16, 2016 at 10:57 AM #

    @Donna

    No, was giving another example. Wayne did not mention the names of the artists in his article.

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  9. Violet C Beckles July 16, 2016 at 2:04 PM #

    Ethics , where is none there is no conflict , just crooks,

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  10. TheGazer July 16, 2016 at 4:50 PM #

    Short and very good.

    We assume that those in charge are knowledgeable of the correct way to do things; but this could be a situation where folks are well-intentioned but are not fully aware of the consequence or implications of their actions.

    The fact that this situation has existed several years may also indicate that no-one has stepped forward to point out that these actions do not appear proper. Now is the time to stop mumbling and grumbling and to make certain that 2017 is not a repeat of previous years.

    Employees or their families should not be allowed to enter any competition that are for the general public.

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  11. BELLYHURT July 17, 2016 at 3:10 AM #

    I cannot speak for all artists but know as fact that it makes no sense at all to bring anything more to the attention of ALL parties under government protection, including Minister and Ministry of Culture. Waste of precious time and time is money for artists who mostly eek out a living unless dem can carry an 8 to 4 as well – this makes for ‘dem concerned’ sadly to do as they please continuously. Yes. Those working and getting salaries from taxpayers should not be allowed to compete. Invited to show work yes. There is much that makes one want to laugh till the belly hurts if it was not all so bottom of the barrel sad yuh!

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  12. David July 17, 2016 at 6:03 AM #

    For those who are not familiar with the Arts scene the artists referred to is Omawale Stewart and Ashanti Trotman.

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  13. William Skinner July 17, 2016 at 6:40 AM #

    Well timed article. We cannot properly develop and promote the arts if we allow political and other negative thinking to affect its development. I still have not gotten over a calypsonian winning the crown after forgetting a whole verse!!!!!
    I am certain that if two little children were in a competition reciting poetry in some little church or primary school, there is no way that the child forgetting an entire verse of the poem could have won.
    NCF has always displayed bias and the stench of political interference has always been present under BOTH the dees and the bees.

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  14. Donna July 17, 2016 at 9:16 AM #

    David,

    Oh, thank goodness! I thought he had somehow cornered that market as well. I pulled out of all competitions in this country long ago and shall never return. Imagine a competition where a presentation was not to exceed five minutes being won by a perennial favourite who went on for more than twenty minutes. Mind you, I wasn’t expecting to win (because we also breeched a rule) but there were others who fit the bill. That’s Barbados!

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  15. Donna July 17, 2016 at 9:38 AM #

    To show you how tainted the NCF is – some years ago I entered a very talented youngster in NIFCA in the performing arts category. I was informed by a call from the NCF that my entry had advanced to the finals. I arranged with the youngster’s employer to have the time off for the official rehearsal with the NCF. When I called to confirm with NCF I was informed that an error had been made in the tabulation and that we no longer qualified. When I called Koffi Akobe and told him I knew we were bumped to make way for somebody’s favourite who had been left off the list he couldn’t even muster a denial.

    I had seen that favoritism displayed openly on other occasions when the favourites were welcomed to the stage with great enthusiasm while we were welcomed with stony silence and indifference from the judges who were sitting together. Winston Farrell and Christopher Moore were sitting by themselves away from what was obviously a clique including Cicely Spencer- Cross, Andrea Gollop and Cynthia Ralston. After the presentation we were ripped to sheds by the clique. Christopher Moore called me aside and told me, among other things, not to mind them.

    Another instance of an NCF writers’ workshop conducted by Andy Taitt. He issued specific instructions for us to create a character in three sentences. Three perennial favourites read entire short stories (worthy of publication though, I must admit) they had brought to the workshop. I followed instructions and was torn to shreds by the favourites based on faulty reasoning. Taitt looked at me sheepishly but never uttered a word in my defence. If that happens at workshops imagine what happens in competitions. I left all such activities behind.

    So… I have NO DOUBT that what Wayne Cadogan states is true. Stifling talent and promoting mediocrity. That’s what we are good at in this country.

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  16. Donna July 17, 2016 at 9:47 AM #

    Whoops! That’s breached a rule, not breeched.

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  17. Artax July 17, 2016 at 10:11 AM #

    Donna July 17, 2016 at 9:38 AM #

    “When I called to confirm with NCF I was informed that an error had been made in the tabulation and that we no longer qualified. When I called Koffi Akobe and told him I knew we were bumped to make way for somebody’s favourite who had been left off the list he couldn’t even muster a denial.”

    @ Donna

    I know exactly what you are referring to and these types of practices occur very often in Barbados.

    Your above comments reminded me of a similar occurrence when Senior Superintendent Byron Clarke was the recruiting officer for the Royal Barbados Police Force and his Sergeants at the time were now Public Prosecutor Elwood Watts and Wayne Webster who now works at the NCF.

    Two friends of mine were among those individuals recruited for the RBPF in 1985 or 86. They were signed up for kit, issued uniforms and had to await instructions for transport from Central Station to the training school, which was usually scheduled for the Saturday before training began.

    A few days before that Saturday, when they reported to Central Station for further instructions, they were told their names were not on the list. One of the guy’s sisters who knew a senior officer told him of the situation and he promised to “investigate” the matter.

    She was told that they were indeed on the list, but unfortunately had to make room for two other individuals who had “big up” connections.

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  18. TheGazer July 17, 2016 at 10:39 AM #

    Makes you wonder how many dreams have been crushed because of favoritism.
    How amny young men and women have been made bitter, because they know the system does not work for everyone.

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  19. Donna July 17, 2016 at 11:07 AM #

    My young entrant was so crushed and embarassed because he had told all his friends and family he had made the finals. He never performed again.

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  20. TheGazer July 17, 2016 at 11:07 AM #

    But how do you fix/fight such injustices. They seem to be an integral part of the system; accepted and expected by even those they disadvantaged. Connections trumps qualifications.

    What can we do today to stop this type of behavior? Obviously, the beneficiaries will not refuse these benefits. And if you are in power and do not pull strings for your folks then you are seen as lacking real power; so you tug on those strings.

    And if you find yourself on the other side of the equation, not a beneficiary, but the victim of such a power play, how do you react? Do you become disenchanted and bitter, be mad as hell, but having to accept whatever scraps fall onto your table? Do you set out to be the biggest yardfowl there is so that you acquire a benefactor ( a power player)? Do you change the trajectory of your rocket so that instead of aiming for the stars you aim for North America? Can you deliver your best, when you know that other will give less but will always be ahead of you? And when a fellow Bajan come to you expecting the service you are paid to deliver how do you treat him? As a customer or as a part of the system that betrayed you and keeps you down?

    The problems are known; the examples of favoritism are many, but how do we fix these problems, starting today?

    Like

  21. Donna July 17, 2016 at 11:15 AM #

    Gazer,

    That one I cannot even begin to answer.

    Like

  22. pieceuhderockyeahright July 17, 2016 at 11:16 PM #

    @ TheGazer July 17, 2016 at 11:07 AM #

    You queried “But how do you fix/fight such injustices. They seem to be an integral part of the system; accepted and expected by even those they disadvantaged….”

    there are 2 ways that I know how to fix and fight such injustice.

    Ask them to send you an email or and this one you will love

    This is an application that i have on my phone IN A CONSTANT STATE OF READINESS.

    When they call you, just tell them give you one second you are closing the windows “because it is drizzling” and go for your phone and activate it

    With the presence of the email and/or the recording while they can claim that they made a genuine mistake, AFTER A WHILE, with the recordings of the genuine mistakes up on Barbados Underground or wherever, the embarrassment for their obvious retractions, will be enough.

    When Donna’s young talent goes to his family with that recording he will NOT loose face.

    It is time to take back our “streets”

    If they are using bullets you cannot walk into AK47 on semi automatic with an I Love you,

    It DOES NOT WORK as our Christian colleague has learnt.

    Like

  23. Sargeant July 18, 2016 at 12:44 AM #

    The Atty General commenting on cases before the Court

    Artists entering competitions sponsored by their employer

    When will they ever learn?

    Like

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