The priority of embracing the creative arts in The Bahamas—and many other countries—is one buried under heavy biases.
To be artistic is to embrace an intellectual skill based on traditional narratives. Holding tight to “white collar” professions like law, medicine, and accounting, Bahamians make it hard for anything else to shine through. However, at this time more than ever, young aspiring artists need to be heard. They need to be given an outlet; they need to be given encouragement.
As a Bahamian, this is one of the few things that makes me furious when thinking of my country. We need not limit our art and stick to a certain set of standards, but be given an equal amount of opportunities to showcase our passions. For the aspiring writers, filmmakers, dancers, and more, this country offers limited choices that will enable us thriving and manageable careers. Not that pursuing any of these careers is easy anywhere—but that’s the point. It’s not easy.
However, it’s near impossible when your own country doesn’t support you. Artistic efforts are not enough because we’re still not promised a sustainable lifestyle unless we settle—settle for a job that is not our intended passion.
Due to the lack of opportunities in The Bahamas, students filled with artistic talent are more than willing to go abroad in hopes of making a career elsewhere. They must deal with the hardship of being told that their dream is unrealistic and unprofitable. We deserve to be allowed to reach for the stars, but we’re not allowed to.
It comes down to the prejudice belief that an individual pursuing the creative arts is less skillful than one who is not. But when we argue that we are equally as qualified and intelligent, we are often silenced. When will we be heard? When will we matter? The unsettling truth is this country will never feel like home when I know my greatest talent will always be overlooked, always a sub-heading but never a headline; left in the dusty corner bound to be forgotten.
There’s no reason why the arts can’t be supported in The Bahamas when they’re able to unify communities and spark innovation. Us artists can teach your classes and drive your tourism, but we’re more than that. We can tell stories. We can bring awareness. We can give what this country is so painfully neglecting. We can be successful if given the chance. However, the sad truth is The Bahamas is not yet ready to greet everyone with open arms and equal opportunities. Come the doctors, come the bankers, come the tourists—oh, you’re an artist? What good are you for?