I am most inclined to agree with Nicolette’s assertion that the Bahamian government should channel at least a portion of its immense tourist advertising budget towards local cultural development. However, even here there are reservations. I am not convinced that commissioning a Bahamian to create tourist entertainment will improve the authenticity of our art. That is, of course, if more authentic art is the desired result. I am reminded of the opening ceremony of Forum 2003, held in Nassau under the auspices of the Bahamas Association for Cultural Studies (BACUS). At that event, which was a conference for Bahamians by Bahamians, a forum for ideas on how to move the country forward, the College of the Bahamas choir decided that, of all the songs in the world to sing, the most appropriate was Raphael Munnings’ 1986 tourist-brochure song, “Bahamas Experience.”
The problem is that the line between what is produced for tourist consumption and what is made for Bahamians is as thin as wax-paper — it is so thin that we can hardly tell the difference ourselves. If the Day of Absence is really about tourist’s pleasure, if this is what we really care about, let us at least be honest about it. I sincerely believe that we should deal with our own cultural hunger before we worry about how to provide better shows for our visitors. Confusing the two will eventually bring us right back to the same emptiness, no matter how much money we throw at the problem.
Let me be clear, though, that I am not against the Bahamianization of tourist entertainment — far from it. Bahamians can be just as shallow as any one else, and if we are going to pay someone for trite silliness, let us pay one of our own. It is indeed possible that by investing in locally created shows we may increase the odds that some introspective dredging will be done. Unfortunately, it is far more likely that we will simply generate more of the same old, same old.