Former Director of Culture Dr. Nicolette Bethel yesterday expressed disappointment that the Minnis administration did not implement an independent Ministry of Culture as Dr. Hubert Minnis promised to do when he was still leader of the opposition.
On her blog, nicobethelblogworld.wordpress.com, Bethel recalled when she met Free National Movement (FNM) Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis in January 2017 during the We March protest.
“I’m there, live streaming on Facebook, when the marchers come streaming in,” Bethel wrote on her blog.
“There’s a knot of people that’s moving across the square and when it gets to me I realize it’s Dr. Minnis and his entourage… moving through the crowd, glad-handing and accepting accolades.
“He sees me. ‘I know you should be a happy young lady,’ he tells me. ‘You see we’ve announced we will have an independent Ministry of Culture.’
“I laugh. I have heard this before. Eleven years ago: February 2006, to be exact.
“‘We’ll see. Mouth could say anything,’ I tell him.
“‘That’s the difference between doctors and lawyers,’ he tells me. ‘A doctor is trained to tell the truth. I can’t talk bout lawyers.’
“Five months later, Dr. Minnis becomes the prime minister. We wait. My breath is not bated; I know better. I have spoiled my ballot for a reason. But never mind.
“The ministries are announced.
“There is — wait for it — a Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture. Oh joy. But no, wait, that is not an independent Ministry of Culture at all.
“Culture is still and culture.”
During a national address in January 2017, months ahead of the May general elections, Minnis noted, “Hand in hand with education must be the cultural development of our youth.
“This is fundamental to our identity as a people and our stability as a country.
“We are blessed with an abundance of talent and an FNM government will mandate and enable our new stand-alone Ministry of Culture to work with our cultural community, our national institutions and the public in the development, preservation and exposition of Bahamian culture in all its manifestations; Junkanoo, literature, the visual arts, folk arts, music and the performing arts.”
When the FNM took office in May 2017 it maintained the status quo.
Marco City MP Michael Pintard was appointed minister of youth, sports and culture.
In her post, Bethel said, “…At least it’s headed for the very first time by a professional cultural artist: Michael Pintard, poet, performer, playwright.
“Nobody seems to notice this, except for cultural artists; there’s no announcement in the paper about an artist for the first time being made minister of culture. But later, there’ll be whole stories about the first woman heading up sports. Not the MBE awarded athlete member of Parliament, mind you, but anyway.
“Fast forward [to] July 2018. There has been a Cabinet shuffle. Four ministries are affected, among them — you guessed it — the ministry of and culture.
“Our poet is moved to, wait what? Agriculture. And who do you think the new minister of And Culture is: A lawyer.”
On Monday, the Cabinet Office confirmed that four Cabinet ministers of the Minnis administration would have their portfolios reassigned.
Among them were Pintard and Minister of Social Services Lanisha Rolle.
Rolle was named the new minister of youth, sports and culture and Pintard was named the new minister of agriculture and marine resources.
Both Rolle and Pintard have declined requests for comment on the reassignment.