Minister Lovitta Foggo With Artist Alan Smith

Minister of Labour, Community Affairs and Sports, Lovitta Foggo stated today that “the arts are alive, well and burgeoning in Bermuda”, in recognition of the winners of the 2018 Bermuda Literary Awards and other initiatives.

Updating MPs on various programmes, she noted that Phase I of the Art in Public Buildings programme was launched on February 18th, featuring artwork by various artists. Their work was hung in the Dame Lois Browne-Evans Building on the second, third and fourth floors.
“The presence of these beautiful pieces of art, can now be appreciated and admired by members of the public and public servants who make their way through these public areas daily. Art uplifts and moves the human spirit; and certainly these works of art will positively impact viewers,” said Ms Foggo.
“Again I would like to express my gratitude to those artists who were eager to support this public art initiative. Each has expressed their gratitude for this opportunity and have subsequently shared the positive feedback that they are receiving. I am extremely proud of our talented Bermudian artists and the variety and quality of artistic talent that we have on this Island.”
Minister Foggo With Artist James Cooper

The department has already issued an ‘Open Call’ inviting interested Bermudian artists to submit two-dimensional works of art to be considered for other Government buildings. The deadline for artists to respond to this invitation is March 8th.

“Literary artistry demands talent, hard work, research, time, and dedication; and the writing of a novel, or a book of poetry, is born from a desire to tell a story about the world we inhabit, in a way that holds meaning for its inhabitants.
“The task for Bermudian literary artists is particularly important, given the indispensable role of literature in shining a light and providing a reflective surface upon which to view a society.
“For the Bermudian writer, constructing our stories is a labour of love; and for those who have taken the additional step of making those stories available to the community by going through the rigorous process of editing and publication, it is really the kind of work that serves as its own reward, given a typical lack of financial remuneration for their efforts.”
The main goal of the Bermuda Literary Awards, she said the main goal is to reward excellence through “significant contributions to the development of Bermudian culture, honour creative works and uphold the writer’s role in society; and preserve and promote the highest standards of Bermudian literature”.
“With these goals in mind”, she said there were six different categories of awards where writers could compete:
  • The Brian Burland Prize for Fiction, named after Bermuda’s most celebrated novelist
  • The Prize for Children’s and Young Adult Fiction
  • The Prize for Drama
  • The Cecile N Musson Prize for Poetry, named after one of our trailblazing poets
  • The Prize for Non-Fiction; and
  • The Founder’s Award

The Minister also noted that “for the first time, we have added a seventh category of competition; namely, the Prize for Cultural Merit”.

“This new prize is offered for books or scripts that are notable for contributing to the preservation of Bermuda’s culture, heritage, folk-life or history. Another addition to this year’s competition stems from a recognition of the importance of film as storytelling tool in our society. As a result, the Prize for Drama is now the Prize for Drama and Screenwriting; and so in addition to theatre and radio scripts, eligibility for this category now includes screenplays that  have been made into feature-length films.”

Unpublished manuscripts, “no matter how promising, are not considered”, she added.

“This requirement is part of the Bermuda Government’s insistence on “raising the bar” in terms of the expectation of excellence that we wish to see in the area of our literary arts.” The winners congratulated:

  • In the category of Non-Fiction, the winning entry is Island Flames by Jonathan Smith, a gripping account of the deaths and racial climate that led to the 1977 riots
  • In the Drama and Screenwriting category, we have our first winning screenplay: Me and Jezebel by talented filmmaker Lucinda Spurling
  • The winner of the Children’s and Young Adult Fiction Category is remarkable for the ways in which it makes an important historical event accessible to our young people learning about social injustice: the winner is Girlcott by Florenz Webbe Maxwell, a member of Bermuda’s Progressive Group that brought about desegregation
  • The winner of the Brian Burland Prize for Fiction is Dr F Colin Duerden for his novel about the antics of Bermudian boyhood, Fried White Grunts – an area rarely given focus in our literature that Dr. Duerden approaches with humour and relatability
  • Dr Paul Maddern has the enviable distinction of having been awarded the Cecile N Musson Prize for Poetry twice in a row: in 2012 for his collection entitled The Beachcomber’s Report, and this year for his collection entitled Pilgrimage
  • Proving that talent often runs in families, the winner of the inaugural prize for Cultural Merit is Dr Clarence VH Maxwell for Pembroke, part of “Bermuda’s Architectural Heritage Series” published by the Bermuda National Trust.  Both Dr Maxwell and the Trust should be commended for this fine contribution to the preservation of our heritage
  • And finally, the Founder’s Award, which is offered for books  or scripts published prior to the establishment of the Bermuda Literary Awards in 1999, has been awarded posthumously to Cyril Outerbridge Packwood for his brave, invaluable text exploring slavery in Bermuda, Chained on the Rock. The National Museum of Bermuda is to be applauded for publishing a second edition of this seminal text in 2012, thus making it available again to our community.
Bermudian Artist Sharon Wilson

Each winner is given a prize of two thousand dollars ($2,000) and was honoured in a special ceremony on February 24th. Other Bermudian writers were also encouraged “to strive for excellence in the literary arts”.

In keeping with Education Month observed during the month of February, the Minister noted that the department collaborated with the Ministry of Education “by having researcher Dr Margot Maddison- MacFadyen to give talks in our public schools about one of our most esteemed national heroes – Mary Prince”.

“Dr Maddison-MacFadyen had recently been given a grant by the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs to conduct research on Mary Prince,

“As you know, Mary Prince is famous for her slave narrative The History of Mary Prince (1831) which was the first account of the life of a black woman to be published in the United Kingdom,” said Ms Foggo.

“This first-hand description of enslavement, released at a time when slavery was still legal in Bermuda and the British colonies, had a galvanizing effect on the anti-slavery movement. Mary Prince is not only a National Hero in Bermuda; she achieved international acclaim for her writings which helped to end slavery throughout the British Empire.

Dr Maddison-MacFadyen will be giving a public lecture about her research findings on the latter days of Mary Prince in July as part of the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs’ Emancipation programme.

The Minister concluded with a quote by Maya Angelou, who said: “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have”.
Said Ms Foggo: ” The arts and creativity are flourishing in Bermuda; may they continue.”