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A poor response from government agencies has not stopped a lecture series in honour of the Mighty Sparrow from taking place. Canboulay Productions, who is staging If Sparrow Say So..., a lecture-performance series that will explore the life and work of Sparrow, told the T&T Guardian it has not received any assistance from the ministries of Education, Arts and Multiculturalism or Tertiary Education. In a telephone interview, Rawle Gibbons, of Canboulay Productions, said he was disappointed that the government agencies haven’t come forward to assist with the lecture series that is also a fundraiser to help Sparrow with his medical expenses. “The response has not been good from the Government,” he said. “This is something that is of great educational value and should be supported. In some cases, we didn’t even get a response to our proposal. “We got immediate positive responses from the Tobago House of Assembly, Central Bank and UWI and they are supporting the series.”
Gibbons said the lecture-performance series will feature speakers like Prof Gordon Rohlehr, David Rudder and Earl Lovelace alongside performers like Relator, Singing Sandra and the Canboulay Players. The idea for this lecture series came after Gibbons delivered a lecture that included interludes from calypsonian Willard “Relator” Harris as part of the 15th annual Eric E Williams Memorial Lecture in October 2013 at Florida International University. “Erica Williams-Connell originally invited me and Sparrow to do something about Sparrow and Williams for the WIlliams Memorial lecture, but when Sparrow fell ill, Relator stepped in. “It was extremely well received and I felt this was something that needed to be done in Trinidad. And I also wanted to find a way to help out Sparrow after he got sick.”
Gibbons believes that this lecture series can help people to gain a deeper understanding of Sparrow’s work. “Everyone knows he’s a great performer and the calypso king, but we don’t talk enough about what his work and life really means to us.” If this series is successful, Canboulay will look at doing the same for other artistes. “It might well become an annual thing, but this one is aimed at helping us change the way we look at our artistes, raise the consciousness and think about how we provide for them.”