Guyana’s creative industry faces an uphill climb, but a young creative and environmental enthusiast, Alex Arjoon, aims to use his talents to teach the Guyanese populace more and more about the Guyana experience, even as he is learning for himself.
At 26, Arjoon has already received the National Youth Award from the Ministry of the Presidency’s Department of Youth for outstanding achievements in advancing youth development through Environmental Conservation and Protection. He said that he has been fortunate enough to travel to many regions, and he’s using that fortune to inspire other creative minds.
Arjoon founded a production company, REEL Guyana, which has been in operation since March, 2017, and its aim is to shape a cohesive Guyanese identity through storytelling. Already, REEL Guyana has received the President’s Award from the Guyana Manufacturing & Services Association Limited for its work in showcasing Guyana’s natural and cultural heritage through cutting edge technology and brilliant cinematography.
Albeit the local creative industry leaves much to be desired, Arjoon noted, that’s because the environment artists are operating in needs a lot of work.
Arjoon explained that it can be difficult for young people to nurture their talent in an environment that isn’t always encouraging, to put it mildly.
For starters, government has faced calls for an update to Guyana’s copyright legislation, but there’s no telling when that will be done. It’s important for persons to have legal rights that protect works of authorship, composition or artistry, Arjoon believes. He recalled instances when persons reused and repurposed his work, without notifying him – let alone – giving him credit. He said that up-to-date legislation would go a long way to let artists know their work is respected and appreciated.
People should know, he added, that “they can write their own story”.
Arjoon believes that young Guyanese are sitting on a mountain of talent, ready to be expressed through various art forms, but he worries that “we don’t respect the industry enough” to allow those artforms to flourish.
A sea of opportunities awaits young people in a few years, when oil starts producing and Guyana’s wealth experiences rapid growth. Arjoon hopes that the youth will take advantage of them.
Ultimately, his vision for his work is to inspire others, especially young creative minds.
Through his travels, he’s been spearheading a REEL Guyana mini-series called “INSIDE Reel”.
INSIDE Reel is a series of six videos, each about 8-12 minutes in duration, which will be aired on REEL Guyana’s Facebook Page and YouTube channel. Arjoon said that the documentary displays a mixture of tropes about Guyana’s environment, its diverse culture, and its incomparable variety of wildlife. It banks on sustainable management of the country’s resources.
The series explores Indigenous culture, and seeks to foster true appreciation for local heritage through adventure tourism.
Guyana doesn’t have the “blue water” beaches or the ease of travel that comes with the smaller sizes of its island counterparts in the Caribbean Sea. But it does make up for that in many other ways. Don’t believe it?
Ask ITB (Internationale Tourismus-Börse) Berlin, a global trade fair that crowned Guyana the best in the world for Eco-Tourism, earlier this year.
Despite its beauty, the sheer size of this country and the expense of travel make it difficult for most of the populace to experience and truly appreciate the beauty that this country is. Some have said that, because of the expense, foreigners get a chance to experience the length and breadth of this country more than locals do; an issue that Arjoon has acknowledged is still a problem.
A lot needs to be done to make Guyana more accessible to everyone. Meanwhile, Arjoon’s mini-series is about learning all he can about Guyana, and bringing the vastness of the country to the people.
REEL Guyana has worked with a series of musicians, producers and other creatives on this series, including Charlie Tokeley, Dave Martins, Carissa Russle and Robert “Dublin” Hiscock.
Arjoon has expressed his love for collaborating, and his gratefulness to all the supporters of INSIDE Reel’s development, including Mohamed’s Enterprise, first business that has shown meaningful support for the endeavour. Mohamed’s Enterprise has sponsored the first episode of the INSIDE Reel series, which airs today.
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