Bully pays tribute to Raymond Lawrence

 

Dr Alwin Bully asks of Raymond Lawrence, "who can fit his shoes"
Dr Alwin Bully, a former Chief Cultural Officer with whom Raymond Lawrence worked.

Dr Alwin Bully, founding head of Dominica’s Cultural Division, has paid tribute to the career of Chief Cultural Officer Raymond Lawrence who retires today, his 60th birthday, after 23 years at the helm. “He has made a sterling contribution to the preservation and promotion of Dominican culture over many, many years. And he has done it with so few resources. If he has a fault it is that he has been able to do so much with no money – therefore he continues to get no money.”

Lawrence had been a “blessing to Dominican arts and culture,” said Bully, adding that “his personal skills are magnificent – he is a person who has a great rapport with rural communities” and at the same time is an efficient administrator.

Such qualities were also mentioned by historian Dr Lennox Honychurch, who said that Lawrence had “shown personal commitment over several decades ensuring the preservation of folk traditions and in his care over the administration of cultural activities.” It was Lawrence’s personal connections in communities all over the island that had made this possible, said Honychurch.

Raymond Lawrence turns 60 today, retiring as Dominica's Chief Cultural Officer
Raymond Lawrence turns 60 today, retiring as Dominica’s Chief Cultural Officer

Lawrence joined Bully and Senior Cultural Officer Pearl Christian at the Cultural Division in 1982 and officially became Chief Cultural Officer in 1993 after three years in charge. On his retirement, Lawrence told Dominica News Online, “I have retired from the department but not from culture,” he said. “I’d still like to be involved in arts and culture and there are projects that I’d like to work on but nothing has yet been formalized. I don’t intend to stop”.

He said that the achievements during his years in Dominica’s top cultural job have centred on the introduction of festivals – such as the Emancipation Festival every August and the National School Arts Festival. He is also proud of the opening of the Old Mill Museum after the building was destroyed by Hurricane David in 1979; the Cultural Division’s publication of books on costume, dance, the Creole language, and heritage photographs; and most recently, in 2012, the introduction of the Dominica Institute for the Arts, which offers courses in the artistic disciplines.

Over the years, Dominica’s cultural heritage had become healthier, he believed: “Cultural appreciation has increased by leaps and bounds – and many young people are involved,” There had been, he said, a concerted effort at the Cultural Division to offset negative external influences. “Many years ago we embarked on training of young people and now we have many young people participating in cultural activities. There are so many more opportunities now.”

He believes that music and dance are particularly strong now and would like to see a strengthening in such elements as bamboo flutes and the oral traditions such as conte. He would also like to see the Creole language being taught in schools.

Lawrence, who grew up in a musical family, was educated at the Convent Preparatory School, the Dominica Grammar School and St Mary’s Academy. He joined Dominica Broadcasting Service straight from school in 1972. He moved to Radio Antilles International for four years (1978-1982) before returning home to start his career in culture.

Dance, he says, has been one of his great loves and the Waitukubuli Dance Theatre Company that he founded 43 years ago this month is still going strong. Apart from dance, Lawrence says that he has always written (poetry and short stories), dabbled in painting and enjoyed drama.

The Ministry of Culture is currently going through the selection process to appoint a new Chief Cultural Officer. But, as Bully asked, “Who can fit his shoes?”

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23 Comments

  1. love I
    January 15, 2014

    @ Simply the [email protected]…..yes his family is Wendell, Jean, Tony, Ursula and others….

    • Simply the Truth
      January 16, 2014

      Thank you! I recall those days in Dominica. I remember his parents. There was Zeila Lawrence, a really nice person. She had resided in N.Y. Once when my family and I visited relatives in N.Y., she came to visit us. She passed away a few years ago.
      There were the twin boys who were closely attached to each other; they were inseparable.
      The Lawrence’s are a very nice family. I recall Jean played the piano and has a wonderful voice. Great memories.
      God bless!

  2. love I
    January 15, 2014

    Thank you Raymond and may God continue to bless and keep you. You are a true hero and mentor, and you have brought Culture to its highest. Congratulations on your birthday..I agree with Mr. Bully..

  3. LIMINGLUCY
    January 15, 2014

    Happy Birthday From all of us in Houston.

  4. LIMINGLUCY
    January 15, 2014

    Happy birthday to you cousin.

  5. OVERSEAS
    January 15, 2014

    Thank you Mr. Lawrence. Although you are retiring, if I know if called upon to assist you will never refuse. I am definitely going to miss that voice.

  6. Gwatelle
    January 15, 2014

    You’ve made us – proud! Congrats

  7. Hope
    January 15, 2014

    :-D you are a precious jewel in this land … Raymond and culture are synonymous in my mind. I love you Sir.

  8. Proud of Ray
    January 15, 2014

    Thank you so much Ray for your sterling contribution to cultural development IN DA. Those years have flown by so quickly. One thing is certain that you along with your dedicated staff have given culture a new lease. Pearl is close close close..
    Ray you may be 60 years but your mind is that of a twenty year old so you still have plenty to contribute to Dominica, so what you can do
    brother,blessings will follow. We love you.
    Happy Birthday today. Congrats on the BIG 6 O!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  9. Alex Bruno
    January 15, 2014

    Thank you Raymond. You have and shall continue to serve Dominica well. You are young my brother and friend, so have some fun. Let’s have a lunch some time.

    Peace

  10. JB CHARLES
    January 15, 2014

    Raymond you gave your people and Dominica your all now it is your time to enjoy your retirement thanks for your service. You are a very honorable person and I know you will still play an active roll because that who you are. Hat of to you my friend

  11. January 15, 2014

    Happy birthday ray lo you will u marry me.

    • gwaj
      January 15, 2014

      So then elder? So you proposing to the man?

  12. January 15, 2014

    hip hip huray salutations my friend ray, whatnext and move.i wonder lets get married and enjoy our retiement

  13. Jaime Lewis
    January 15, 2014

    Many thanks to Raymond Lawrence for his stellar contribution to keeping our culture alive. We wish him a restful and happy retirement. Well done!

  14. Simply the Truth
    January 15, 2014

    A Happy Retirement to you even though you will not fully retire. Life goes on whether one is retired and at 60 years of age. You are still young and full of life with health and strength.
    It is wise to keep busy and involved in whatever is of interest to you and what you love doing.
    If you are related to Wendell Lawrence, Jean Lawrence and other members of their family, we are related – distant cousins. Nevertheless, extension of the family tree. The more I wish you well.
    God bless you with health and strength and in whatever you desire to undertake.

  15. Mamizoo
    January 14, 2014

    Raymond you are a gem. Often times we only miss the tool when we can’t find it. Raymond you certainly deserve our country highest awards and you ught to be rewarded for the excellent work that you have done . kudos to you my brother.

  16. mandela spirit
    January 14, 2014

    HE IS A JOLLY GOOD FELLOW,and a Heartical human being,may God continue to Bless Him, and guide him to keep on doing the good things for culture in Dominica.Very talented and a good friend to all who interact with him.Hats off to you my man.You deserve you FLOWERS NOW. :-D :)

  17. Shenel Jolly
    January 14, 2014

    congratulations again Mr. Lawrence

  18. ##D.A.##.
    January 14, 2014

    The ultimate servant of the people of Dominica and the wider Caribbean. A true trail blazer. Thank you MR.LAWRENCE for your service. Sad you have to retire but as such nothing last forever and all good things have to come to an end, in my opinion you still look young and strong and there`s no doubt we cannot allow persons like you and those before you to set aside once retirement takes place. But let your experience and vast knowledge continue to assist our people to keep your influence and shape lives. I respectfully suggest and submit that the house of culture on kennedy avenue be Named “THE RAYMOND LAWRENCE HOUSE OF CULTURE,” A symbol to never forget you and your service to country. GOD speed and enjoy your retirement, may be you can channel your vast knowledge on television, or Radio and host your own program on the topic of culture and theatre, dance, and the arts, or team up with Felix Henderson with your great voice and continue in that vain. looking forward to hearing you on the air waves, or seeing you on television. Too often it`s out of site out of mind”. Keep the candle burning.

  19. CUZZO
    January 14, 2014

    Ray you still young and can contribute to what you like best. I hope you are contracted to do the work still.

  20. Not a herd follower
    January 14, 2014

    All the best, Ray, and thanks for your good works which contributed to nation building.

    There is an element of truth in Dr. Bully’s statement that because you did so much with so little the Cultural Division got very little resources from Central Government. Many who are involved in the decision-making process of resource allocation did not and still do not understand that the arts and crafts can build a better nation in terms of its civility and human endeavour and achievement, keep youth positive and away from drugs and violence, provide employment and income opportunities, be important aspects of our tourism product, etc..

  21. gwaj
    January 14, 2014

    Congrats Mr. Raymond. Enjoy your retirement knowing that you did a great job.

    I would say Ms. Pearl Christian would be a great choice as the next CCO.

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