Policy entrepreneurship: expanding multimodality in Caribbean practice through Caribbean intransit

Marielle Barrow


This essay explores the concept of multimodality as a creative, structured way of experimenting with how cultural institutions are configured, and with a view to promoting sustainability and social development using the arts. Caribbean InTransit is an experimental platform that explores how diverse modalities of knowledge production may inflect the construction of human subjectivity differently. How do choices about modes of knowledge come to position and interpolate firstly, arts and cultural expression, and secondly, peoples of the Caribbean? And how is the potential for engagement with communities a matter of modality? Caribbean InTransit is a non-profit platform that encourages policy entrepreneurship between locations by ensuring that policy objectives are always under review or ‘in transit’. It aims to be a bridge that connects spaces and institutions within certain local or national settings, while creating networked communities that connect across geographical space. It emphasises the need for the ‘consociating’ of people of various professions to create, what Caribbean InTransit has termed, communities of value (a grouping together of stakeholders) rather than simply communities of interest (groups of individuals with a similar vocational background). The sharing of values is made possible by multimodality: encapsulated in the role that Caribbean InTransit has played in education and social outreach, engaging simultaneously with the modes of collaborative research, cultural creativity through the visual arts and tourism. The four key aspects of multimodality – materiality, framing, design and production – which have emerged in theoretical work on the term (Kress & Jewitt, 2003), are emphasised in the discussion of art communities of the Caribbean.

Keywords: multimodality, policy entrepreneurship, design, arts institutions, community development, arts policy, cultural policy

Full text: OAJ_issue5_barrow_final_v2 (PDF 1.4 MB)

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5456/issn.2050-3679/2016s09

Biographical note
Trinidad-born Marielle Barrow is a Fulbright scholar, visual artist and social entrepreneur. After completing a degree in Hospitality Management in 2002, Barrow became a full-time artist and researcher, earning a postgraduate Diploma in Arts and Cultural Enterprise Management and an MPhil in Cultural Studies at the University of the West Indies, before completing her doctorate at George Mason University in 2016. Her research focuses on the policy implications of counter-memory and cultural capital within Caribbean arts practice, especially in Haiti, The Bahamas, and Trinidad and Tobago. Barrow is the founder of Caribbean InTransit, a project involving thirty-three scholars and artists across the Caribbean, US and Europe, which produces a biannually published journal, symposia and festivals, as well as workshops for at-risk groups.