Raymond Lawrence
Raymond Lawrence

Goodbye Ray!

After promoting and preserving Dominica's culture for more than three decades, Raymond Lawrence, the Chief Cultural Officer (CCO), is getting ready to say goodbye.

Come January 2014 Lawrence will retire at the age of 60.

He has been in that department since 1982; in 1990 he was temporally put in charge and three years later, in 1993, he was appointed CCO.

Lawrence, who has been awarded many top awards in Dominica and the region for his work in culture, will from November 11, 2013 head home on pre-retirement leave.

"I am grateful and thankful that I was able to reach this milestone and thankful to God that I was able to play a role in Dominica's development in the field of arts and culture," he told the Sun in an exclusive interview.

Lawrence, a qualified broadcaster, has worked with DBS Radio and Radio Antilles in Montserrat but for him the arts and culture have always been his first love.

With every job, he explained, you have challenges; and while he agrees that culture could "maybe do with more staff, more funding etc", since Dominica is a developing country, one has to try to work with what's available.

"We have for the most part gotten a very good response from the general public, government and those who we work with and for. Even in the region from the other cultural departments, when they hear we have such a small staff, they are amazed and ask how are you all able to accomplish what you do with so little staff.

"We try and every year we have been able to stage at least five festivals DOMFESTA, Emancipation among others, training, publications, CD's and all. Working with the various institutions, working with groups across the island in the interest of culture and have set up a foundation that can now be a kind of a catalyst or platform for further growth," Lawrence said.

Ray, as he is more affectionately called, says he departs with no disappointments.

"It's been a wonderful experience, I love culture a lot," he said.

So what does he intend to do on retirement?

"I will continue to work in whatever area or opportunities that is available in Dominica or elsewhere. God is the one who has the answer", he said.