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‘Strategic’ outlook needed for culture

rhondathompson, [email protected]

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GOVERNMENTS, telecommunications firms and creative enterprises have been challenged to develop a comprehensive framework to drive competitiveness and better encourage and support producers of cultural content in the Caribbean.The gauntlet has been thrown down by Trinidadian Josanne Leonard, a leading Caribbean media, communications and entertainment expert.Speaking at the Caribbean Telecommunications Union’s (CTU) Caribbean ICT Roadshow in St Maarten on Developing A Sustainable Content Creation Industry, Leonard charged that “the value of our cultural economy has been neglected by regional governments and private sector development initiatives”.The Caribbean ICT Roadshow has been developed to raise awareness within the public and private sector, civil society and academia, of the innovative approaches possible and necessary for the effective use of ICT.In a wide-ranging presentation covering policy and business strategy, Leonard touched on the need for governments, telecommunications firms and creative enterprises to flesh out a policy framework for ICT networks, electronic communications, spectrum, roaming networks, e-commerce and information security.“It’s not business as usual in the cultural and creative sectors,” she said.“Now that local and extra-regional economic shocks have caused massive dislocation in traditional sectors like agriculture, tourism and energy, we have to align creativity, innovation, technology and business entrepreneurship to make and distribute our local cultural content.”Leonard noted that while the cultural economy was widely recognised as the flagship of the modern knowledge-based economies, the region’s governments were still too slow off the mark in addressing structural imbalances and biases that continued to impact negatively on the cultural sectors.“We must do a bit of navel-gazing quickly to address the barriers that inhibit the wider creation and distribution of local online and mobile content,” she added.Leonard also highlighted some of the critical next steps.“What is required are partnerships geared toward promoting the competitiveness of Caribbean content in music, film, sports and other creative areas through the strengthening of intellectual property regimes, inter-operability and e-commerce settlement systems and digital rights management to make content secure.“Here in the Caribbean, we should be strategic about increasing integration between tourism, sports, and entertainment to develop and retain lucrative tourism products on which to hang our different and individual appeal.”Leonard acknowledged that while regional telecoms and ISPs had made some tentative steps to embrace content, there was need for more strategic partnerships. “Our content producers, aggregators and entertainment enterprises have not been enabled to reach local, diaspora and new consumers through affordable bandwidth and fast digital networks. “It is a paradigm shift that the Caribbean has to embrace more earnestly,” Leonard said. (AB)