Patterson links cricket, creative sector
As Caribbean countires seek to diversify their economies, governments are being told to consider cricket as a part of the creative sector.
The suggestion comes from former Prime Minister of Jamaica PJ Patterson who noted that no country in the region had escaped the impact of the global financial meltdown and the decline of traditional industries.
With the export of the region’s primary commodities registering sharp declines, Patterson said the focus had to shift to the provision of services.
Delivering the 18th Frank Worrell Memorial Lecture last Tuesday night he said the region had to develop its human capital and focus primarily on those areas likely to yield jobs, foreign exchange, increased numbers of small and medium-sized businesses and “more self-employed persons in less office space”.
“It is in this scenario I envisage the urgency of regarding cricket in the Caribbean as more than a sport or a pastime. It is . . . an essential aspect of our heritage and cultural identity which must be exploited in the clusters of creative . . . ,” he said.
Patterson said the 2007 governance report on West Indies Cricket, commonly called the Patterson Report, identified cricket as belonging to the group of creative industries which had enjoyed an annual growth rate of 14 per cent over the proceeding five years and by 2010 had market value of US$600 billion.
“The creative industries have become the leading component of economic growth, trade, innovation and social cohesion in most advanced economies with exports from developing countries representing as much as 43 per cent of their total goods exports,” he said.
Patterson added that the sports industry was reported to be growing faster than gross domestic product in both emerging and mature markets.
“We want the Caribbean to have its due share of that market potential,” he said.
Patterson, who was instrumental in establishing the mechanisms that resulted in the evolution of the Caribbean Free Trade Area into CARICOM, said cricket had the potential to become one of the biggest industries in the region.
He noted that the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) had announced a decision to convene a two day event on the business of cricket in March 2014.
He suggested that the key stakeholders in government, business, tourism, media and entertainment, along with professionals in a range of disciplines and players of the game, should be brought together for the event.
However, he said the WICB also had to go further and undertake a substantial upgrading of its commercial operations.
“In the world today it is marketing, marketing, marketing. No matter how good the product is, if you don’t market it there will be no success,” he said.
Patterson also suggested that both the WICB and regional governments should move speedily to solidify and expand the linkages between cricket and other economic activities as part of a drive towards the emergence of a broader based service economy.
He said this would help to cushion the impact of the decline of the traditional agricultural industries and move the region towards new paths of economic growth and development. (NB)