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EDITORIAL: Positive move for culture industries


Barbados Nation

EDITORIAL: Positive move for culture industries

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OVER THE PAST five years, there has been a buzz across Barbados regarding the cultural and creative industries and their potential to aid economic growth. There is no doubt that there have been some initiatives implemented but going forward, what is still needed is to clearly map out the defining characteristics of this sector and its economic possibilities.

That is why tomorrow’s workshop on the cultural industries organised by the Barbados Chamber of Commerce & Industry (BCCI) is of significance and relevance at this time. The reality is that despite the hope and promise of tremendous economic returns, many who have ventured into this economic area are not doing nearly as well as they might have expected. It is evident with the naked eye.

This situation must be turned around. The BCCI’s effort is a good starting point but it is going to be important to have other key players on board. The Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association can offer many possibilities given the close link between the cultural industries and tourism, the Small Business Association is where many of those in the sector would be best represented, and educational institutions must help to change the negative mindset about the cultural industries. Government must be very clear of its role, not only in providing the enabling legislation, but to ensure that the overall infrastructure is facilitative for entrepreneurs.

The economic contribution of the cultural and creative industries must be researched to arrive at a true and accurate estimate of their contribution rather than all the varied unscientific estimates now used. The use of a cultural satellite account, a statistical system which aims at describing the economic contribution of culture, is often recommended and it is understood that there is some effort to achieve its implementation.

What must also be undertaken is a mapping of the sub-sectors which comprise the cultural and creative industries in order to better understand how these generate commercial value. So while we are clear that music, film, photography, fashion, the performing arts, broadcast and culinary arts are sub-sectors of these industries, the understanding that advertising, design, architecture, heritage and software development among others are also key components is not.

The development of these industries will also depend on transparency and accountability given the high level of risk and low levels of trust which are characteristic. These obligations are applicable to Government and statutory organisations as well as the private sector.

Barbadians in the cultural and creative industries must recognise that while opportunities exist to be harnessed, these will require input by all parties. This means high-quality output in terms of products and services, a strategic and systematic approach and time for positive results.

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