Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Jamaica's Cultural and Creative Industries

Very often we tend to underestimate the impact of culture and creativity as agents of economic growth. According to the Cultural Times, the first global map of cultural and creative industry, revenues generated globally in 2013 from cultural and creative industries (CCI) totalled US$2,250 billion and employed over 29 million people. It is noteworthy that creative industries include, film and television, music, advertising, fashion, performing arts, and animation. The significance and impact of the contribution of cultural and creative industries to the Jamaican economy was highlighted and reinforced to delegates who attended the recent Jamaica 55 Diaspora 2017 Conference at the Jamaica Conference Center.  Minister in charge of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sports, Olivia Grange in a wide ranging speech entitled “Jamaica 55-Jamaica’s Creative Economy” used her presentation to underscore the impact of the CCI on the Jamaican economy. According to Minister Grange, creative industries contribute 5 % to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).  She said the cultural and creative industries (CCI) were “untapped economic potential” and added that the CCI covers “urban and marginalized areas”. The Minister outlined plans regarding Jamaica 55 celebrations. One of the main pillars anchoring the 55th anniversary of Jamaica’s political independence is what the Minister referred to as Legacy Projects. The Jamaica 55 Secretariat has identified approximately, 22 projects under the Jamaica 55 Legacy Project. There are five core projects, Sports infrastructure, Entertainment and culture, National Monuments, Gender Infrastructure and Jamaica55 Publications. The Minister in her presentation mentioned three reasons for the legacy projects. These are; cultural retention, growth and development and transformation. In further explaining the legacy projects, the Minister’s presentation was met with a rousing applause from delegates as she sought to rationalize each. In response to Jamaica’s cultural retention, she pointed out the need to preserve the cultural and creative expression of Jamaica, secondly, it is critical to showcase the island’s rich cultural diversity and to transform Jamaica in the process.  According to Minister Grange, the Legacy Projects are slated to last between three to five years. In addition to providing employment and wealth, the Legacy Projects are intended to stimulate innovation as well as to become a pillar of Jamaica’s economic growth. The Minister added that the government will shortly create a Cultural and Creative Industry Council which will include participation from five other government ministries. In a presentation which clearly was meant to galvanize the Diaspora, Minister Grange told members of the Diaspora that the government was seeking partnership in working to accomplish the Legacy Projects. The Marcus Garvey Park and Museum in St. Ann is one such project. The redevelopment of the National Stadium which is slated to cost US$45 million is another Legacy Project. The redeveloped stadium will have a seating capacity of 45, 000. It was also announced that the government was seeking assistance in establishing a Creative Industry Satellite System to work towards capturing data and statistics on the cultural and creative industry (CCI), as a result the government has approached the government of Colombia in this regards. Minister Grange declared that the government has approach the United Nations, Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) with regards making an inscription of Reggae. “It is important we safeguard and protect reggae music”. She added that the global value of the Creative Industries totals 7% of the world’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).  
Financing of Cultural and Creative Industries
Subsequently, the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) in a recent policy move announced that it will be providing the initial capital for a multi-donor fund to improve the competitiveness of the cultural and creative industries sector in its borrowing member countries (BMC’s), including Jamaica. The Barbados based Caribbean Development Bank said it is making an initial contribution of US$2.6 million to the establishment of the Cultural and Creative Industries Innovation Fund (CIIF) as a pilot intervention, and it will also administer the fund. According to a release from the CDB, the CIIF will support the development of the creative industries sector, and encourage innovation, job creation and improved enterprise sustainability by providing grants and technical assistance to governments, business support organisations and academia that support the creative industries sector. It will also provide funding to creative and cultural entrepreneurs and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in CDB's BMCs.  Additionally, the CDB said the CIIF will primarily support projects identified in the priority sub-sectors: music, including production, distribution, sales and events; audio-visual, film, interactive media, animation and gaming/digital; fashion, and contemporary design; and festivals and carnivals. The fund is said to have three components focusing on: supporting the enabling environment; the development of sector data and market intelligence; and supporting MSMEs in the CIs sector to develop new products/services, implement new business models, improve employee and managerial capacity and access new markets.  This move will clearly be appreciated by those individuals who over the years have found it difficult to access funding for the cultural and creative industries and will undoubtedly spur economic growth.
In a response to a question regarding the limitation of cultural space, the culture Minister mentioned that the government was seeking to establish a State of the Art facility in Kingston to be used as a Concert Hall. Minister Grange said despite the limitations of resources, the government was looking how best to identify facilities outside Kingston to be upgraded and used such as school halls.  The minister implored artistes to ensure that they educate themselves regarding the business side of their craft and highlighted the Bob Marley Foundation as an example of how an estate can go about protecting their rights. In closing Minister Grange said that she was in favour of content quota regarding the playing of music. She gave Canada as an example of having such a policy in place in order to ensure that a percentage of local music is played. The Jamaica 55 Diaspora Conference was held in Kingston, July 23-26, 2017 under the theme: Partnering for Growth.
In the powerful words of Marcus Garvey, “a people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots”. 
Wayne Campbell is an educator and social commentator with an interest in development policies as they affect culture and or gender issues.