If governments within the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) are serious about developing the creative industry within the region, then financial resources must be urgently re-diverted into this sector so that it can become a champion of true regional economic expansion.
This was according to the Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport of Barbados, Stephen Lashley, during his address to the opening of the 25th Meeting of the Regional Culture Committee (RCC) being held at the CARICOM Secretariat in Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown.
The RCC has had a long history of advising Ministers of Culture in the Council of Human and Social Development, and has been instrumental in shaping cultural policies at the national and regional levels.
Lashley thanked the RCC for their continued advice on culture-related matters which he said, is often done with little human and financial resources.
“I believe, of course, that it is time to turn that around and to divert some of the resources given to other sectors to this very key and emerging sector. It is time that our region put its money where their mouths are.
Lashley said that “quite a lot of money” is going into some of the sectors that are traditional in nature however, they are “not necessarily” giving the kind of return that is needed.
The Minister spoke of the positive effects that a vibrant creative sector can have on youth in general.
“Young people will become more productive and innovative and they will begin to lead the world as true champions of true cultural integration and cultural innovation.”
Not only does a vibrant creative sector aid in youth development, it also holds the key to the urgent diversification of the region’s economies, he said.
Lashley made references also to the creative industries in other countries which are yielding huge economic benefits.
“We need not look very far to see the huge economic benefits of this sector to the economies of other countries. For example, the United Kingdom (UK)’s creative industry contributes almost $90B to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). It accounts for one in 11 jobs – a rate rising more quickly than all other parts (sectors) of the UK economy.”
Lashley said that South Africa, in 2014, conducted a Creative Industries Mapping Study which showed that the industries would have created between 162,809 and 192,410 jobs – about 1.08 percent to 1.28 percent of employment in the country. This contributed to approximately nine percent to the country’s GDP.
Globally, according to a report from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and a consulting group, the creative economy employed nearly 13 million persons worldwide and generated $2.25 trillion in revenue or three percent of the world’s GDP in 2013.
This, Lashley said, is substantially more that the global telecommunications earnings which amounts to $1.57 trillion and greater than the GDP of India, Russia and Canada.
Delivering remarks at the event also, was the Director of Human Development attached to the Directorate of Human and Social Development of CARICOM, Myrna Bernard.
The Director said that the RCC has also been actively engaged in advising on issues of culture, trade and the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) over the past decade.
“Directors of culture have reviewed and advised on the free movement of artistes under the CSME and also provided advice during the negotiations of the cultural Protocol Three, which forms part of their Economic Partnership Agreement.”
A new area of focus for the RCC agenda is the issue of reparations for native genocide and slavery.
“To pursue reparations from former colonial governments in Europe for these crimes against humanity…The actions of Caricom has re-energised the reparations movement in the United States and inspired actions in Brazil, Canada amongst other states.
Additionally, the United Nations has proclaimed an International Decade for People of African Descent which commenced in January 2015. This requires the attention and action of member states.”
Bernard told the gathering that the RCC continues to play an important role in advancing cultural development in the region and remains committed to the ideals of the founders of the forum who saw culture as central and pivotal in building stable, cohesive societies based on respect for cultural and ethnic diversity.
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