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Creative boom

The creative industries market is booming, says Pamela Coke-Hamilton.

The Executive Director of the Caribbean Export Development Agency said yesterday at the launch of the National Cultural Foundation’s e-Create Barbados Cultural Industries Symposium and Showcase which scheduled for next month, that 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.

She also noted that three years ago UNCTAD valued the industry at “US$600 billion with a growth rate of 14 per cent from 2002 to 2008” while the other sectors were in decline.

“According to the UNCTAD report, during the recession years traditional manufacturing industries experienced sharp downturns, while knowledge-based creative sectors proved more resilient to external shocks,” Coke-Hamilton said.

She noted that the creative industries was the only sector in which the Caribbean “has a comparative advantage vis-√†-vis other sectors and is also the only area in which the Caribbean enjoys a trade surplus with its trading partners”.

“The Caribbean, as a whole, excels and has produced pioneers in dance, in craft, in fashion, in music, in literature. We must recognise the vast economic potential of these creative pursuits and find ways to maximize their global earnings. A region which has created Calypso, Mento, Ska, Reggae and Dancehall, created the only musical instrument invented in the 20th century, the Steel Pan and produced artistes like Rihanna, Eddie Grant, The Merrymen, Jimmy Cliff, David Rudder, The Mighty Gabby, Sparrow, Kitchener, Shaggy, Arrow, Paul Keens-Douglas, Peter Minshal, Beryl McBurnie and Queen Ifrica should never experience balance of payments problems much less one of unemployment.

“The Beatles were in the top five foreign exchange earners for the United Kingdom in the 60s and Abba was in the top foreign exchange earners for Sweden in the 70s. Our artistes should be on that list for the Caribbean. It is now incumbent on us to embark on a collective creative journey to develop and support these and other past efforts; to capitalise on the multi-dimensional creativity of our people to further develop the creative industries, driving these towards becoming viable, sustainable world class businesses that create wealth, provide employment opportunities and contribute to critical foreign exchange earnings.

“It is time to convert our creative endeavours and innovations into thriving, global businesses that drive economic growth and provide additional gainful employment especially among our youth. It should be recalled that the creative industries are the only sector in which an artist continues to and even increases earning potential long after they are dead,” the Executive Director said.

She congratulated the NCF for its “vision and drive” in launching bold initiative which she said would be a “significant catalyst in the development and long term sustainability of the creative industries in Barbados”. (DS)

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