Government Committed To Cultural Sector

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Minister of Culture, Stephen Lashley (second form right), enjoying the performance of the group Azman at the symposium. (A. Miller/BGIS)

Government’s commitment to the development of the cultural sector will not stop with the provision of the soon to be enacted Cultural Industries Development Bill.

This assurance came today from Minister of Culture, Stephen Lashley, as he addressed the National Cultural Foundation’s annual two-day Cultural Industries Symposium – Culture’s Leap from Sector to Industry – at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.

Mr. Lashley said the Bill would provide much needed incentives to encourage investment in the sector. "We are confident that this will enable us to lay a foundation which will allow our cultural sector to develop a robust and sustainable industry.

"… This process will not stop with the provision of a regulatory framework in which cultural practitioners can operate and ultimately an industry can flourish.?? While the legislation is designed to promote and nurture an environment in which involvement in culture can make the transition from hobby to professional trade, we are nevertheless aware that more is needed," he maintained.

However, he expressed the view that success in this area could only be realised through an inter-sectoral approach, and added that Government would build and strengthen synergies among private and public sector agencies. "Strategic partnerships must be developed if we are to create a dynamic and effective national product," he noted.

According to Mr. Lashley, the cultural and creative industries had become the major drivers of the global economy. He continued: "Even in times of recession, the cultural industries have continued to contribute significantly to the world economy, growing at an annual rate of 8.7 per cent, and surpassing many of the traditional industries such as manufacturing.

"The current global economic crisis notwithstanding, the film industry has continued to thrive. Performers like Rihanna, Beyonce and Adele, to name a few, continue to perform to packed audiences.?? Indeed, one might say that many of the copyright-based industries have basically continued to hold their own."

He lamented that developing countries, perhaps, with the exception of India, China and Brazil, had failed to exploit these industries. According to him, the situation was all the more distressing given the fact that many aspects of the cultures of Africa

and the Caribbean had an undeniably strong influence on the global entertainment industry.

"In many cases, an absence of infrastructure in the form of policy and adequate funding facilities has contributed to this dilemma among many developing countries. Here in the Caribbean we have not been concentrating our energies in the creation of valuable original products and services.?? Too often, we are content to see ourselves as consumers and not as creators and producers.

"But happily, this tide is changing. Barbadians are becoming increasingly aware of the value of their cultural expressions, and are seeing ways of exploiting their potential," he stressed.

Some of the topics to be discussed during the symposium include the Potential Impact of the Designation of Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison as a World Heritage Site and Heritage -Profit or Preservation.

sharon.austingill-moore@barbados.gov.bb

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