Region Needs To Cash In On Creative Sector

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Senior Business Development Officer of the National Cultural Foundation, Alison Sealy-Smith, as she moderated the panel discussion. (C. Pitt/BGIS)

This region needs to access some of the money that is circulating in the global economy which is being generated by the creative sector.

This view was expressed by Senior Business Development Officer of the National Cultural Foundation, Alison Sealy-Smith, as she moderated a panel discussion recently at the Barbados and Caribbean Day of Foromic 2012, at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.

Ms. Sealy-Smith said the cultural industries sector was growing in the global economy and had proven itself to be remarkably resistant to the vagaries of the recession.

"Global spending, for example, on entertainment and media [is] up 4.9 per cent in 2012, global royalty collections reached 7.5 billion Euros in 2009, the animation industry is growing globally at a rate of 12 per cent per annum, with an estimated worth of US 115 billion, [and] the fashion industry is estimated to be worth approximately US$1306 billion and represents 2.1 per cent of the global gross domestic product," she explained.

Consultant, Phil Phillips, added that the Caribbean was experiencing a high level of growth as it related to the cultural industries. He quipped: "This growth is manifested by the talent of the people of the region. My belief is that where the Almighty did not place tremendous resources in terms of geographical resources, He did make up for it at the innate creative level.

"I believe the Caribbean has greater talent per capita than most other places in the world… As a result of that, there is an explosion in the expression of the talent, whether it is at the level of the performing arts, the animation industry…"

Mr. Phillips pointed out that at least seven territories across the region had now established animation studios which could seat 15 to 25 persons.

However, he noted that there was a deficit in the regional industry at the level of entrepreneurial stimulation. "So, as a result of this deficit, we are not always able to capitalise on micro-financing because most persons who are participating in the cultural sector see themselves as the creator and not necessarily the person who maximises or exploits talent," he explained.

According to him, financing is at the core of any business. "My experience across the region is that while there are a number of agencies participating in the provision of financing or grant funding, there is a disconnect at the level … where the entrepreneur is able to quickly create the structure to satisfy the grant agencies or the micro windows.

"Most of the entrepreneurs who are seeking to exploit their talent are more focused on the creative side and, unfortunately, they do not necessarily invite people into the team or vision initially, who can complement them in the areas where they are deficient, which is the preparation of a business plan, for instance. So, as a result of that the time to really develop the business is extended and, of course, opportunities are lost as a result of the lack of a structured environment," Mr. Phillips declared.

He suggested that entrepreneurs who did not have that infrastructure should not be penalised, but rather, they should be assisted.

sharon.austingill-moore@barbados.gov.bb

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