Minister of Culture, Stephen Lashley, addressing the opening ceremony for the consultation, while Lecturer in History and Cultural Studies of the UWI Cave Hill Campus and Master of Ceremonies for the event, Dr. Marcia Burrowes (left) and Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Culture, Shirley Farnum, listen attentively. (A. Miller/BGIS)

Very successful!

That is how Minister of Culture, Stephen Lashley, described last Saturday’s one-day consultation on the Cultural Industries Development Bill.

Mr. Lashley said he was "very impressed" with the numbers that turned out to represent the stakeholders in the cultural industries sector. "The level of participation was extremely high and the feedback coming from the stakeholders regarding the relevance of the consultation was good. The cultural practitioners welcomed the idea of moving towards a legislative regime which would promote their future.

"… We received a lot of recommendations and several of them will assist in improving the draft Cultural Industries Development Bill. This piece of legislation will redound to the benefit of the cultural industries sector which government is seeking to invigorate," he stated.

During the opening ceremony for the consultation, which was held at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, Minister Lashley argued that the proposed legislation "sends the clearest signal to date that we have dragged our feet for too long". But, he stressed that "it should also send a clear signal to you that you need to get serious about your business ventures in the creative sector".

He pointed out that the creative sector remained one of the most resilient to recessions and times of disaster and assured his audience that government would "stay the course" with them so as to ensure the sector realised its full potential.

He said it was unfortunate that in spite of the proven immense talent and potential within this emerging sector, some people were not according it the importance it deserved. "I do believe that tackling unemployment, especially among our youth, depends greatly on how we position the creative sector," he suggested.

The Minister indicated that since 2000 the creative economy was worth $2.2 trillion and was growing at a rate of five per cent annually. But, he noted that the old economic model of depending almost exclusively on foreign direct inflows for survival had not worked in Barbados.

"We clearly need to try new things and have new visions if we are to have sustainable economic growth. My view is that a crucial part of that new focus must be on the creative sector," he said.

Acknowledging that this island was fast becoming a venue of choice for some of the world’s wealthiest movie makers, he pointed out that there were some brilliant young entrepreneurs here who were capable of making successful movies. "The Government is closely looking to this sector as a key source of new opportunities for our youth. We are hard at work establishing a Films Commission to intensify our efforts in this exciting area of audio-visual," he disclosed.

Mr. Lashley contended that the Bill would represent a turning point in the businesses of cultural practitioners and the role that sector would play in the country’s economic development.


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