Minister of Culture, Stephen Lashley, making a point to his audience while (from left) Senior Business Development Officer at the NCF, Alison Sealy-Smith, Acting Permanent Secretary in the Division of Culture and Sports, Ernesta Drakes, Director of the Shridath Ramphal Centre for International Trade Law, Dr. Keith Nurse, and moderator Annette Nias listen attentively. (U.Gaskin/BGIS)

Barbados has another opportunity to further accelerate the pace of its economic development by using the creative sector.

This view was expressed today by Minister of Culture, Stephen Lashley, as he addressed a half-day inter-ministerial Dialogue on Cultural Industries at the Warrens Office Complex.

Mr. Lashley told the 55-odd public sector employees that "we need to heighten the level of awareness within Barbados in relation to the importance of the creative sector and the dynamics which revolve around that. We have depended on the traditional sectors for growth and to be engines of growth.

"We have not, to my mind, focused strategically on the importance of the creative sector and how it can impact on our quest to further diversify the Barbados economy."

He noted, however, that some developed and developing countries had zoomed in on the cultural industries as a potential for economic diversification and a spur for economic growth.

Dr. Sandra Browne of the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation expressing herself during the question and answer session.?? (U.Gaskin/BGIS)

Mr. Lashley pointed out that the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development 2010 Creative Economy Report indicated that since 2000, the creative economy was worth $2.2 trillion and growing at a rate of five per cent annually.

However, he lamented that of that amount, only a marginal contribution was made by all developing countries combined and he suggested that there was a need for those countries to gain their niche in the market.

Therefore, the Minister told the participants they had a critical role to play in the realisation of the objectives of the cultural industries. "To accelerate the pace at which we are going, we have to combine our collective talents and expertise, and that combination must not only be left to the private sector, it must also be driven by the public sector. The employees must see it as their role to help propel our focus in relation to the kind of earning capacity we can have," he stated.

The Cultural Industries Development Bill offers a number of incentives, concessions and funding mechanisms to ensure access to capital for cultural industry practitioners and businesses.?? According to Mr. Lashley, these measures were expected to reduce the cost of developing creative skills and of establishing and sustaining creative businesses. He added that they were expected to facilitate entrepreneurial development and create a climate conducive to philanthropy.??????

The Division of Culture and Sports has held extensive consultations on the Bill and Cabinet will soon consider the recommendations from the stakeholders.


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