The proposed amendments to the Cultural Industries Development Bill are currently receiving the attention of Government’s Chief Parliamentary Counsel, and Minister of Culture, Stephen Lashley, is hopeful that the improved Bill could reach Cabinet before year-end.
Mr. Lashley made the disclosure today while delivering the feature address at the Caribbean Entertainment and Cultural Industries Summit at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.
Emphasising the importance of the Bill, he said it was extremely critical to the development of the cultural industries sector, stressing that it would provide the platform from which those involved in the area could launch or advance their careers and businesses locally and further afield.
"When the Cultural Industries Development Bill becomes law, it will certainly contribute significantly to the development of our highly talented human resource, which has the potential to give Barbados a competitive advantage in the global market place within the creative sector.
"I say this because already Barbados has produced five music artistes, signed to major record labels. We can only anticipate even greater achievements, not just in music, but in other areas, when our cultural industries initiatives are implemented," he surmised.
Mr. Lashley pointed out that, among other things, the bill aimed to provide fiscal incentives as well as tax and duty free concessions. He added that there was a provision for a Cultural Industries Development Fund which could be accessed by registered artistes and cultural workers. "The process of registration is being worked on even as we meet here today," he told his audience.
He noted that Government was committed to the establishment of a special $50 million fund over a five year period, which would be activated through a Cultural Industries Development Act.??
He said Government was working assiduously to execute its vision for the creative sector and this was evident by not only the creation of the draft Bill, but the formulation of the National Policy for the Cultural Industries in Barbados.
"The National Policy for the Cultural Industries is based on the understanding that the cultural industry is a tool and a vehicle for positive social and economic development. The Government recognises that the cultural industries must be elevated and treated as a dynamic catalyst for the development of a diversified economy.
"We have, therefore, embarked on the development of this sector through a programme of infrastructure building, institutional strengthening, focused development expenditure and fiscal incentives supported by the necessary legislation," he stated.
The Minister described it as a multi-billion industry, which, if tapped aggressively, could make the difference in Barbados’ quest to be less dependent on traditional areas of economic activity. "It can generate for us more foreign exchange and offer hope of lasting engagement and employment to our youth," he suggested.