Minister of Tourism, Richard Sealy (FP)

The establishment of a film commission will assist Barbados in evolving as a mecca for audiovisual (AV) production by attracting local, regional and international film producers. This move should augur well for the audiovisual, cultural and tourism sectors.

This was disclosed by Minister of Tourism, Richard Sealy, this morning, as he addressed attendees at the Caribbean Tales Symposium, which was hosted at the Island Inn Hotel, Aquatic Gap, St. Michael.

Minister Sealy noted that the audiovisual industry was "big business" abroad, and Government acknowledged the potential benefits to be gained by Barbados and the region from its expansion.

"The Barbados Government has already pledged its commitment to the advancement of the cultural industries and, more specifically, the audiovisual sector.?? Certainly, the presence of a film commission in Barbados will go a long way towards harmonising and cementing the partnership between the Government and the AV industry and giving structure to the effort to develop it.

"I hope that with the enactment of the Cultural Industries Bill, which is currently receiving input from the general public, significant strides will be made towards establishing a film commission for Barbados," Mr. Sealy said, adding that this legislation would act as a cornerstone upon which this critical sector could be built and developed "for the empowerment of all."

Mr. Sealy noted that there was a direct link between the AV industry and cultural tourism, which presented "…a compelling reason to establish a smooth functioning, well-established film commission which will give impetus to Barbados’ cultural tourism effort.??

"I see the Commission developing local industry practitioners; bringing foreign productions to Barbados and promoting the Caribbean audiovisual sector.?? Through promotion of films, Barbados, the destination, will automatically receive promotion, so that the spin-off effects for the economy are clear," Mr. Sealy remarked.

Noting that there was evidence to suggest that the work of film commissions in several countries had boosted tourism arrivals and provided benefits for operators in the ancillary sector, the Minister stressed that the work of such a commission was vital, as it highlighted the country in ways which would encourage persons to visit.??

"…The entire audiovisual industry has a role to play that is not merely cosmetic.?? It can speak to the whole ethos of producing nations, allowing the opportunity for a country like Barbados, for example, to be seen through a lens that depicts much more than an island paradise, surrounded by stunning beaches and breathtaking views.?? It can speak to the emotions expressed by our people in a range of situations; to our prowess at our national game, cricket, even to the impact of tourism on our island home," he said.

Minister Sealy acknowledged that there was much to be done to ensure that the sector reached its full potential, and highlighted the fact that "…for one reason or another, [the industry] has not been in a position to take advantage of the opportunities made available through the European Partnership Agreement.??

"I am told that there are issues to be resolved and I believe that it would be useful if some time could be allocated in the course of this forum towards examining these issues to see how artistes can access the resources available," he said, adding that with the presence of the Film Commissioner of Guadeloupe, Tony Coco Viloin, some guidance could be offered on how to form partnerships with European film-makers.

During the symposium, Mr. Viloin will address the topic of Best Practices and Lessons Learnt from Film Commissions in other Caribbean Countries, along with Film Commissioner of the Dominican Republic, Ellis Perez, and Chief Executive Officer of the Trinidad and Tobago Film Company, Carla Foderingham.?? Other presentations include ???A business analysis of the Cultural Industries Bill of Barbados‘ with symposium co-chair, Ben Arrindell; and ???Capacity building for the film and digital media industry‘ with Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Family, Culture, Sports and Youth, Shirley Farnum.


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