Minister of Creative Economy, Culture and Sports, John King, in discussion with OAS Secretary-General, Ambassador Luis Almagro at the opening ceremony of the Eighth Inter-American Conference of Ministers of Culture and Highest Appropriate Authorities at the Hilton Barbados on Thursday. (C.Pitt/BGIS)

Minister of Creative Economy, Culture and Sports, John King, has called on Ministers of Culture within the hemisphere to create a new culture, where the strong begin to encourage and lift the weak.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the Eighth Inter-American Conference of Ministers of Culture and Highest Appropriate Authorities on Thursday, at the Hilton Barbados, Minister King shared his vision for a level platform, where respect is given not based on size or wealth, but as a basic principle.

He appealed to those present to recognize the potential of the region, boasting that no other region in the world had the same wealth of dynamic creativity.  He noted, however, what was lacking in many cases was the will and conviction.

“Even as the international organizations and banks publish new figures on the contribution of the sector, there still appears to be an apparent lack of appreciation and understanding of the potential value of our cultural resources,” he stated.

However, Minister King identified the lack of relevant tools to calculate the economic contribution of these resources to development as one of the key hindrances to the region, which continues to have a negative impact on both funding and investment. 

Noting that Barbados, like many other countries was experiencing economic challenges, the Culture Minister posited the view that the cultural sector had the ability to change the fortunes of Barbados.

Minister of Creative Economy, Culture and Sports, John King, addressing the opening ceremony of the Eighth Inter-American Conference of Ministers of Culture and Highest Appropriate Authorities at Hilton Barbados. (C.Pitt/BGIS)

He singled out some countries which were making advancements in harnessing the economic power of the cultural sector.

“I must thank the Government of Colombia for its tireless work in the area of culture, which has led to the country being recognized as a leader in the research and development of the Orange Economy.  Three countries in the Caribbean now have creative cities – these are the Bahamas, Haiti and Jamaica; each year the list of UNESCO world heritage sites within our hemisphere grows larger.”

Minister King stated that among the group of OAS Member States there are best practices that could be shared and countries could learn from each other.

“What is needed is greater synergies and cooperation amongst us.  We can no longer go forward alone. As a block, we stand to make considerable inroads into the creative economy that is said to be worth billions. It would require all of us to have adequate legislation in place to protect our various sectors.

“It means building the necessary framework to enable cultural practitioners to be able to access each other’s markets. It means enacting regulations and developing cultural policies and providing access to citizens to quality cultural programming. Every effort must be made to sensitize potential funders, citizens, especially youth, that the creative sector is a viable business and occupation,” he stressed.

paula.harper-grant@barbados.gov.bb

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