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Put your money where your mouth is, says Barbados culture minister
Published on June 23, 2017 Email To Friend    Print Version

(L-R) Myrna Bernard, Director Human Development, CARICOM Secretariat, Stephen Lashley, Barbados Minister of Culture, and Dr Hilary Brown, Programme Manager, Culture and Community Development, CARICOM Secretariat

GEORGETOWN, Guyana -- Minister of culture, sports and youth of Barbados, Stephen Lashley, is of the view that regional governments needed to redirect some of their resources to the cultural industries if they were truly interested in regional economic expansion and development.

He said funding that was going to some traditional sectors that may not necessarily be bringing in the returns that were needed could be diverted to the cultural industries. The minister was speaking at the opening ceremony of the twenty-fifth meeting of the Regional Cultural Committee at the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat in Georgetown, Guyana, 21-23 June 2017.

In his remarks, Lashley pointed out that when the CARICOM heads of government met at the twenty-sixth inter-sessional meeting in The Bahamas in February 2015, they recognised that cultural and creative industries represented a sector with great potential to contribute to the economic development of the region.

According to the minister, the heads reaffirmed the significance of the cultural and creative industries to CARICOM integration, to the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME), for cultural identity, diversity and youth engagement. He said they also agreed to place greater emphasis on a development pathway based on knowledge and the creative economy and by leveraging the human, cultural and national assets of the Community, for development in all its dimensions.

The minister also put forward the view that cultural and creative industries held the key to the urgent diversification of the region’s economies.

“We need not look very far to see the huge economic benefit of this sector to the economies of other countries. For example, the UK’s creative industries contribute almost £90 billion net to GDP; it accounts for one in 11 jobs, a rate rising more quickly than all other parts of the economy. These jobs are also among the least likely to be lost to automation,” Lashley said.

The minister invited the gathering to examine other statistics, pointing to South Africa, which did its first cultural and creative industries mapping study in 2014, and which showed that the industries had created between 162,809 and 192,410 jobs, about 1.08% to 1.28% of employment in the country, and that they contribute 2.9% to GDP.

Citing a report from UNESCO, Lashley outlined that the creative economy employed nearly 30 million people worldwide and generated $2.25 trillion in revenue -- or 3% of the world’s GDP -- in 2013. This, he said, was substantially more than global telecommunications ($1.57 trillion) and greater than the GDP of India, Russia, or Canada.

Turning to the Caribbean Festival of Arts, CARIFESTA XIII, the culture minister pointed out that the RCC meeting was happening when the region was at the height of preparations for this event, scheduled for 17-27 August 2017 in Barbados.

“It is an honour for us in Barbados to host this mega arts and cultural festival that is so highly valued by all of us, for the second time. We are very committed to realising the ideals for which the festival was created: to showcase the excellence of Caribbean arts and culture; to foster a vision of Caribbean integration and unity; and to provide real opportunities for artistic and cultural development in our region.

He said the main focus of this 13th edition of CARIFESTA was on strengthening the region’s creative industries.  He said a feature of the event will be an expanded marketplace with a buyers shopping mall at the CARIFESTA XIII Grand Market at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.

CARIFESTA is CARICOM’s premier arts and culture festival since 1972. This roving event attracts artists and culture professionals from more than 30 countries in the region and has been held 12 times across eight member states. The main purpose of this event, which was a mandate of the CARICOM heads, is to celebrate the arts, foster a vision of Caribbean unity while advancing Caribbean culture regionally and internationally.

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