JAMAICA | Julian Robinson goes to bat for the Cultural and Creative Industries

JAMAICA | Julian Robinson goes to bat for the Cultural and Creative Industries

KINGSTON, March 14, 2022 -  Jamaica needs to seriously pay attention to the development of the Creative and Cultural Industries in order to unleash the vast potential of unrealized opportunities that lie within the global creative economy for Jamaicans .

This is the word from the Opposition Spokesman on Finance, Julian J. Robinson, as he delivered his response to the government’s budget presentation in parliament, noting that "investing in the Creative and Cultural Industries in the face of a rapidly changing global economy is one sure
way we can narrow the gap and uplift our people."

"We won’t secure our place in this global creative economy by accident. We need to be deliberate and strategic.  “We need to take it seriously,”  says Robinson who is the member of parliament for the constituency of South East St. Andrew and a former general secretary of the opposition Peoples National Party.

“What do I mean by taking the Creative and Cultural Industries seriously? It’s recognising that it is much more than dance, stage shows and round robins, and that there is much more to be done on a policy and governance level to reach our full potential as a people,” Julian Robinson said.

He pointed out that the Cultural and Creative Industries was a massive, dynamic industry, where the contribution of its members and the contributions of others is not respected and recognised as they should be.

This includes actors, dancers, singers and players of instruments, chefs, stage managers, publicists, designers, visual and performing artists, etc where  the scope for excellence for our people is unlimited, he said.

Robinson pointed to the economic potential of the industry where,  as Jamaicans there have been clear success stories and around the world people know Koffee, Spice, Shaggy, Usain, Shelly-Ann and others, who represent one percent of Jamaica’s cultural and creative industry practitioners. Imagine if we can tap into the potential of the majority.

He noted that “In 2020, the music industry globally represented US$23 billion. The global sports market reached a value of $388.3 billion in 2020, and is expected to reach $826.0 billion by 2030. The global film and video market is expected to reach $410.6 billion by 2030. Jamaica needs to secure its place in this global creative economy. We won’t secure our place in this global creative economy by accident. We need to be deliberate and strategic. We need to take it seriously,” Robinson declared.

“The first thing we need to understand and accept is that the Creative and Cultural Industries is a complex ecosystem, and not a monolithic concept. Within the Creative and Cultural Industries, there are no fewer than 20 subsectors, and within those 20 subsectors, over 40 industries that can be identified, each with attendant activities, linkages, and products.”

“What obtains now, Madam Speaker, will not move us along a holistic, sustainable path for development of these industries. Right now, for instance, the governance structure supporting the Creative and Cultural Industries is spread across no fewer than 6 ministries:

  • Broadcasting falls under the Ministry of Information
  • Film is under JAMPRO at the Ministry of Investment and Commerce
  • Radio spectrum and telecoms fall under the Ministry of Science
  • JCDC is under the Ministry of Culture
  • Animation is under OPM
  • Culinary arts and craft are the responsibility of the Ministry of Tourism
  • If an event license is needed, it requires navigating between the Ministry of Local Government and the Police, who fall under the Ministry of National Security.

The practical result of this fragmentation is that some of our practitioners fall through the cracks. He gave an example of a potter “who is registered on the Creative registry, but when the Government assigned its relief funds last year under the CARE programme, my friend went on the website, but found that his sector was not identified. Now Jamaica has a rich heritage of potters like Cecil Baugh and Gene Pearson, but the Government forgot about potters. They had relief for musicians, actors, animators, videographers and more, but no potters. How many other subsets of creative practitioners did the Government fail to capture or accommodate,?” he questioned.

“This absence of structure and fragmentation in governance is then replicated in the Jamaica Industrial Classification done by STATIN in recording the contribution of the Creative and Cultural Industries in the National Accounts.

"Notably, Madam Speaker, its contribution to the economy is almost certainly under-recorded,because although various aspects of the industry are recorded, they are not identified collectively as inputs from the Creative and Cultural Industries.

“Even within the Government, we have no full account of the cultural and creative assets and resources within the public service. One low hanging fruit would be simply to conduct an audit of the creative and cultural industries.

“We need information and data in order to plan properly. How else can we leverage and maximise the full potential of these assets? we need to make some fundamental decisions on how we deploy our resources in support of development.

“Taking the Creative and Cultural Industries seriously, requires a recognition that these assets are worthy of Government attention, policy solutions and investment. It will need discussion, consultation and re-education of our leaders and technocrats, and we must begin now.

"Investing in the Creative and Cultural Industries in the face of a rapidly changing global economy is one sure way we can narrow the gap and uplift our people, the Opposition Spokesman on Finance declared.

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