Are we culturally prepared to accept a creative industry as a viable business sector?

This article was first published in the Stabroek News Friday Edition on March 17th, 2017.

In my last article I posed a question that got a lot of feedback, so I thought it best to address that head on. As I begin, it’s really important that we are all on the same page in regards to what encompasses a creative industry. According to the British Council, “At the heart of the creative economy are the cultural and creative industries that lie at the crossroads of arts, culture, business and technology. It includes thirteen sectors: advertising, architecture, the art and antiques market, crafts, design, designer fashion, film, video games, music, the performing arts, publishing, software, and television and radio.”

I believe, the easiest way to prove viability of this industry would be to attach an actual dollar value. In a January 2016 press release the UK Government stated that the creative industries is worth almost £10 million an hour. UNESCO published a global map of the creative and cultural economy and valued the US creative industry at $620 billion annually. What shocked even me, was the fact that in Latin America and the Caribbean the creative industry is worth $128 billion, and created 1.9 million jobs.

Here in Guyana things are happening. Last July a young entrepreneur, Jubilante Cutting, founded the Guyana Animation Network (GAN) with the aim of “raising awareness on the opportunities available in the Animation and ICT industries, for Guyanese.”

Ruel Johnson, Cultural Policy Advisor to the Ministry of Education, is working on creating policy that focuses on components of creative industry development, and education as well as ways to finance creative endeavors. He states that there are two big blocks in regards to bolstering a creative sector; first, intellectual property legislation, which is the cornerstone of any viable creative industry environment, needs to be in place and currently isn’t. Secondly, Mr. Johnson says, “A key challenge creative people have is that they are not necessarily business minded and we don’t have the infrastructure in place to help them with the business end of it.”

The Minister of Finance announced in the 2017 budget speech that an Institute of the Creative Arts is in the works that will carry a University of Guyana accreditation and run diploma programs. This is a step in the right direction. The Institute of Private Enterprise & Development (IPED), last year launched a program that set aside 50 million GYD in loan financing for businesses of a creative nature, specifically.

The industry needs help from both government and the private sector. We need better education and training, easier access to funding for startups and what I believe is critical, is guidance and mentorship to grow these young businesses.

What else can be done to progress the creative economy? I want to hear your thoughts and continue this conversation.