One of the murals along Water Lane in downtown Kingston (Photo: JosephWellington)

THE local cultural and creative industries (CCIs) have received a shot in the arm with the recent release of a comprehensive study mapping the sector, commissioned by the British Council and the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC).

The report, titled Mapping Jamaica's Cultural and Creative Industries Phase 1 - Situation Analysis, noted that as part of the mapping of the local industries the data gathered aims to raise the profile of CCIs; reveal more about each cultural and creative sector; aid in the plan for future growth; engage leaders in the policy issues impacting CCIs; and support wider political, social and economic aims. The research was was carried out in early 2020 before the novel coronavirus pandemic lockdowns, with further consultations taking place remotely throughout the remainder of 2020.

“This study is a foundational step in Jamaica's development and support of its cultural and creative industries, building upon years of momentum and a growing confidence in the sector. This report assesses the nation's cultural and creative industries, identifying opportunities and challenges, and provides a foundation for analysing its economic and social contribution,” the report stated.

The subsectors taken into consideration are music; film, television and broadcast; book publishing; digital media; culinary and gastronomy; gifts and crafts; visual arts; fashion; and performing arts industries.

The report noted while not mandated to make policy or structural recommendations, the research has led to conclusions and corresponding recommendations to further support the growth of the CCIs in Jamaica and place them front and centre of Jamaica's future as a core expression of the nation's culture. It was further noted that CCIs are to be recognised for their important economic role in the modern, international economy, and a desirable driver of employment and social benefit.

Among the recommendations for the sector is the advancement of a CCI policy, advocacy on the sector and support for the industry.

“Building a strong institutional infrastructure through policy and sector coordination requires good data, sound policy positions, and the ability to speak with one voice to government representatives. Important for this is the establishment of a national convening or umbrella body representing and supporting the CCIs in Jamaica. Additionally, governance measures, such as a Creative Economy Act that streamlines policies, strategies and mechanisms across Jamaica's eight government departments and other support bodies in the CCIs, will play a vital role. Other recommendations include developing a skills strategy and cultural infrastructure plan for Jamaica's CCIs and advancing Jamaica's CCI value chain linkages to include networks and relationships domestically and internationally. There is a need to standardise and create processes that provide regular time series measurements of the progress of the CCIs together and individually, and to develop a data strategy with key performance indicators. Stronger performance measurement should be complemented with actions that raise the profile, understanding, and value of the CCIs in Jamaica.”

“Interventions to support CCI sectors in Jamaica should be holistic in addressing challenges and leveraging opportunities. A funding and financing plan could be developed to advance the availability of financial support to CCI stakeholders and optimise decision-making processes. Capacity building for artists; sector support structures; representative bodies, industry groups and associations is needed. Strategic partnerships and engagement with international partners will be critical to the success of CCI interventions. A human-centred, co-design approach will incorporate critical input from beneficiaries and ensure interventions are appropriate and effective,” the report continued.

In describing the local scene, the report further stated that while CCI's are highly fragmented in terms of sector coordination and collaboration, it could take more control of its own development and work more closely with Government, policymakers, and institutions. The CCIs have the potential to create a high number of jobs. Much of this creative sector employment can emerge in short periods of time and absorb labour from declining sectors of the economy.

BY RICHARD JOHNSON Observer senior reporter johnsonr@jamaicaobserver.com

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