Kingston Creative, through the recent official launch of its Crea-Tech programme initiative, is seeking to provide some 1,500 artistes, creative entrepreneurs and cultural practitioners with the opportunity to drive growth in the local creative economy.
The programme, which aims to diversify income streams and generate new jobs for players in the creative industry, particularly those operating within the downtown Kingston community, seeks to provide a lifeline for operators in the space as they try to re-emerge from the devastating effects of the novel coronavirus pandemic. It also seeks to help the country in tapping new economic drivers as it moves to diversify its economic base during and after COVID-19.
The programme is funded through a $196-million investment from supporting partners including the Inter-Development Bank (IDB), the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ) and the Tourist Enhancement Fund (TEF), among others.
The 36-month-long programme will pair the use of technology and creativity to drive growth within the industry as it also opens access to new business opportunities and accelerate the export of creative products and services.
“This island is a cultural superpower, producing world-class dance, music, literature, art, culture but economic growth has been very slow. We struggle with high debt, unemployment, poverty and crime and the economy is heavily reliant on tourism as a single driver so to recover faster from the impacts of COVID-19, we really need to harness our cultural advantage and find new economic drivers like creativity and technology as we seek to build back stronger,” said Kingston Creative executive director and founder Andrea Dempster Chung during the programme launch held last week.
The local creative industry, which is said to be valued at approximately $84.1 billion, provides a wide range of jobs for creative professionals operating in the country. In Latin America and the Caribbean, the industry is valued at US$124 billion and accounts for 1.9 million jobs while globally the industry is valued at US$2.3 trillion, generating almost 30 million jobs.
Through a 25 course certification courses to be led by the HEART/NSTA Trust free of cost for the three-year period, creative entrepreneurs will be provided with digital training among some other benefits including business and intellectual property registration, networking meetups, access to e-commerce, travel grants and business incentives. The programme is slated to run from February 2021- January 2024.
“Through the programme I'm looking to see how we can build capacity within our entrepreneurs to ensure that they can pair technology with their creative spirit, products and services and expand into new markets so as to generate more revenues and have more economic impact. It's a big opportunity which I believe by pairing our creative advantage with technology will lead to big outcomes that we have never really seen before,” said Dmitri Dawkins, entrepreneur development expert and CEO of Graft Ventures.