The Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC), through an upcoming $10-million (US$72,000) project, is seeking to move the needle forward for cultural and creative industries (CCIs) with hopes to have a more coordinated and strengthened position for players in the local ecosystem.
The project, titled 'UNESCO JAM NSS CCI — Economic and Social Impact of Jamaica's Cultural and Creative Industries', is being done in partnership with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). It serves as a follow on to a mapping exercise done in 2020 and is geared towards strengthening the operations of the local sector while validating its output through Economic Impact Assessments (EIA).
Collaborating with the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (Statin), the project will also ensure the build out of a framework that will allow the data processing entity to have better collection, analysis and reporting on CCIs going forward.
According to Harold Davis, deputy chief executive officer (CEO) of the JBDC, the idea is for all CCI practitioners, including those in entertainment along with government and all stakeholders to leverage the data collection for their own marketing or policy creation purposes.
"'We have been doing a series of consultations with the industry players all over the island to make sure that our data mining instrument that we have been developing will work well for everyone and come February 1, we are going to be rolling out the survey instrument to collect the required data. We are looking to have the data gathering done in two months and we have started to work with all the various clusters and industry associations as we look to get as much as 1,000 or more CCIs this time around, so that we can have a better or more accurate representation of what the economic impact for this industry is," he said in a recent interview with the Jamaica Observer.
The JBDC in its previous mapping exercise of over 500 local CCIs had sought to provide empirical data and a deeper understanding of the local industry as it aimed to value and measure the contributions from the sector to gross domestic product (GDP), employment and job creation. This while lobbying government and other stakeholders to shape better policies and to create substantive programmes of assistance for members of the industry.
Cited among the sectors hardest hit by the novel coronavirus pandemic, CCIs are largely seen as major driver of economies in both developed and developing countries. The UNESCO from its own surveys done globally has long found that output from the sector is often partially described, misunderstood and undervalued. The international body in a 2015 global mapping exercise indicated that CCIs were responsible for capitalising US$2.2 trillion and nearly 30 million jobs worldwide.
According to UNESCO's definition, CCIs are those operations whose "principal purpose lies within the production or reproduction, promotion, distribution or commercialisation of goods, services and activities of a cultural, artistic or heritage-related nature." These activities are normally channelled through a wide range of sub industries spanning music; film, television and broadcast; book publishing; digital media; culinary and gastronomy; gifts and crafts; visual arts; fashion; and the performing arts.
The JBDC, which has been actively tracking the progress of the sector, said that despite the significant number of steps being taken in the last few years, a lot more remains undone in bringing the sector to greater formality and in helping it to operate as a globally recognised and viable industry.
"This project is therefore a significant strengthening tool for our businesses and with a substantial percentage of the clients we now serve falling among CCIs, whether in the areas of food, visual or performing arts—we are expecting a lot to come from the study in terms of policy direction, investment proposals and large international partnerships," Davis also said.
"The project represents a step forward in tacking issues around informality, scalability and maximising monetisation for CCIs and we are very excited about it," he added.
Also pointing to other projects times for roll-out by the JBDC this year, Davis said the agency will be working feverishly to deliver on its mandate of entrepreneurship development.
"Last year we launched our essential oils incubator and this year we're looking to launch another that will focus on agro-processing. We're also looking to unveil another incubator during the year once approved, the details of which we are however not yet ready to disclose. This year we're focusing a lot on the incubation methodology, as for us it is a multiplier which will help to facilitate the long term growth of businesses," he stated.
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