JMEA, JAFTA want more support for orange economy
Calls are being made for the financial sector to provide moresupport to the creative industries.

DEPUTY president of the Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association (JMEA) Jerome Miles is calling for more private sector support for the local creative and cultural industries in light of the devastation suffered by some stakeholders due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking recently at BluShip Cargo & Freight-sponsored Corporate Linkages Media Briefing on the Trade in Cultural Goods, Miles highlighted that the cultural and creative industries — otherwise known as the orange economy — suffered the sharpest economic losses.

“It is estimated that the creative industry globally has suffered losses in the region of 20 per cent to 40 per cent. The data also suggest that self-employed individuals have experienced higher levels of income loss and unemployment than other categories of cultural and creative workers,” he stated, adding that UNESCO conservatively estimates a loss of 10 million jobs and US$750 billion in gross value-added in 2020.

Prior to the pandemic the orange economy was one of the fastest-growing sectors of the world economy, contributing to income generation, job creation and export earnings.

While noting that the sector needs engagement, creation and the proper economic environment to thrive, Miles pointed out that Jamaica is faced with the challenge of “creating an environment that will attract investors” given the level of crime on the island, which acts as a deterrent. The JMEA deputy president also lamented the dearth of creative spaces.

“We need more dedicated spaces and entertainment zones to help facilitate and spark creativity and engender linkages in both import and export of culture. These spaces will catalyse the cross-fertilisation of ideas that will in turn enhance the creative output and drive the monetisation of the industry,” Miles said.

He added that while the pandemic has forced a transition from physical spaces for entertainment, Jamaica should not miss the opportunity for digitisation. So far, he argued, many have not been able to adopt to the digital economy.

“The role of the private sector in this regard is not limited to financing and investment. Our innovative capacities as a sector, business acumen, facilities and technological capabilities are other contributions that can be made to the creative industry. These skill-sharing opportunities can provide members of the creative industry with the environment and necessary tools — training and finance — that can facilitate the emergence of the creative clusters and innovation hubs. In so doing, providing avenues that engender sustainable economic growth in the creative and cultural space,” he reasoned.

In the same vein, Jamaica Film and Television Association President Saeed Thomas outlined the challenges besetting his subsector and the need for collaboration to overcome them.

“Although JAFTA represents one sect of the creative industry, I think it is safe to say that that our biggest difficulties have been procuring equipment such as props, cameras and lights,” he explained, adding the shipping costs and the ability to move equipment regionally have been hindrances.

“I know this needs to be a bigger conversation but I believe the ease of movement regionally would expand the creative industry. For example, international broadcasting companies are less willing to travel with equipment and crew to do their sporting competitions but sometimes they have no choice because many times the price works out similarly when we as locals are to move regionally with our equipment and talent to facilitate them,” Thomas added

To this end, he proposed “greater collaboration” between industry associations like his and other business interests to formalise members of the creative community. This, Thomas said, would not only help large businesses in the creative industry but also standalone practitioners, to access finance.

While noting that the orange economy has grown, Thomas recognised that there are still major hurdles to overcome to survive and that his association is “willing to have these conversations, make recommendations and support the implementation of new thought and building our creative economy”.

President of Jamaica Film and Television Association Saeed Tomas
BY JOSIMAR SCOTT Senior business reporter josimar@jamaicaobserver.com

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