As the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) continues to create the enabling environment for Cultural Industries to thrive, people involved in the creation, production, and distribution of cultural products could soon access additional sources of financing.
Dr. Hilary Brown, Programme Manager for Culture and Community Development within the Directorate of Human and Social Development in the CARICOM Secretariat said the recently-concluded 26th Meeting of Regional Culture Committee (RCC) included “a very important discussion on financing culture.
At a time when the sector was “strapped for resources,” she said the Directors of Culture were informed of financing mechanisms from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States Secretariat, Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), and Caribbean Export. They received ideas on building partnership and insights into funding mechanisms that “we were not aware of before and some of the changing mechanisms for funding,” she said.
Dr. Brown said that creative and cultural entrepreneurs would be able to submit proposals for funding when the CDB operationalised the Creative Industries Innovation Fund (CIIF) later this year. With a start-up capital of US$2.9M, the facility is intended to be a multi-donor fund to encourage innovation, job creation and sustainable capacity-building of the sector.
When launched, the CIIF will fulfill a mandate of CARICOM Heads of Government given to the CARICOM Secretariat at their Twenty-Sixth Inter-Sessional Meeting in The Bahamas in February 2015. CARICOM Heads had directed the CARICOM Secretariat and the CARICOM Development Fund (CDF) to collaborate with CARIFORUM, Caribbean Export and the CDB to identify donor resources for financing the development of the cultural and creative industries. The CDF and the CDB were also asked to collaborate, in consultation with the CARICOM Secretariat, in the design of a mechanism for sustainable financing of these industries which would include private sector resources and partnerships.
Dr. Browne said the 2015 endorsement by the Heads of Government reaffirmed their commitment to cultural industries as “a point for growth and job creation.” Endorsements from the Ministers of Culture and Ministers of Trade also signalled that this was an area to which CARICOM was committed, she added.
She said focus in strengthening the sector had been twofold through the Draft Regional Development Strategy and an Action Plan which were approved by Ministers of Culture at the Twenty-Second Meeting of the Council for Human and Social Development (COHSOD) on Culture and Youth, in Guyana in February 2012.
She said that Member States had been providing periodic updates on their progress in implementing the 12 priority actions COHSOD had identified to support the enabling environment for the creative industries to thrive. Those priority actions include updating national culture policies, enacting cultural industries development legislation to incentivise the sector, introducing a regional cultural exemptions regime, establishing national registries of artistes, as well as training and other forms of human resource development.
“All of these mechanisms will enable governments to better support the sector and to collect data to that will better inform policies,” Dr. Brown stated.