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Tri-nation animators, experts strengthening Caribbean creative industries

Suriname was the hub of activities earlier this month to explore avenues for collaboration towards the development of the creative sector in the Caribbean as attention continues to be ramped up in the field of animation in the Region.

The Spang Makandra Creative Week was held there from 7–15 July, 2016, and brought together various stakeholders from Guyana, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago and the Diaspora.

Recently animation has been receiving more attention from governments, donor organisations, private sector and also regional financial institutions. CARICOM Heads of Government recommended last year that animation should be among sectors for prioritisd attention given its tremendous growth potential as an emerging sector in the regional context and for leveraging digital technology and positively engaging youth.

The Spang Makandra Creative Week began with a workshop on ‘Monetising the Creative Industry’ at the University Guesthouse. Members of the recently-launched Guyana Animation Network (GAN) engaged in discussions with their counterparts of the Suriname Animation Network (SAN), animators from Animae Caribe and the Diaspora, the CARICOM Secretariat and other professionals in animation, ICT and the creative arts on opportunities, trends and anticipated developments in the creative sector of the Caribbean.

Guest speakers were Caiphus Moore, Trinidadian-born and currently the only Caribbean Sims visual artist and game designer at Electronic Arts in the USA, and Camille Selvon Abrahams, award winning Trinidadian animator and Director of the Animae Caribe Animation and Digital Media Festival. Anushka Sonai, CEO of Spang Makandra, introduced in a brief and dynamic presentation the company’s growth in providing eMedia services since 2007 to national and regional clients.

The guest presenters shared with the audience personal challenges during their early years as emerging visual artists and their experience in growing into the game development and animation industry. Both experts pointed to the high competitiveness in this multi-billion dollar industry. A critical requirement for the artist on the road to success was to maintain a close relationship with the own identity and culture, which, according to Moore, was very strong in Japanese animation.

A panel comprising representatives from animation, audio visual and ICT sectors as well as from culture and creative industry policy level emphasised the need for organising the sector, networking and collaboration between artists in the Caribbean to enter local, regional and international markets.

The animation and gaming industry brings together a wide range of disciplines from the creative arts such as visual arts, music, drama, storytelling, puppetry and literature to expertise in ICT, research, finance, business and project management, policy and intellectual property.  Critical areas such as financing, skills development and policy support for the growth of the industry were also raised during the panel discussion.

Work sessions between animators and other experts continued in the following weekend in the district Coronie at the Totness Creations Festival held in the Coronie Community ICT Hub in Totness. The event was meant to raise awareness of the digital creative sector and its potential for sustainable economic growth for Suriname, Guyana and the Caribbean. Innovation, creativity and new media technologies were central at this event. Young persons from Coronie and Paramaribo, Suriname, as well as from Guyana engaged in workshops on animation, ICT, social media, music and development of sound for animation films.

 The activities in Totness, Coronie, included the celebration of the first anniversary of the Coronie Community ICT Hub. The hub was established on 10 July 2011 and was a gift from Telecommunication Suriname (TELESUR) to the people of the district Coronie. The Suriname-Guyana Submarine Cable System, which provides internet connection for both countries, reaches land in Coronie. The current Coronie ICT hub, which for various reasons has not been able to function optimally over the past years, has now been dedicated to support the development of the creative industries and ICT, among other functions. The new name of the facility is the ICT Centre Coronie.

The Hon. Sieglien Burleson, Minister of Trade and Industry was present at the celebration as well as other government officials and representatives from TELESUR, other businesses and organisations.  She expressed her support for the initiatives to strengthen the creative industry, including animation, and called for optimal use of ICTs and close collaboration at the various levels, including CARICOM.

 The Creative Week ended on 15 July 2016 with a Social Media Day.

About Spang Makandra

Spang Makandra is a full service interactive media studio employing some of the brightest minds and biggest talents in the Caribbean region. Spang Makandra provides internet marketing services and helps companies to communicate through the internet and develop an online identity and campaigns. Services: Webmarketing, Webdevelopment, Webmanagement, Design, e-Media, e- Marketing Consulting, e-strategy consulting, Social Media Marketing, Training and Consultancy.

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