A Game Changer: The Cultural Industries Bill
It was interesting to note Jamaica’s Prime Minister Portia Simpson’s perspective in the news last week about the importance of forging the creative/cultural industries and sport. She asserted that “these sectors have the potential to be important drivers of economic development.” Bear in mind Jamaica is light years ahead of all the countries in the Caribbean as far as leveraging theses two sectors. It is also noteworthy that Prime Minister Portia Simpson has responsibility for sports supported by a Junior Minister.
To Barbados’ credit we were informed in the lead up to the 2013 General Election that the Cabinet of Barbados approved the Cultural Industries Bill (CIB). It has been reported that the CIB will be one of the early bills to be read in parliament. It took five years to complete the consultative and drafting process and many of the stakeholders in the Arts sector now eagerly look forward to its implementation. However, others have reviewed the final draft and remain doubtful that it has the ‘meet’ to nurture and grow our nascent cultural industries.
One needs to go no further than page 8 of the CIB, “approved producer of audio-visual content means a film production company incorporated under the Companies Act…that is controlled by a resident of Barbados”. Does anyone believe any reputable film company is going to make films in Barbados with this precondition? What about non-Bajans who are resident in Barbados?
Culture is a wide area and BU believes it is a mistake to bundle so many of its strands under one Act. Why not have an umbrella Act with individual Acts directed to each area of culture e.g. The Heritage Act. The Audio Visual Act. etc. Perhaps this would jeopardize the plan to squeeze out the grant being sought after? With the economic slump being experienced by Europe grants are being radically slashed and Arts organisations throughout the EU have adopted a protectionist posture towards non-EU countries.
BU is perplexed why the 52-page CIB document would have taken all of the first term of a DLP government to produce a final draft. The local Arts Community should be disappointed but BU is aware that we are dealing with a fragmented group who have yet again been strung along by the politicians because of a passive disposition. They find it abhorrent to ruffle feathers even when it is apparent someone is being screwed.
Regrettably BU remains not overly optimistic after reading the CIB draft. More work for the boy. Good luck anyway!