Calls to develop the creative industry to address Covid fallout

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By Carlena Knight

A former director of policy and planning has made some suggestions to help the government mitigate the financial fallout from Covid-19.

Cortwright Marshall, during a recent Observer interview, said that the ABLP-led administration “will need to focus on the domestic resources” to curb the crisis.

While admitting that more focus should be placed on the agriculture industry, Marshall, who is also public relations officer for the opposition UPP, said growing the creative industry could reap benefits.

The sector encompasses music, publishing, film and video, crafts, visual arts, and fashion, among others.

“We have to develop the creative industry,” Marshall said. “The music, the entertainment, the drama, and open up the various communities, so that we can create employment opportunities directly in those communities and when we do that we will lessen the movement of people from communities to St John’s where we create a slum environment.”

Deputy Director of Culture, Khan Cordice, concurred.

“It’s something I certainly agree with and I know that is something we are actively trying to work on. We do know that there are some limitations right now as it relates to people getting back out there in social gatherings, but one of the things that I would have noticed before I got into this capacity was the effect of  — and I am going to use them as an example — the feting industry.

“When you look at fetes, it’s not just the event itself; you are looking at multiple vendors being utilised. From the hair salon to beauty products, clothing, drinks, food, you name it — the lighting and even sound.

“So, when you look at the creative industry you can see it’s not just culture, music, dance but it’s also media production. Things like the fashion designers and craft and I think that if we can find a way in which we are actively working on right now to have these sort of events or these aspects of the creative industry and have them function then we will be able to see a much more vibrant economy in Antigua and Barbuda,” Cordice said.

The cooperative sector was another avenue that Marshall highlighted, “as foreign investment is not much of an option during this time”.

“Bring local Antiguans and Barbudans together. Pool their resources together. Pool their production from farms and package it well, so they can send it to the hotels and supermarkets. This will deter them from bringing them in from overseas,” Marshall said.

“The cooperative sector is a critical sector that can pull the economy out of this crisis because we are not depending on large foreign investment, as investors are not investing due to the uncertainty and risk factor.

“Why not mobilise our local capital? The money will remain in Antigua and Barbuda and create employment opportunities among the people so we can slowly but surely move the economy out of the crisis into some stability,” he added.

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