Project aims to highlight real value of the creative industries

Robin Margetson (photo courtesy whensteeltalks)
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By Carlena Knight

[email protected] 

The creative industries – which include everything from steelpan to fashion design – will undergo a major data collection drive.

The culture mapping project is a UNESCO-funded initiative and will see information gathered to assess the sector’s economic impact in Antigua and Barbuda. The aim is to highlight the contribution creative industries make to national development, identify ways to increase participation in them, and lobby for more funding, among other things.

Project Manager of Antigua and Barbuda’s UNESCO International Fund for Cultural Diversity (IFCD) Dr Hazra Medica spoke to the importance of the project.

“How do you make policies? How do you decide how to invest in sectors and in industries where you have no idea about the basic things about the people practicing in the fields in this industry?” she told the Observer AM show.

“This is what this project is about. It’s about diversifying our development options. We have seen what the pandemic has done to our main industry. This has always been at the top of our agenda and it is even more important now to work on this project and ensure its complete success so that we fulfill that goal and improve things for cultural practitioners,” Dr Medica said. 

Director of Culture Khan Cordice also spoke to the relevance of the US$50,000 initiative. 

“We have no idea and when I say we, I mean as a country, have no idea what creative practitioners contribute,” he said.

“There’s no one section of the national budget or in national accounts that specifically deals with that and we are hoping that, at the end of this, after canvassing Antigua and Barbuda, we will be able to look at everyone that is contributing to this. 

“We will be able to see what these people are contributing. What range they are contributing and how significant is their contribution. Also, we are now in a Covid pandemic, the survey not just speaks about the pandemic but also pre-pandemic time so even from that survey we will be able to see the comparisons and the differences between the two periods,” Cordice added. 

Yesterday, an online survey was launched for persons to fill out on the Culture Department’s Facebook page while next week, for those persons who may not have access to the web, data collectors will contact them for information. 

Five data collectors will be deployed in Antigua and two in Barbuda.

Following the culmination of the data collection, which is expected to last for five months, two reports will be submitted to policy makers in the public and private sectors. One will contain recommendations and the other will outline obstacles hindering persons from playing a meaningful role in the creative industries. 

Submissions were made for funding for the project in 2018 and the twin island nation was one of eight selected by the IFCD from over 1,000 entries. 

The work is scheduled to end in January 2022 but Cordice said that similar initiatives will become a regular practice in future. 

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