Six years after the Cultural Industries Act granted duty-free concessions, figures in the arts and culture community are to finally receive the incentives.
Minister of Creative Economy, Culture and Sports John King made the announcement this afternoon at the National Cultural Foundation (NCF), West Terrace St Michael headquarters, alongside NCF chief executive officer Carol Roberts-Reifer, event promoter Freddy Hill of Fas Entertainment, Rudy Maloney of 4D Entertainment and Tracy Highland of Twisted Entertainment.
King disclosed that the duty-free concessions are to be accessible from Tuesday by cultural practitioners registered with the NCF.
“The process is very simple; first, we need to know who our cultural practitioners are, so what we are asking those persons out there is to go to www.barbadosartists.bb and register as a cultural practitioner.
“Once you have done that, it goes into a system that the NCF has access to and they are the ones who are going to certify who these artists are.
“Once they have certified, the next thing they are going to do is get a licence from the NCF which gives them the ability to go to Customs when they are importing and say look, ‘ I am a cultural practitioner, I am a certified one and I also have a licence which gives me the authority to import raw materials for whatever it is that I am doing’.”
The Minister continued: “You can be a bandleader and you need to get beads and feathers and glue and all these other things; you could be a visual artist; you can be musician and need pieces of equipment for your studio; a culinary artist; it covers a wide range of people.”
King said that registered members of the cultural community must register online at barbadosartists.bb for a certificate to be issued.
Practitioners must request a duty-free waiver which will be issued by the NCF upon verification by the Ministry of Creative Economy, Culture and Sport.
To receive the duty-free concessions, practitioners must present their Artist Registry Certificate, application for duty-free waiver and an estimated cost of the waiver to the Customs and Excise Department.
The Minister said: “We look at the various categories of cultural practitioners and we make sure that the things you are going to be asking for the concessions are tools of your particular trade.
“We want to make sure that the concessions are given to those persons whose businesses will directly benefit from it.”
King declared that a tax clearance certificate will no longer be required in order to qualify for grants from the NCF.
The Minister of Culture described the grant as a “landmark event” that would contribute to the development of the cultural industries and eliminate all the “red tape” that had previously hampered practitioners.
Commenting on the importance of Crop Over to the economy, the Minister of Creative Economy revealed the proposed creation of a Ministerial department devoted to entertainment.
“One thing we are going to have to seriously consider looking at as we go forward is having a unit within the ministry that is dedicated specifically to entertainment.
“When you start to think of it as a multi-billion dollar industry. We have got to do whatever is necessary to ensure that this 166 square miles benefit from that wide pool of money that is generated globally so we are going to need skillsets within the ministry to help guide not only policy but to help a framework where our cultural practitioners have the best possible chances to be the ones who benefit.
“Government is the facilitator but we have to create a framework that makes it a lot easier but also gives our people the exposure that they need in the rest of the world.”
NCF CEO Roberts-Reifer also spoke on the benefits of registering as a cultural practitioner and revealed that being a certified member allowed for not only concessions and allowances but also training and funding for practitioners.
She also pointed out that the new online platform allowed for more transparency within culture and entertainment.
“It also allows us to do is to measure the contribution of the sector because everything is now transparent.
“There can be no hide or seek, where in order to be prudent as possible you try to see how you can cut a corner to get your stuff done, we are saying it can be above board because you no longer have to pay the duties but you still have to pay the VAT too,” Roberts-Reifer said.
In immediate reaction, the president of the Barbados Association of Masqueraders Chetwyn Stewart suggested that Grand Kadooment bands might reduce the price of their packages next year if band leaders reap the benefits of Government’s duty-free waiver.
Announcing 15 bands joining the BAM at a news conference held at the Blackwoods Screwdock Monday evening: Stewart said: “If we have the concessions we would be able to save money.
“Fortunately, going forward with next year a band would be able to sit down and plan earlier and see what exactly they would save and reduce the price of the package because that is why we need the concessions.”
Stewart noted that the climax of the Crop Over festival has seen a depletion in local participation, which he attributed to a number of problems including the price of Kadooment packages.
With the official start to Crop Over in a matter of days, Stewart concluded that the duty-free concessions would still be beneficial to masquerade bands as some shipments have yet to reach the port.
He told reporters: “If from tomorrow things come through the airport… it will help in a great way because a lot of the things have to come in.
“A lot of the materials that would take long probably were purchased, they might not have reached the island yet like feathers but it is very good that when they come through now there should be no duties on those.”