The Mia Mottley-led administration has failed to execute a viable plan for the creative economy since it came to power in 2018, and that critical sector appears to be low on Government’s agenda as it seeks to navigate the economic fallout of COVID-19.
That was the view expressed by the People’s Party for Democracy and Development (PdP) Spokesperson on Culture Alan Springer as he continued his criticism of the Government’s stewardship of a sector that he believes is ripe for growth.
Just days ago, he slammed Minister of the Creative Economy, Culture and Sports John King for failing to properly develop and expand the creative economy.
On this occasion, however, Springer unveiled an extensive plan for the industry, which would see significant changes made to the structure of the Ministry of the Creative Economy and the National Cultural Foundation (NCF), giving creatives a greater stake in the decisions that affect them.
“The first thing to note is that the Ministry is to be unpegged from Sport, with a new title of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy. This allows both the creative and sports sectors the time and focus necessary to be developed as genuine economic engines. But it is more than just a name change. Under a PdP government, the role of the Ministry will change,” the proposal stated.
Under the Alternative People’s Plan for Culture and the Creative Economy, the NCF would focus on maintaining and developing cultural spaces such as museums and heritage sites instead of producing arts events. While the Foundation would continue to organize cultural events, including Crop Over, its role would be more of a facilitator and less of a producer, according to Springer.
The Barbados Arts Council (BAC), meanwhile, would be assigned staff and a budget to train and develop local filmmakers, photographers, musicians, and dance sectors that Springer believes are not currently performing at their full potential.
“Right now, the artists are simply providing a service for tourism and I am saying ‘no, that is not the role of arts’. The role of arts is to act as a separate creative industry that becomes an economic engine, putting money into the hand of the artists and into the economy,” Springer explained.
“Arts are about more than a cultural event. Art is about the production of a saleable commodity that puts money in the hands of the artist, and currently, the structure does not optimize the need for artists to become professionals working in a ministry that makes money from their creative work,” he added.
The PdP spokesperson insisted that the onset of COVID-19 was no excuse for the Government’s neglect of the creative economy, adding that the recent focus on capital projects over the next 18 months ought to have included plans for the development of these industries.
“Government is now in its third year, so I don’t think we can say that COVID is the reason we haven’t developed a structure [for the creative economy]. We are perhaps two or three years away from an election and our party is already talking about a structure. From day one, when we accede to government, we will be ready to roll,” Springer promised.
“I think the Government has definitely dropped the ball… and the things that we are talking about should have been talked about at least three years before the election, not now.”
The PdP’s plan also emphasizes the development of a fashion industry that uses local products to develop a “genuine industrial revolution”.
Springer also unveiled proposals to revamp the Pelican Craft Village as a centre of performing arts and street theatre, along with regeneration of the Independence and Heroes Squares as areas that pay homage to the country’s national heroes.
Read our ePaper. Fast. Factual. Free.
Sign up and stay up to date with Barbados' FREE latest news.