Caribbean countries not tapping into creative resources

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Friday April 30, 2010 – A CARICOM Secretariat official is lamenting that regional countries are not maximizing opportunities in the cultural/creative industries, one of the fastest growing sectors of the world-economy.

The CARICOM Secretariat’s Programme Manager on Culture and Community Development, Dr Hilary Brown said member nations are losing out big, noting that between 2000 and 2005, trade in cultural goods and services grew at an average of 8.7 percent per year, while the value of world exports of creative goods and services was US$424.4 billion in 2005, representing 3.4 percent of world trade. 

She pointed out that the creative industries was the leading sector in more developed countries, noting that in the United States in 2003, for example, creative industries contributed six percent of GDP and accounted for 4.7 million jobs. 

Dr Brown contended that while there is an opportunity for developing countries to make “quantum leaps” into new value-added areas, they are not currently benefiting from the potential of their creative economies despite the richness of their cultural expressions, talents and diversity.

“Out of 132 developing countries, 85 have never produced one commercial film and can only account for three percent of world markets for paintings and approximately four percent for sculptures,” she said.

According to Dr Brown, the global demand for Caribbean creative industries was growing and provided good returns on investments, especially in literary works, fashion, festivals, and music. 

All this, she said, should redound to boosting the Caribbean economy, “if only we would tap into these tremendous possibilities.”

“It is time for the Caribbean to recognise what others have long discovered – that culture has great economic value and our region is poised to realize significant earnings from the many excellent cultural goods and services we produce, for which we are known and respected globally,” Dr Brown said.

She was speaking at a special symposium in Guyana to mark this year’s World Intellectual Property Rights Day where she noted estimates value the culture and creative industries at seven percent of the world’s gross domestic product. That figure is projected to grow at 10 percent per annum.