Jamaica is on track for a Creative Economy Act to protect and support its Cultural and Creative Industries

On 15 December 2021, UNESCO, the EU Representation to Jamaica and the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport (MCGES) Jamaica, held a first virtual National Team Meeting with institutions and members of Jamaica’s Cultural and Creative Industries (CCI’s) to advance the process of formulating a Cultural and Creative Industries Act for Jamaica.
This meeting was organized within the framework of the global project “Support for New Regulatory Frameworks to Strengthen the Cultural and Creative Industries and Promote South-South Collaboration” facilitated by the European Union and the UNESCO Expert Facility on the Governance of Culture in Developing Countries. This joint project aims to develop strategies to create legislation in the form of a Jamaica Cultural and Creative Industries Act, that will facilitate the streamlining of Jamaica’s cultural policies and administration of the cultural and creative industries.

At the opening of the meeting, David Brown, Director, Policy and Research at Jamaica Creative, MCGES, reminded the meeting participants from government agencies, international and regional organizations, as well as artists and creative practitioners from Jamaica, that the drafting of this Cultural and Creative Act for Jamaica must take into account the protection of all participants in the cultural and creative ecosystem. There is also a need to incentivize the private sector to collaborate with the creative sector and to establish policies that commit the government to address the needs of creatives, especially in times of need such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

The process of elaborating this Cultural and Creative Industries Act, in short, Jamaica Creative Economy Act, is guided by the international expert Ojoma Ochai, Director of Creative Economy Practice from Nigeria, and Ashley Cork, the national Consultant for the EU Expert Facility Project, Jamaica.

© UNESCO

In her welcoming remarks, Saadia Sanchez-Vegas, Director and Representative of the UNESCO Cluster Office for the Caribbean highlighted Jamaica’s rich tradition in the Cultural and Creative Industries that has evolved in a historical context largely based on the narrative, celebration, protest, and affirmation of its people, culture, and way of life.

According to the recent report elaborated through the UNESCO-funded project “Mapping Jamaica’s Cultural and Creative Industries”, the contribution of Jamaica’s CCI estimates to 5.2% of the country’s GDP, generating revenues of JMD 2.2 billion (about 14 million USD) annually, and accounting for 3% of total employment. “This is a remarkable contribution of CCIs to the sustainable development of Jamaica,” expressed Director Sanchez-Vegas.

The Cultural and Creative Industries have a unique role to play in the COVID-19 recovery, and any form of recovery will require astute and coordinated multi-layered public policy decisions and stakeholder actions.

Saadia Sanchez-Vegas, Director and Representative, UNESCO Cluster Office for the Caribbean

The pandemic has underscored the need for SIDS to embrace digitalization and economic diversification and to mitigate the impact of external shocks.. As the economy gradually recovers, Jamaica and the broader Caribbean must find ways to preserve, protect and fully prepare their entire cultural ecosystem to not only recover, but to thrive, which includes protecting the Cultural and Creative Industries.

Aniceto Rodriguez Ruiz, Head of Cooperation of the EU Delegation to Jamaica

The Cultural and Creative Industries have consistently demonstrated their capacity to positively impact national economies and societies during moments of crisis. Honourable Olivia Grange, Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport of Jamaica reported that there is positive news to draw from Jamaica’s Cultural and Creative Industries during the pandemic. “The CCI’s have not only survived the economic downturn occasioned by the pandemic, but some have registered growth in the face of the crisis, in while other industries and sectors have been devastating. In Jamaica we are still not properly identifying the economic contribution of our Cultural and Creative Industries to the national economy”, she adds.

Hon. Olivia Grange further underscored the need for the Jamaica Creative Economy Act, as it will help monitor the economic contribution of the CCI’s and formulate a national strategy for the development of the CCI’s. Furthermore, this legislation will better coordinate the arms of government that interface with the local system and ensure that the current and future needs of the sector are addressed, and the sector is formalized.

We need to create an enabling environment where creatives have incentives to produce, where the private sector is incentivized to economically support creatives, and where spaces, including housing solutions and production studios, are available to support creatives.

Hon. Olivia Grange, Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport of Jamaica

Ojoma Ochai presented the work plan for the period from February to April 2022, which aims to conduct stakeholder and international peer engagement workshops, as well as establish research and drafting committees. The expected outcome by April 2022 is a draft policy instrument to be brought before the parliament to pass as Jamaica Creative Economy Act.

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