CREATIVE SECTOR POST-COVID BUDGET STRATEGY 2021

Young Firemen Sailor. Photo by Rubadiri Victor

I will soon publish every single government plan for the Creative Sector to be found in the 5 relevant Budget documents. This is not that. This is about next steps in reaction to what was found in those Budget docs.

PREAMBLE

We have been abandoned. There is only us. We have to pick up this Sector and carry it on our backs and carry it to the place of Glory and Prosperity that we know it deserves. When the entire Film Sector is given TT$1.3 million (US $191,608.) to run an entire industrial programme you know you have been abandoned.

There is nothing in the Budget that can save this Sector. Nothing. WE have to get the Sector moving. Only we can save ourselves. We have to get people paid and employed and on work that will pay them royalties or value-added long after their exertions. We are going to create the conditions for this to happen. There are over 10,000 people who consider themselves Artists and who depend upon the Arts for significant parts of their earnings. 350 people received the $5000 grants!!!… 350 out of 10,000. Another 10,000 are seasonal and part-time artists who depend on the Arts and Festivals for part of their income during the year. The Artists Registry registered only 27 artists last year!!!! We are on our own. We can depend on no one.

Our industry is the 2nd largest on planet Earth earning $2.2 trillion annually, online it is what has kept the world sane during COVID. The Creative industries are larger than Oil and Gas and Manufacturing. Government has refused to understand this value and refused to enable and empower the Sector. We have to do this work now for ourselves. Here is the plan for the way forward:

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THE CREATIVE SECTOR FORENSICS ON THE NATIONAL BUDGET 2021

The hands of Fitzroy Coleman, Trinidadian, once the greatest guitarist in the world. Photo by Dexter Browne. Courtesy Generation Lion Magazine

There are 5 Budget documents. The full plan for the Arts is only visible by assembling all the pieces of projects in all of them together. Here are the various parts of the 2021 Budget plan for the Arts with my commentary:

COMMENTARY: THERE ARE A LOT OF INCENTIVES FOR A TECH ECONOMY IN THE BUDGET BUT MUCH IS AIMED TOWARDS RETOOLING THE PUBLIC SERVICE & TAX PAYMENT. THERE ARE ALSO A SET OF INCENTIVES TO ESTABLISH NEW TECH BUSINESSES. THE ISSUE IS THAT SEED CAPITAL FOR THE CREATIVE SECTOR HAS BEEN GUTTED. THE RUNWAY TO THE VIRTUAL ECONOMY FOR THE SECTOR ARE THE FILM AND MUSIC INDUSTRIES AND THEIR SUBVENTIONS HAVE BEEN REDUCED TO $1.3 MILLION AND $1.5 MILLION RESPECTIVELY. FOR ENTIRE INDUSTRIES!!! WE ASKED FOR $80 MILLION TO FUND FILM, FASHION, AND MUSIC AND GOT A LITTLE MORE THAN $5 MILLION. THAT CAN’T WORK.

  • GOVERNMENT IS NOW TALKING ABOUT A DIGITAL ECONOMY, THAT’S NOT WHERE THE WORLD IS. THE WORLD WAS AT THIS STAGE IN THE 1990S WITH THE VENTURE CAPITAL FUELLED TECH BOOM WHICH CREATED THE MODERN DIGITAL WORLD, THAT WAS THE 1ST PHASE OF TECH MORE THAN 25 ZEARS AGO.
  • FOR THE LAST 20 YEARS THE WORLD WAS IN THE 2ND PHASE OF THE DIGITAL ECONOMY WITH THE CREATIVE INDUSTRIES DOMINATING AS THE FRONTLINE INDUSTRY THAT WAS UTLISING AND MAKING DIGITAL PRODUCTS PRACTICAL AND PUSHING GLOBAL INNOVATION
  • WITH COVID THE WORLD IS NOW IN THE 3RD PHASE OF VIRTUAL BUSINESS WITH TECH NOW ABOUT TO BE INTEGRATED AT A MORE INTIMATE AND SOPHISTICATED DOMESTIC LEVEL. MORE PROCESSES AND FACTORS OF PRODUCTION WILL NOW MOVE ONLINE. DIGITALISATION IS MOVING INTO MORE NICHE AND DOMESTIC LEVELS BUILDING UPON THE CREATIVE ECONOMY APPARATUS
  • THE WORLD HAS PASSED ON FROM MERE STAGE 1 DIGITISATION A LONG TIME AGO.
  • THE WORLD WAS IN A CREATIVE INDUSTRY REVOLUTION THIS LAST 2 DECADES WITH AN EMPOWERED CREATIVE SECTOR THAT SAW THE RISE OF TENS OF THOUSANDS OF CREATIVE MILLIONAIRES AND A PROFOUND SHIFT IN POWER AWAY FROM MANUFACTURING AND EXTRACTIVE INDUSTRIES. IN THAT PERIOD T&T’S CREATIVE SECTOR COLLAPSED BECAUSE OF GOVERNMENT’S REFUSAL TO CREATE AN ENABLING ENVIRONMENT OF POLICY, LEGILSATION, AND INSTITUTIONS FOR IT. THIS IS DESPITE CREATIVITY BEING T&T’S COMPARATIVE ADVANTAGE
  • TO LEAPFROG INTO THE STAGE 3 DIGITAL ECONOMY WE STILL NEED TO CREATE THAT ENABLING ENVIRONMENT TO CAPITALISE ON THE STAGE 2 CREATIVE ECNOMY
  • THIS NATIONAL BUDGET STILL BELIEVES IN THE 19TH CENTURY EXTRACTIVE AND MANUFACTURING INDUSTRIES MODEL MORE THAN IT DOES THE 21ST CENTURY CREATIVE AND SERVICES INDUSTRY MODEL
  • IT BELIEVES IT CAN ENTER DIGITISATION STAGE 3 WITHOUT GOING THROUGH STAGE 1 AND 2
  • THIS IS A 19TH CENTURY BUDGET PRETENDING TO BE IN THE 1990S. IT MISSES THE 2020s CLEAN!
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CREATIVE INDUSTRY POST COVID MASTERPLAN

Retooling the economy after the COVID pandemic shutdown and global quarantining.

INTRODUCTION:

Courtesy James Hackett

Now that both parties have released their manifestoes — see here for comparisons — it is important that Sector voices present some of the best Sector thinking on the way forward.

The Artists’ Coalition of Trinidad & Tobago (ACTT) has been the primary Creative Industry lobbyist and representative group in T&T for 20 years. A mutating Creative Sector Masterplan has existed since 1997 and has been subsequently fed into by widespread consultation between groups, experts, and international agencies. Many of the working Creative programmes in the public sector came from these lobbies. The initiatives here come from three places.

  1. They include many International Best Practice policy, legislative, institutional, and fiscal tools that EVERY single economy that has profited in the annual US$2.2 trillion dollar Creative Economy has implemented.
  2. Some are relevant indigenous proposals from past T&T Sector Masterplans
  3. Some are adaptations of programmes currently underway in international Best Practice markets to advance post-COVID Creative Economies.

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NO POETRY- THE LOST OPPORTUNITY OF THE POS POWER STATION…

T&T politicians pretend they are modern, 21st century, and have a clue about Diversification- but the news that the Port of Spain Power Station will be demolished and wiped from our landscape with nary a whimper is a perfect example of how clueless our leaders really are. Trinidad’s political leaders are incapable of ‘the Poetic’- the ability to transform inert elements into value. They lack the creative gene- and many of the present lot seem to not even be capable of being ‘mercantile’… The annual global US$7 trillion Creative Industries are the second largest industries on Earth- and thrive on the poetic creation of value when none seems probable. Toys that cannot sell are made into billion-dollar earning movies- that then sells out warehouses of the same toys… Crumbling inner cities are converted into billion-dollar earning Creative Hubs… And in the UK the abandoned Bankside Power Station was converted into the multi-billion dollar earning Tate Modern Gallery…

tate modern courtesy visitlondon

Tate Modern Gallery

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BLACK PANTHER OPENS THE DOOR, THEN ONLY HALF STEPS IN

Estimated reading time: 50 minutes. SPOILERS INCLUDED

lead poster courtesy JoBlo.com image by disney

Black Panther is a game changing Afro-Futurist Pan-African artefact that is changing several playing fields in the world

There is no denying this cultural moment. The Black Panther movie has inspired the African diaspora with the vision of a Black and African superhero who leads an unconquered African nation that is the most technologically advanced on Earth that has built this from the ground up out of its ancient traditions. The movie has also assembled some of the most beautiful and gifted Black diaspora talents in front and behind the camera in an unprecedented big-budget Black movie epic about African subject matter set on the continent. Just on the strength of its trailers, its majestic art direction, and its strategic hype led by its beautiful diaspora-wide cast millions of Black people around the world have already been awakened to new possibilities of self and new imaginative frontiers. The vision of such a movie done on an epic scale by black writers, a black director, co-producer, production designer, and costume designer, and a storied multi-generational mostly Black A-list cast has inspired a groundswell of black diaspora arousal around the idea of an idyllic Black present and future. This article will attempt to critically assess the movie and the larger cultural moment that is cascading around it… Read the rest of this entry