PRESS CONFERENCE: CULTURE, CRIME, DIVERSIFICATION & THE COMING RECESSION YEARS
Place: Communications Workers Hall, Henry Street, Port of Spain
Date: Tuesday 20th March 2016
Conveners: ACTT & FITUN
Present: Joseph Remy President FITUN; Rubadiri Victor President ACTT; Alette Williams National Dance Association/ACTT member; Ashton Cunningham Fire Services/FITUN member
The Artists’ Coalition is calling on the Honourable Prime Minister and the government of Trinidad and Tobago to utilise Culture and the Creative Industries: as the arrowhead industries to lead the Diversification thrust of the nation; as an instrument to deal with crime; and as the force to cushion the blow of the recession for working class communities in the next 3 years,
- The Creative Industries are the second largest industries on planet Earth with earnings of $2.2 Trillion annually recorded since 2001 with a then growth rate of 5% (Hopkins 2001).
- The UK just released their Creative Industry data for 2015 and recorded that they were now earning £230.4 million (TT $2.3 billion) a day (!) from that industry.
- That industry’s growth rate of over 8% is many a percentage point over their traditional industries like energy and manufacturing.
- ACTT believes that the local Creative Sector could raise its annual foreign exchange contributions to the economy from its current plateau of $1.5 billion to over $6 billion+ in 5 short years.
The Minister of Finance has said that the current recession will last until 2019. ACTT has crafted a 3 year plan to grow the local Creative Sector geometrically whilst mapping the entire process. ACTT sees the initiative rolling-out alongside a Buy Local/Economic Patriotism initiative it will be partnering with other stakeholders on. The Creative Industry initiatives are critical because the country has invested billions in subsidising Arts education through GATE and the Academy of the Performing Arts- and is now losing its best graduates to Brain Drain because it has invested nothing in facilitating an Industry to receive these graduates.
The ACTT plan which was generated through consultation over many years has three parts:
- The first entails implementing the foundational Creative Industry enablers that past administrations have failed to engage and which many nations in the world have put in place since the 1920s! These interventions are urgent given that certain parts of the Sector which can be extremely successful are currently in artificial collapse because of the absence of these international Best Practise enablers.These foundation programmes include:
- ratifying a National Cultural Policy,
- ratifying a National Heroes Policy, and
- passing the 50% LOCAL CONTENT Quota legislation for Radio & TV.
- There are also 4 Cabinet Notes from the last administration that need implementation. These include:
- the implementation of the National Arts Council and
- the Regularisation of the land tenure of all Pan Yards.
Whilst ACTT is pleased with the interest of this government in Heritage preservation marked by the Cabinet committee for the Magnificent 7- the Heritage Industry needs to go beyond this. Currently operating at a net loss, Heritage can be earning over $1 billion annually if sensitively engaged. To do this we need to:
- urgently create a National Heritage Warehouse to save, store, curate, and display an array of jeopardised valuable Heritage material. This building will be the foundation Heritage Institution of the industry;
- the appointing of the Boards for the National Trust and National Museum;
- the need to create separate National Gallery and National Hall of Fame Buildings as the arrowhead income earning institutions ;
- the Programming of at least 12 multi-million dollar earning Heritage Destinations at International Best Practice levels.
- There are also major issues to be dealt with as regards the Grey Friars Site & the utilisation of the T&TEC/Powergen Power Station site before it is dismantled.
Because issues have gone abegging for over 5 decades there are also urgent matters of National Arts Administration that must be seen to:
- the Regularisation of Sector Subventions for representative groups and
- the creation of an administrative office hub for groups.
- The second part of the ACTT plan entails going after global markets through T&T’s genius talents and products- which must be scrupulously selected and enabled. It is this enabled genius class that can earn massive profits from relatively small investments. This should be facilitated by:
the creation of a Touring Secretariat with industry knowledgeable stakeholders to position artists in the corresponding niche expos and markets and to follow up on the maximising of the opportunities won.
- The re-empowerment of FilmTT, MusicTT, & Fashion TT and the reconstituting of Creative TT.
- The empowerment of the Fashion Industry by:
- restarting Fashion Week T&T;
- creating educational courses for Seamstress, Tailors and Pattern makers; and
- Facilitating Fashion Industry Co-ops and factories to enable mass-production.
- ACTT would also like to see the state-owned media lead the local Film and TV industry thrust with CNMG and the Information Channel commissioning Local Content programming of all types rather than spend foreign exchange on foreign programming.
To reap the benefits of T&T’s unprecedented cultural Legacy the Intellectual Property regime of the country needs to be overhauled with:
- the setting up of new types of collection agencies to collect and oversight national intellectual property rights and income streams.
- The country needs to seriously look at partnering with international brokers in a massive National IP Exploitation exercise regarding our Legacy material before their expiration dates.
ACTT will also like to sit with government to partner in major export-driven international Initiatives that it already has in train for the Sector this year in:
- New York, and
- London with the 50th Anniversary of Notting Hill Carnival.
- The third part of the ACTT Industry Initiatives is about Creative Solutions to transform living conditions in the country- making life for citizens more beautiful and humane through Design and Innovation, and using the Creative Sector twinned with Sports and Agriculture to create clusters of employment and income.Amongst the most important part of these initiatives are:
- The local CRAFT Industry wants to establish Craft Markets in all Squares from Friday to Sundays as a way to create safe family destinations, reclaim public spaces for safety, and to create avenues for employment and entrepreneurship for working class people and the artisan class.
- One of the major interventions is the East POS Heritage City/Growth Pole which floundered under the last administration and for which there is IADB Funding through the Sustainable Cities Initiative. Extremely detailed plans exist for the interventions necessary in Laventille and East Port of Spain.
- These include a major capital project called the House of Music which can focus the make-work spend for the community-
- This also includes the creation of a Belmont Creative Hub Cluster which can lead to a multi-million dollar foreign exchange hub in the heart of East Port of Spain.
- There are a series of interventions to partner in crime reduction and in the rehabilitation and development of communities-at -risk. Part of this is letting Arts and Sports lead in the softening of the blow of the Recession through international Best-Practice interventions
- One part of this entails the creation of a Pilot Arts Magnet School at Secondary level for the 2016/17 term and
- the partnering with other national stakeholders in the refining and mainstreaming of the subject ‘Civics’. We would like Civics to be made mandatory at primary and secondary level and to include an innovative local History and Arts component built by stakeholders and professionals.
We again want to insist that the solution to the problems in East Port of Spain are not military solutions- neither are they insurmountable. The community through its legitimate representative groups like the East POS Council of Community Organisations and allies like ACTT have drafted intimate and sophisticated multi-pronged solutions encompassing infrastructural reforms, widespread psychological counselling, cultural institutions, sporting programmes, educational institutional reforms, Heritage Industry interventions, industrial and entrepreneurial investments, and more that can transform the community into a zone of peace and productivity.
ACTT also has a desire to see ‘Design’ established as a Protocol built into the National Diversification Agenda. One UK survey posits that for every £1 spent on good design, they save £29!
In closing, as the Festival Nation of planet Earth, ACTT is insisting that nationally we need to do sensitive and intelligent reforms in Carnival and our other Festivals to deal with the changing demographics of their producers and consumers. Many of these plans have been consulted on and drafted. These interventions can lead to these Festivals doubling their current collective earnings to over $2 billion in foreign exchange annually…
ACTT and the Creative Sector believe that the Recession is not a crisis- but an opportunity. We believe that instead of Recession we would like the national mantra to be ‘Creating our Second Golden Age’. Artists believe that this is possible.