CREATIVE SECTOR POST-COVID BUDGET STRATEGY 2021
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.
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:
STAGE 1- THE VIRTUAL CARNIVAL FEBRUARY 2021: FRI 12TH – TUES 16TH
- The plan is to use Carnival to launch the T&T Virtual Economy for the entire Creative and Business Sector. The plan is 55 million pairs of eyes to replace the 55,000 visitors lost. Using our international T&T celebrities we will create a telegenic event that will be the best TV on Earth for that week! The idea is to launch Brand T&T and a multitude of T&T projects into the global marketplace
STAGE 2- THE NEXT TARGET IS ‘SUMMER’ JULY 2021 & THE CREATION OF A GENERATION OF NEW PREMIUM CONTENT FOR INTERNATIONAL MUSIC, TV, FILM, & GAMING ONLINE PLATFORMS. THE MODEL IS SOUTH KOREA. WE ARE CALLING THIS THE JULY GENERATION:
- Although we are leading with audio visual mediums the idea is that we are using them to get the entire sector employed- Craft, Theatre, Dance, Fashion, everybody. We are also creating events on the calendar that become charged marketplaces where people can get their products sold.
- (What is the South Korean model? Nobody would have ever predicted that South Korea would have conquered global pop culture 15 years ago- but now South Korean pop music stars, soap operas, action films, and video games are ruling demographic niches in the Western and Asian world. With its scud missile of Gangnam Style in 2012- the world’s first 1 billion viewed YouTube clip- Korea announced its intentions. With a combination of government protectionist and enabling measures, private investment, and Asian entertainment industry low budget knowhow Korea began scientifically creating Content that was compelling to the world but based on real South Korean energy. They cleverly used free online media to position the Content. The rise and global positioning of Burna Boy and Afro-Beats is another model for us to observe. We will have to build our model with minimum government assistance. Our advantage is we are advanced in Content creation and market savvy)
- This next stage of this Sector must be based on the idea of cooperative work. People will have to barter their talents to create projects that are bigger than our individual selves. We are working on the model that participants will get points (royalties) in the eventual product.
- The thrust now is: We are going to support artists of all types to move their work to online marketplaces. This requires us to work out the local issues with setting up proper online businesses with the Ministry of Digitisation. Barring that we have a number of industry pathways which we can show people.
- The next step is that Brand T&T has to migrate Premium Content to monetisable Global Virtual Platforms and to garner a reputation for our Brand Content.
- Carnival provides us with our first opportunity to signal to the International Marketplace what is coming.
- The big international marketplace for content is the summer months- July to September. We will be creating and curating a massive batch of Premium T&T Content and products for the international marketplace at that time led by NEW funky Brand T&T Film, Music, Animated, and Gaming content backed up by funky products.
- We want to win space on the premium streaming and content provider platforms of the world in 202- HBO, Netflix, Disney +, HULU, Amazon, AppleTV, etc
- But it is possible that we will have to create a new channel streaming brand T&T HD level content by July 2021.
- Entertainment lawyers will be very important during this period as well as the Legal Affairs IP Department. Valuation of IP properties will be very important in this period. Ownerships need to be locked. Rights need to be clear as well as remuneration streams
GOVERNMENT HAS SHOWN THAT THEY ARE NOT INTERESTED IN UNDERSTANDING THE SOPHISTICATION AND FULFILLING THE POTENTIAL OF THIS SECTOR. SO WE WILL HAVE TO DO THE HEAVY LIFTING OURSELVES- HOWEVER HERE ARE STILL CERTAIN ENGAGEMENTS WITH GOVERNMENT WE ARE STILL WILLING TO BATTLE FOR:
These are bureaucratic exercises some of which government has shown an inclination to support or do. We have to insist on their Relevance, international Best Practice, and Integirty-
- Priority: Passing the 50% Local Content Quota legislation for Broadcast Media (Radio & TV). Local Content Quotas. Government has said they are willing to work with stations and channels to prescribe local content
- Priority: The regularisation of the land tenure of Panyards- 65-75% of bands are on State lands
- Priority: Upgrade our IP registration, policing, and exploitation regime by the creation of an Independent Intellectual Property Office.
- Priority: Review and removal of “morality” laws that prohibit the use of nudity and obscene language on stage. Replacement with a rating system
- Priority: The proper constitution of the Civics curriculum to include T&T’s Creative Legacy, Heroes, Heritage, etc
THE IMPLEMENTATION VEHICLES:
There is no mention of the National Arts Council in the Budget. It may be hidden in the PSIP spend but we need to keep attention there to insure that it is built with integrity.
THESE ARE IN THE BUDGET SO WE SHOULD MAXIMISE THEM:
- Grants for Artists to migrate their content online.
- Digitizing the National Museum Inventory and creation of a virtual museum.
- Craft Associations migrating best products online and going after international design mags etc
- Resourcing the National Trust for specific projects
- government grants will be available for start-up businesses;
- tax credits will be available to businesses which invest in tech startups or new tech businesses, in technology solutions and digitization as well as in businesses which create employment in the technology industry, particularly for young people;
- finance and incentives where applicable will be provided to entrepreneurs engaged in software and mobile application development, user interface design, call centre operations, quality assurance bug testers, animators, visual effects, and electronic media; and 39
- a Tech Investment Fund and a Tech Promotions and Development Company will be established, and it will be available to all viable tech start-ups and new tech businesses
- As part of our push for full Digitalization of our economy and Government services, all taxes on Mobile and Digital Equipment, Mobile Phones, Software, Computer Accessories and Peripherals will be removed.
- A tax allowance will be provided to businesses which invest in tech starts-up and new tech business. The allowance is set at 150 percent with a cap of $3 million.
- A tax allowance will be provided to businesses which engage in technology solutions and digitalization. The allowance is set at 150 percent with a cap of $3 million.
- A tax allowance will be provided to businesses which create employment in the technology industry particularly young people. The allowance is set at 150 percent with a cap of $3 million. These measures will all take effect from January 1, 2021.
- increase to $12 million the current tax allowance of $6.0 million for corporate sponsorship of nationals in the local fashion industry, audio, visual or video productions for the purpose of local education or entertainment and local production companies in respect of their own productions as well as for companies which sponsor sporting activities or events or sportsmen or art and culture. This measure will take effect from January 1, 2021.
- All individuals earning $7,000 a month or less will now be exempt from income tax.
THESE ARE ON US:
These are projects that can get swathes of the Sector moving and employed. We will apply for government grants for them but they will be mostly Private-sector funded. We will work with stakeholders who want to get them moving. They are created to get maximum participation in a COVID socially distanced time and where EVERYONE is paid and excellence is rewarded.
These 2 competitions can have prelims starting before year end and have finals by Easter 2021. They can be major TV or online events with major sponsors and viewership.
- National Dance Soloist competition: Primary, Secondary, Tertiary school & adult level
Cost: $1 million in prize and participation money. Matching money from sponsors
ROI: This will employ over 250 dance practitioners in a downtime and stimulate dance and the curriculum across the nation. It will also make excellent national TV/online entertainment
- National Monologue competition: Secondary, Tertiary school & adult level
Cost: $1 million in prize and participation money. Matching money from sponsors
ROI: This will employ over 250 theatre practitioners in a downtime and stimulate theatre and the curriculum across the nation. It will also make excellent national TV/online entertainment
CREATING THE JULY GENERATION:
- THE THEATRE TO FILM CONVERSION PROGRAMME– $100,000 to 50 teams with matching monies and resources from private sector and TV stations to convert plays (dances, etc) and dormant screenplays to streamable monetisable content. Based on the successful TTT Horace James’s Play of the Month model. It will be a National call administered by NDATT, NDANCE, and Tony Hall’s Playwright Workshop group. It would be a public private partnership as part of launching the Local Content Quota law. It will produce a generation of content now marketable globally and virtually. Cloistered teams and shoots with strict Ministry Of Health personnel and protocols. An apprenticeship programme is key:
Cost: $5 million
ROI: $100 million There will be break-out performers from this bunch, content will be licensed, talent will be signed… T&T can also create its own monetisable streaming platform
- Grants, for local productions plus the production of a feature film and TV series per year for international markets. We will have to create the funding for the Film Grants through private, international, and sourced funding.
Cost: $5 million
ROI: $100 million There will be break-out performers from this bunch, content will be licensed, talent will be signed… T&T can also create its own monetisable streaming platform. The examples of Westwood Park (TV) and Sally’s Way (film) show how money can be made
- The creation of a Stand-alone Unit whose focus is Distribution and Touring. This unit will be made up of industry specialists like: Film Co, Studio Ananse, and Caribbean Tales for film distributionč Jean Michel Gibert for music distribution; and Martin Raymond for music licensing. This unit is concerned with situating product into Markets and Niches- Netflix, Hulu, Disney, Amazon, HBO Max, Spotify, terrestrial and virtual channels. This Unit will collect and disseminate data and provide Best Practice pathways for the Sector. Part of the Unit will see about Licensing of other T&T product internationally- visual arts, photographic, and film/TV content.
- THE SOU SOU SESSION INITIATIVE FOR THE LOCAL MUSIC INDUSTRY to fast track the recording and curating of T&T’s unrecorded genius music of all genres. The idea is to identify the best studios and session musicians in T&T and identify the best unrecorded music or tracks that need to be recorded, redone, or remastered. Studios and session musicians are paid monthly, artists are not. They get their product recorded. A generation of music will be ready for the international market by July.
Cost: $5 million
ROI: $100 million There will be break-out performers from this bunch, content will be licensed, talent will be signed… T&T can also create its own monetisable streaming platform. There is a long paper trail of the $millions earned and foreign markets gained off properly curated T&T music content when pursued like how expert stakeholders suggest
- LOCAL ANIMATION AND GAMING PRODUCTS FOR THE JULY GENERATION: The idea is to create an anthologised animation series like a Caribbean version of Netflix’s immensely popular Love, Death, and Robots. The target for this is July 2021. Accompanying this is the first generation of T&T Gaming content for multiple platforms.
Cost: $10 million
ROI: $25 million. The idea is to get this product licensed to a streaming service and use it as a calling card to our industry and tertiary and industrial destination
Big pitch to our new partner ministry-
THE MINISTRY OF TOURISM SHOULD TAKE THIS YEAR TO PARTNER WITH THE CREATIVE SECTOR IN THE VIRTUALISATION OF TOURISM & DESTINATION CONTENT
YOUTH, NEW ECONOMY, & CRIME PREVENTION PROJECTS:
The country needs to establish 2 Creative/Tech Hubs/Clusters.
- Tamana Industrial Estate: The only Creative Sector that has gotten resourced is Animation and its seat is at the Tamana Animation Faculty- a multi-million dollar state of the art facility. Animation will have to work with all other parts of the Sector as a Hub and lever for our development
- Tobago out of the Shaw Park Facility: The Shaw Park facility is extremely under-utilised. Parts of it need to be transformed into a modern hub for Tobago youth, intersectional work, and New media
EAST PORT OF SPAIN
There is nothing much said on East Port of Spain in the Budget leaving much of that plan and the nation’s anti-crime thrust to the findings and suggestions of the Community Recovery Committee that was set up. We should concentrate some of our thinking into that Committee and ensure that the Arts are a central part of the plans that are created for the rehabilitation of community and the creation of the new Culture of Life. Two of the main projects are:
- The House of Music as the main capital project utilisng all of George and Nelson streets This will be the flagship project of the East Port of Spain Growth Pole project. It was looked upon very favourably by the IADB as the lead project for its Sustainable Cities Initiative. There is free money and soft loans for it. The rehabilitation of Laventille and EPOS will be led by this project.
- The Yoruba Village multi-purpose centre re-purposing the site of Citrus Growers Association in Morvant to a multi-purpose facility managed by the Success Ujamma Cooperative that incorporates agricultural, manufacturing, educational, and entrepreneurial interventions.
ROI: This project has been incubating for over 30 years. It represents the hopes and dreams of the progressive part of the community. It will employ hundreds in construction and hundreds thereafter, but moreover it will create massive alternatives in training, counseling, and business opportunities for a beleaguered but immensely creative community
HERITAGE & INSTERSECTIONAL COMMUNITY BASED PROJECTS
There is some scope for these types of projects in some of the projects announced in the Budget but it will have to be a battle for them to see the process how we do. We should ally with the communities and local government who may understand better
- Intersectional Design & Heritage based projects which teleport the best architects, designers, and creatives into local communities to collaborate to create high-design projects that make new local entrepreneurial hubs, These projects- many based around local Heritage Sites- bring together the community’s genius agricultural products; culinary skills and businesses; visual and performing artists, tech and local businesses to create international tourist destinations.
Cost: $10 million for 16 pilot projects
ROI: These are income earning projects for communities. They are for internal and international tourists, so are for post COVID times, but the time to set them up is now. Each of these facilities can be earning over $10 million annually for its community. Conservatively
MAJOR WTF MOMENT
Whereas we see the Carnival and Steelband Museum as one of the architectural wonders of the world like the Bilbao Guggenheim and a tourist attraction in the Savannah earning over $100 million a year conservatively- government has placed the Carnival and Steelband Museum in the downtown Museum of San Andres on Broadway... We will take that. We will insist on using this as a base to begin the curation to build towards the mega project
- The real Carnival and Steelband Museumt is a major capital construction sector project which will employ hundreds immediately. Essential to the future of the Festival and to T&T Legacy. It must be driven by stakeholder design specs. The facility should be programmed to earn over $100 million annually. It will cost $300 million and take 3 years to construct. By then hopefully there will be a vaccine and some kind of Tourist industry returning globally. Its launch should be global. So the time to start is now 1st year
SMALLER CAPITAL PROJECTS WITH HUGE FISCAL AND BRAND WINDFALLS
Heritage Warehouse to house all our National Collection artefacts. We should work towards getting a private sector partner or donor for this. Too many collections are being destroyed at the moment
ROI: This facility can be turned into a Museum destination and can earn over $10 million annually easily. Its worth is much more as it will rescue literally billions of dollars of jeopardized cultural material that at the moment is in danger of destruction
SMALLER IMPORTANT PROGRAMME SUPPORTS:
We have to search for the private partners for these.
- Support for Timmy Mora’s digitization of T&T’s entire TV & Film Archive: $1 million
- Brand the City, airport, and ports as Port of Spain UNESCO Heritage Music City. T&T through Carla Foderingham and her team has earned a unique designation. We should capitalize on it.
- Create Music Heritage Walk Zones for the Port of Spain UNESCO Heritage Music City $3 million
LOBBIES THAT CAN BE ONGOING WITH OTHER MINISTRIES:
- Ministry of Education- Create 1 pilot School for the Arts and 1 Tech Voc Magnet School at Secondary school level.
- Ministry of Education– Incentives for tertiary education institutions in collab with private entities to offer scholarships and programs in new creative fields such as arts administration, artist management, entertainment law. There should also be focus on programs that seek to integrate technology and new media. This would be a timely collaboration with the Ministry focused on Digital Transformation.
- Ministry of Education- Government support of education through Animation. The creation of an animated mascot to support education and teach concepts to children can be a project undertaken to create education material within the coming year,
- Ministry of Education- Full integration of the Creative Arts in the transformation of the curriculum into an online system. Let theatre, music, Film, dance, visual arts, etc make the curriculum palatable
- Ministry of Community Development- Revisiting the idea of Community Centres. Integration of creative and cultural programs, movement/drama/music therapy and equipped small performance spaces within at risk communities which would further create paid opportunities for young creative
- Ministry of Community Development- The restructuring of Best Village to be a developmental 365 day a year programme within the Community
- With Ministry of Housing / Community Development. There is a decades long an outstanding request for communal institutional space for all Artists representative groups. Stakeholders have in the past requested La Fantasie in St Anns as a perfect site, but are willing to consider any other worthy space. Also extend Trinidad Theatre Workshop’s lease in St Clair to 100 years so it can become an international hub & consolidate its Nobel Prize work.
- With Ministry of Housing / Community Development. Low income housing for the most vulnerable artists. TUCO has an outstanding Convalescent Home proposal that rhymes with this.
We have arrived at the logical end of 4 generations of Arts Activism which has shown us that our governing classes fundamentally do not understand the modern Creative Industries and their prominence on planet Earth and their worth over and above the traditional Extractive and Manufacturing industries. They also do not understand the worth of Culture to a Nation. They also do not seem to understand that our comparative advantage as a Nation is our Creativity, our Creative Legacy, and our Creators.
The refusal to enable and resource the Creative class through legislation, policy, and institutions means that we Creatives have to now move on collectively to a cooperative ground-up model of empowerment. We have to take our Destiny in our hand. At a time of global pandemic crisis and specific Creative Sector collapse we must bet on ourselves to get ourselves through this dangerous period. We are doing this not only for ourselves but for the Nation, for we know that if we do not intervene in this way now that the alternative is madness, suicides, crime sprees and individual and community collapses unlike this country has ever witnessed. Through the Culture and the Arts we will restore and resurrect our Country.