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!

COLM’S BUDGET STATEMENT

TECH AND THE NEW ECONOMY (Digital Society)

“The Ministry has also been mandated to create an electronic population register or e-identity for every citizen to facilitate data transmission to all agencies…

“Initially, a digital public service is proposed through an e-Governance ecosystem…

“Madam Speaker, in the context of the utilization of digital access tools, including government services, by the national economy, ease of access to digital commerce will be provided through a range of digital cultural shift activities and a national digital database. We will facilitate the implementation of several major projects:

  • student broadband availability;
  • digital procurement solutions;
  • digital mobile money solutions;
  • free public Wi-Fi;
  • nationwide 4G and 5G network;
  • development of a national digital database; and
  • delivery of a wide range of government services…

“Additionally, it is proposed that over the next two (2) years:

  • 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.

“It is expected that the new digital economy will transform all industries, and be vastly different from the old economy, where growth was driven by the mechanization of production. We expect that digitalization will be a primary driver of economic efficiency, productivity, and improved living standards.”

Creative and Cultural Industries

COMMENTARY: PEOPLE CRITICISE ARTISTS SAYING WE ARE UNGRATEFUL OVER ‘ALL THE FREE MONEY’ WE ARE GETTING FOR COVID. THIS OF COURSE IS FALSE. ACCORDING TO ACTT’S FIGURES THERE ARE OVER 10,000 PEOPLE CALLING THEMSELVES ARTISTS WHO DEPEND UPON THEIR CREATIVITY FOR A SIGNIFICANT PART OF THEIR ANNUAL INCOME. ONLY 350 PEOPLE OUT OF 10,000 RECEIVED THE $5,000 GRANTS!!! THERE ARE A FURTHER 10,000 PEOPLE WHO ARE SEASONAL OR FESTIVAL BASED ARTISTS WHO DEPEND UPON THE ARTS FOR PART OF THEIR ANNUAL INCOME…

YOU WILL SEE THROUGHOUT THE BUDGET THE PHRASE ‘THE CREATIVE AND CULTURAL INDUSTRIES ARE EMERGING AS A CRITICAL ENGINE OF GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT’ THIS IS FALSE. THE CREATIVE INDUSTRIES AREN’T EMERGING ANYTHING. THE CREATIVE INDUSTRIES HAVE BEEN THE 2ND LARGEST INDUSTRY ON PLANET EARTH FOR 20 YEARS!!! EARNING $2.2 TRILLION. TRANSFORMING ECONOMIES. CREATING THOUSANDS OF MILLIONAIRES AND NEW BILLIONAIRES OUT OF CREATIVES THAT WERE WORKING CLASS 2 DECADES AGO. OTHER COUNTRIES WERE ABLE TO PROFIT FROM THIS BY CREATING ENABLING EBNVIRONMENTS OF POLICY, LEGISLATION, AND INSTITUTIONS, OUR GOVERNMENTS REFUSED TO CREATE THESE AND IN THAT PERIOD OF GLOBAL CREATIVE RENAISSANCE OUR CREATIVE INDUSTRUES COLLAPSED. MANZ COUNTRIES HAVE HAD THESE ENABLERS IN PLACE SINCE THE 1920S!!!

“Madam Speaker, the creative and cultural industries are emerging as a critical engine of growth and development. However, the COVID-19 pandemic impact on these industries has been unquestionable. This sector will be among the last to re-open fully. Industry players are undergoing serious hardship, in particular in the fields of music, film, dance and theatre, heritage, literature publishing, festivals and broadcasting.

“To cushion the fallout, artistes have received and/or are eligible to receive short-term income relief of $5,000 as part of our COVID-19 relief programme in recognition of their continued inactivity. The Salary Relief Grant and Income Support Grant Programmes will also be extended to December 2020 for workers in this industry, among others in a similar situation, to provide further financial support, where applicable.

“The economic and employment-creating potential of the creative and cultural industries will be unlocked in a measured and consistent manner through: providing support to artistes; promoting support for intellectual property protection; establishing a local content guideline for local media houses; supporting the transition of creative arts from the informal sector to the formal sector; providing local and foreign training opportunities, including partnering with tertiary training institutions; collecting and publishing local cultural statistics; encouraging the use of artistes’ guild to promote equity, decent work standards and quality work management; marketing Trinidad and Tobago as an arena for international film productions; and continuing to expand the local fashion industry.

“Madam Speaker, in keeping with our commitment to a digital economy in 2022, initiatives geared towards improving digital literacy for local artistes will be promoted. Incentives will also be provided for increasing the percentage of local music played on local music stations.”

EAST PORT OF SPAIN (Social Development)

COMMENTARY: THE SECTOR NOW NEEDS TO FOCUS ON GETTING OUR AGENDAS ADDRESSED BY THE COMMUNITY RECOVERY COMMITTEE TO ENSURE THAT THE ARTS IS PART OF THE REHABILITATION OF COLLAPSING COMMUNITIES. THE HOUSE OF MUSIC PROJECT IN EAST PORT OF SPAIN IS CRITICAL TO THIS.

A Community Recovery Committee is now working towards the design of an action plan for communities with a proliferation of at-risk youth beginning with greater Laventille and East Port of Spain and continuing onto other communities in which crime, economic deprivation, and victimization are endemic due to societal and other issues.

“Madam Speaker, in focusing on the workforce, we will facilitate training, support schools and day-care facilities and fund domestic violence centres, transitional facilities and strategies to end gender-based violence.

“Madam Speaker, with dwindling revenues, we are ensuring that social expenditure is efficient and that more can be done with less. A National Social Services Card System using a unique e-identifier will track vulnerable persons and/or families, modernize the delivery of social support programmes, encourage the use of locally-produced goods and develop a register of agencies and individuals supportive of the vulnerable population.”

SETTING UP E-BUSINESS (Medium Term Framework: Diversification)

COMMENTARY: THIS IS CRITICAL. WE ARE CREATING A DELEGATION TO GO TO THE NEW MINISTRY OF DIGITISATION TO ENSURE THAT ANYONE- ESPECIALLY WORKING CLASS PEOPLE- CAN CREATE AN E-BUSINESS IN 4 SIMPLE STEPS AND WITHIN 2 DAYS. IT IS THE ONLY WAY THE ECONMY CAN SUCCEED AND WE CAN FREE THE REAL INNOVATORS WHO ARE SELDOM IN THE ELITE

“…We are targeting an improvement in our position of 105 in the 2020 World Bank Report on Doing Business. We are making every effort at improving the existing measurable benchmarks many of which are totally unacceptable, such as:

  • 10 days for starting a business,
  • 254 days for receiving construction permits; and
  • 61 days for obtaining an electricity connection;
  • 77 days for registering a property;
  • 65 days to obtain credit;
  • 3 ½ years to enforce contracts; and
  • 2 ½ years to resolve insolvencies.

“With the reform of these regulatory processes, we are ensuring that Trinidad and Tobago becomes a competitive hub for trade and investment – an attractive location for businesses to take root and to flourish…”

TAX ALLOWANCES AND INCENTIVES (Fiscal and Other Measures)

COMMENTARY: THESE ARE GOOD INCENTIVES- BUT WHAT IS THE PATHWAY TO SEED CAPITAL IF THE SECTOR HAS BEEN GUTTED OF GRANT AND OTHER FUNDING?

1. Technological Transformation and Innovation

“Madam Speaker, the participation of young people in the technological transformation and innovation processes will be facilitated by improving and accelerating access to equipment, training and funding. To achieve this objective:

  • 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…”

19. Creative and Sporting Activities

COMMENTARY: VERY FEW PRIVATE SECTOR INDIVIDUALS HAVE EVER MADE USE OF THE TAX BREAKS IN ITS 20 YEAR HISTORY.

“Madam Speaker, I propose to 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.”

20. Personal Income Tax Allowance

COMMENTARY: GOOD.

“Madam Speaker, as a huge fiscal stimulus to the economy and a fillip to the retail sector we are providing relief to working families by increasing the personal income tax exemption limit from $72,000 to $84,000 per year. All individuals earning $7,000 a month or less will now be exempt from income tax. This will put additional income of $3,000 per year into the pockets of over 250,000 individual taxpayers. This bold measure will cost the Government $750 million per year in individual income tax revenue but we firmly believe that in this difficult COVID-19 period it will stimulate the demand side of the economy, by stimulating economic activity, consumption, sales and growth by putting more money in the hands of consumers. We believe that through the multiplier effect the net effect on our GDP will be much more than $750 million.

“This measure will take effect on January 1, 2021.”

COMMENTARY: THE GOVERNMENT STILL TALKS ABOUT THE ARTS LIKE IT’S A WELFARE STATE AND NOT THE 2ND LARGEST ECONOMY ON THE PLANET. ON ONE HAND ITS ALL ABOUT GRANTS TO ‘HELP OUT’. WE DIDN’T ASK FOR THAT. ARTISTS’ DRAFTED ONE OF THE MOST DEVELOPMENT MINDED BUDGET PROPOSALS EVER WHICH SAW US EMPLOYING 25,000 AND EARNING OVER $1 BILLION IN FOREIGN EXCHANGE FOR THE ECONOMY IN A YEAR AND A HALF. ON THE OTHER HAND THE MANUFACTURING AND AGRICULTURAL SECTOR GOT MASSIVE SUBSIDIES


COMMENTARY: LISTEN TO THE CRAZY WAY THE SECTOR IS SPOKEN OF- ON ONE HAND THE MINSTRY SAYS WE MADE $427.6 MILLION FOR THE NATIONAL ECONOMY AND CREATED 1,168 NEW JOBS- AND ON THE NEXT HAND THEY SAY THAT THEY ARE GIVING THE INDUSTRY $4.8 MILLION!!!

REVIEW OF THE PUBLIC SECTOR INVESTMENT PROGRAMME 2020: Creative Industries

The Creative Sector continues to be a key sector to drive the diversification agenda. In 2020, the sector experience positive growth of 0.26 percent to 0.30 percent of GDP, which translated into a contribution of $427.6 million in 2019 and the creation of 1,168 jobs for the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago.

As the sector continue to expand and promote their offerings across borders both regionally and internationally, the sector brought in Foreign Exchange of US$5.6 million In fiscal 2020, the MTI through its respective Agencies utilised the sum of $4.8 million towards the development of the Film, Music and Fashion sub-sectors with the aim to stimulate and facilitate business and export development.

Some of the initiatives executed under MusicTT included:

  • the Live Music District initiative was hosted at over 22 venues with the participation of 69 artists performing at events such as Cross Continents – Little Carib Theatre, Turn it Up! – Live on Tragarete Road and Carifesta Launch After Party at Stages;
  • “Live at Lunch” sessions, conducted on the Brian Lara Promenade in partnership with the Ministry of CDCA;
  • the Spotlight Final Showcase (featuring nine (9) artists comprising cohort 2 was held on December 12, 2019 at the Cabana Lounge, St. Clair. The event was hosted by Chromatics and had an attendance of 100 persons;
  • launch of the Music Tech Platform application. To date two-hundred and 32 eighty-eight (288) artists, 6 promoters have registered, one hundred and twenty-three (123) venues have been listed, and an event calendar was added to the application to share upcoming events; and
  • launch of the MusicTT website was launched which includes portals to music streaming services including Apple Music and Spotify along with contract templates, education platforms and links to professional services such as audio mastering.

FilmTT

In fiscal 2020, FilmTT continued its implementation of key project activities which included the following:

  • participation of two (2) FilmTT officers at an industry market and conference in London called “FOCUS: The Meeting Place for International Production” to garner knowledge and provide additional support to the Unseen, Unexpected project;
  • conduct of the 2019/2020 advertising campaign which consisted of various advertisement and editorial placements to promote Trinidad and Tobago as a unique location for film production; and
  • continuation of online training for FilmTT staff at the Association of Film Commissioners International University.

FashionTT

During fiscal 2020, work continued on FashionTT’s flagship project, the Fashion Value Chain Investment Programme (FVCIP) with another cohort of designers entering the programme, It is expected by the programme’s conclusion approximately one hundred persons (100) will have benefited from the training and business process reengineering.

The following activities took place under four tiered FVICP.

  1. The Global Value Chain (GVC) Support Programme – in consultations with ExporTT, FashionTT held stakeholder consultations with the selected designers to assist them in preparing their export plans
  2. Non-Global Value Chain (non-GVC) Support Programme – work commenced online with eleven (11) selected designers to improve their business elements such as production and distribution capacity.
  3. Business Advisory Programme – FashionTT in collaboration with National Entrepreneurship Development Company Limited (NEDCO) conducted an orientation session with the third cohort of the VCIP Incubator programme, which comprised 66 designers, in addition to an online mentoring programme.
  4. Entrepreneurship Development Programme – FashionTT continued its partnership with NEDCO business mentors for the fourth tier of the VCIP, with seventy –one (71) designers participating in the second cohort of the programme.

The development of the Fashion Industry in fiscal 2020 included the undermentioned programmes:

The Fashion Value Chain Investment Programme (FVCIP) – work commenced on each tier of the initiative as follows:

  • Global Value Chain held stakeholder consultations with the selected designers. FashionTT commenced working with designers to prepare their export plans in partnership with ExporTT;
  • Non-Global Value Chain work commenced with 11 selected designers to improve their business elements such as production and distribution capacity. All mentoring with designers was conducted online;
  • Business Advisory conducted an orientation session with the third cohort of the FVCIP Incubator programme, which was comprised 66 designers. The mentorship program also commenced in partnership with NEDCO, with all sessions being conducted online;
  • Entrepreneurship Development Programme – 71 designers were selected to be part of the second cohort of the programme. Training commenced in partnership with business mentors from NEDCO.

To improve the local fashion sector to international standards fourteen persons participated in the Ultra Bespoke Tailoring Train the Trainer Programme facilitated by Professor Andrew Ramroop of Savile Row Academy. The course programme is designed in thirty modules, of which fifteen (15) have been completed. The programme addresses the components bespoke he oneyear tailoring, pattern drafting, cutting and fitting.

PUBLIC SECTOR INVESTMENT PROGRAMME 2021: Creative Industries

COMMENTARY: RHETORIC VS REALITY. THEY ARE SAYING ‘’ THE FASHION, FILM AND MUSIC SECTORS FORM A TRILOGY OF CREATIVE INDUSTRIES AT THE FORE OF THE ECONOMY’S DIVERSIFICATION DRIVE’’ YET THEY ARE GIVING $1.3 MILLION TO FUND THE ENTIRE LOCAL FILM INDUSTRY THAT’S LESS THAN US$200,000- LESS MONEY THAN A CATERING BUDGET ON AN AVERAGE AMERICAN FILM…

  • FILM IS THE CRITICAL MEDIUM TO GRADUATE ALL THE OTHER MEDIUMS TO VIRTUAL PLATFORMS SIMULTANEOUSLY. WE ASKED FOR $35 MILLION SPECIFICALLY FOR FILM WHICH WOULD HAVE PRODUCED OVER 100 FILMS!!! EMPLOYED OVER 3000 PEOPLE!!! THEY GAVE US $1.3 MILLION!!!

The fashion, film and music sectors form a trilogy of creative industries at the fore of the economy’s diversification drive, as the Government seeks to grow the non-energy sector. The financial and cultural potential of these sectors have been identified in various studies, and as such Government has embarked on a drive to bolster the infrastructure and opportunities that will allow the creative industry to play a significant roll towards economic transformation.

FASHION:

In fiscal 2021, $3.5 million will be invested to expand the local fashion industry, increase revenue generation, enable efforts towards supporting creative communities as well as boost industry export activity and foreign direct investment.

To achieve this, FashionTT will engage in the following activities:

  • continuation of the Fashion Value Chain Investment Programme (FVCIP). The four (4) tier system of the FVCIP includes:
    1. the Global Value Chain
    2. the Non-Global Value Chain
    3. business advisory
    4. the Entrepreneurship Development Programme
  • implementation of a Local Production Facility;
  • implementation of the Fashion Industry Development Programme; and
  • development of a Fashion Look Book.

MUSIC:

The sum of $1.5 million will be allocated for the advancement of the music industry in Trinidad and Tobago. Charged with the development of the industry, MusicTT will continue the implementation of projects aimed at strengthening businesses; driving the sustainability of operations, profitability and exportability of creative exports in music; and organising the sector. These include the following initiatives:

  • Music Export Academy – this project seeks to build export capacity through training in global best practices, provide export advice and develop the music ecosystem/ cluster;
  • Music Industry Data Analysis – this initiative is geared towards gathering information relevant to analysing the Trinidad and Tobago music sector to identify gaps and inform future decisions;
  • Development of the Live Music District – this provides a means for local artistes to earn revenue from performing at venues that generate income, expand their clientele and to experience the benefits of live music;
  • Music Tech Platform – local content music development and in-depth development of the MusicTT website; and
  • Artiste Portfolio Development Programme.

FILM:

The film industry will be capitalised with a sum of $1.3 million to advance the strategic direction of this industry. Entrusted with this task, FilmTT has embarked on several activities to enhance the prospects of Trinidad and Tobago becoming the region’s 118 premier production destination by encouraging a thriving production community and by developing the infrastructure and workforce capacity to increase the attractiveness of Trinidad and Tobago as having integrated services to support the domestic and global clientele.

These activities include:

  • TT: Film Friendly – this aims to increase Trinidad and Tobago’s attractiveness to international productions by improving the ease of doing business;
  • Film Festival Partnerships – this entails investment in indigenous film festivals that directly contribute to developing the interest of local audiences in local content, and developing the local film industry;
  • Unseen, Unexpected – this initiative uses a number of strategies to promote and market Trinidad and Tobago as a globally attractive Caribbean production location;
  • Data Model and Digital Platform – this entails an annual maintenance fee for the MovieSite digital platform and efforts to continue to improve the production directory and locations database and contacts database;
  • Association of Film Commissioners International Training – annual training budgets for FilmTT staff with the Association of Film Commissioners International (AFCI);
  • Stakeholder engagement – FilmTT hosts a Business of Film training workshop for local producers to build capacity in local production personnel.

CULTURE AND THE ARTS

COMMENTARY: THERE IS SOME MONEY FOR HERITAGE IN THE BUDGET- BUT IT IS FOR THE REPAIR OF BUILDINGS NOT REALLY FOR INSTITUTIONAL STRENGTHENING AND THE CONVERSION OF THESE BUILDINGS INTO MONESTISED ADAPTIVE-USE SITES. WE MAY HAVE TO BATTLE HERE TO GET THEM TO UNDERSTAND THE DIFFERENCE AND IMPLEMENT IT:

The creative and cultural industries are emerging as a new engine of growth and development in the world economy. As such, creating an enabling environment for these industries locally will facilitate the transmission of positive values among the citizenry. The government remains committed to this process and will continue to strengthen the infrastructure of the industry, create spaces and inspire experiences that celebrate an understanding of ourselves and our world. They will enable the exploration, interpretation, and preservation of the cultural heritage of Trinidad and Tobago and attract and nurture talent as well as share and develop skills and competencies through informal learning opportunities that can translate into economic benefits.

In this regard, initiatives and strategies proposed for implementation within the 2021 Capital Expenditure Programme for the sector Culture and the Arts are aligned to Government’s strategic objectives. The Creative and Cultural Industries are linked to Themes I and IV of Vision 2030 – ‘Putting People First: Nurturing Our Greatest Asset’ and ‘Building Globally Competitive Businesses’ respectively. Consistent with Theme IV, Government will continue to implement projects which will unlock the economic potential of the creative and cultural industries, create jobs and generate export earnings while at the same time promote social inclusion, cultural diversity and human development of the country.

The sum of $13.3 million will be provided for the execution of projects both in the Consolidated Fund and the IDF. Details of some of the key projects are outlined below:

Museums

Government will ensure that all museums are modern, interactive and celebrates the evolution, development and diversity of the people of Trinidad and Tobago. The museums will serve as a repository for the history and artefacts of our nation and provide a unique tourist attraction to all foreigners. All works at the following museums are geared towards the achievement of this goal.

National Museum Development

A more focused, planned and proactive approach will be taken to the sustained preservation of the National Museum (Carnival Museum) building. This will be achieved by conducting a structural assessment of the building, which includes an evaluation of the mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems of the facility. Once completed, this structural assessment will provide a priority listing of the required renovation works for the building. In fiscal 2021, an allocation of $0.5 million will be provided for the structural investigation. In addition, funds in the sum of $0.04 million will be allocated for the retention payment for the Cazabon Display Area Extension/Old Curator’s Office. Upon the completion of these works, it is expected that the Museum will have enhanced prominence to attract visitors and be in a stronger position to generate income.

Museum of the City of Port of Spain (Carnival Museum)

The proposed works for fiscal 2021 include the completion of the infrastructural upgrade of the Museum of the City of Port of Spain. Works are ongoing at the museum and funding in the amount of $0.5 million will be provided for retention payment for the replacement of the railing and walkways. This retention payment will cover the construction of a new gallery space, including the construction of tiled flooring and electrical works.

Other activities for this fiscal will include the purchase and installation of an air conditioning system for the entire building. Painting of the external and internal of the building including the underside of the wooden flooring, minor electrical works such as the installation of lighting for museum features, landscaping and outfitting of office spaces and the kitchen. It is the intent that this museum will be the Carnival, Steelband and Festival Museum, which will be utilised as the repository for the history, research and artefacts of our nation’s carnival. Both staff and visitors will benefit from the completion of these works, while enhancing the museum’s ability to generate income. (My emphasis)

Upgrade of Cultural and Arts Facilities

It is the goal of Government to have purpose built venues for various types of activities and provide world-class facilities for a range of artistes in the creative industries. Such major facilities include the Naparima Bowl, National Academy for the Performing Arts (NAPA), Queen’s Hall and the Southern Academy for the Performing Arts (SAPA). Details of the planned works on these facilities are highlighted below:

Naparima Bowl The Naparima Bowl is a prominent facility located in the heart of San Fernando. A phased approach will be used in the implementation of upgrade works to the facility. Phase I works include the purchase and installation of additional audio, lighting, video and multimedia equipment and software for improved production values. These upgrades will provide a higher quality service to clients for online streaming of live and pay-per-view productions. This will also aid in increased cost effectiveness and efficiency in the creative and production processes to both the main auditorium and amphitheatre by catering to the diverse needs of clients and stakeholders. Upgrade works to the stage equipment for the main auditorium and amphitheatre inclusive of ramps, risers and trussing will also be accomplished in fiscal 2021. The continuation of repairs and upgrade works to the facility will provide cultural spaces for the meeting and practice of art and craft as well as provide artists and producers with the opportunity to present higher quality and more innovative events.

National Academy for the Performing Arts (NAPA) Since its opening in 2009, a number of projects have been identified to bring NAPA to a state-of- the-art calibre. These projects fall into three (3) categories and the respective proposed works are as follows:

  1. safety and security – installation of an additional guard booth and access control barriers;
  2. improved cultural experience – installation of a bar concession and electronic signboard; and
  3. improved health – cleaning and sealing of the overhead beams over the stage in the auditorium.

The amount of $3 million will be allocated for the above programme of works for this fiscal. Funds have also been allocated for the purchasing of a broadcast system for video monitors which allowsfor the transmission of the activity taking place on stage to be viewed on the monitors installed throughout the building. NAPA is also in need of line arrays to supplement the audio equipment which will improve the sound quality for the audience. The funding provided will also assist in purchasing this item. When these proposed works are completed, it is expected to raise the level of safety and security, and the overall client and patron experience at NAPA.

Refurbishment of Queen’s Hall The upgrading of audio-visual communications technologies and super structural works have been identified as required works for Queen’s Hall. This upgrade will provide improved technology and infrastructure that can allow for web streaming, video conferencing, live broadcast services, and “drive by” outdoor events which can increase opportunities for revenue generation. Other main tasks for completion in fiscal 2021 are the upgrade of lighting equipment and associated infrastructure (Phase III), purchase and installation of a trap door for the stage theatrics, construction of the roof covering for the stand-by generator and installation of an awning on the northern side of the facility. An allocation in the amount of $1.5 million will be provided to facilitate these works.

Development of the First Peoples The GORTT is committed to supporting the development of the First Peoples by promoting their food, music, dance and spirituality, in order to preserve the culture and ensure its continuity in Trinidad and Tobago. Cabinet agreed that the First Peoples community be provided with twentyfive (25) acres of land for the specific purpose of the establishment of a Model Amerindian Village. This Village will comprise of farming, cassava processing, craft production, communal spaces/facilities, recreational spaces, a visitor centre and an exhibit space, spaces for spiritual and traditional ceremonies and performances, workshops, and reserved forested areas (for conservation of traditional plant and animal life).

A feasibility study is to be undertaken in fiscal 2021 at a cost of $1 million. Post completion of the study, some of the projected works in Phase I include:

  • construction of a perimeter fence, the pyramidal square, along with the traditional village square, spiritual centre, an art and craft pavilion, and food preparation sheds;
  • all sustainable services for connection of utilities, finishes, drainage and lights will be established and;
  • construction of traditional earthen ovens, and the drilling of water wells to provide the compound with an adequate water supply.

This project will have a positive impact on the environment being eco-friendly. It has the potential for earning/saving foreign exchange, generating employment, contributing to the development of skills, and has the potential to be financially profitable.

Remedial Works to SAPA SAPA experienced two (2) fires, one in 2016 which occurred in the CCTV room and caused damage to the Fire Detection and Suppression System of the building and the other in 2018 in the administrative area of the building. Consequent to the fires, the Trinidad and Tobago Fire Services (TTFS) highlighted the importance of having a functioning Fire Detection and Suppression System and recommended remedial works to bring the system up to the required standard. Additionally, the Ministry sought the assistance of UDeCOTT to repair the damage to the facility caused by the fires.

These remedial works have been completed and an allocation of $5 million will be provided for an outstanding payment for the project Remedial Works to SAPA. The benefits of the remedial and additional priority works to SAPA outweighs the cost as these works will ensure the safety of users of the facility, and result in the proper functioning of major systems that are critical for the smooth operations of SAPA. These remedial works will contribute to a sustainable improvement in the welfare of the beneficiaries (artist, promoters, patrons, etc.) and to the country


TOURISM

COMMENTARY: ALL OF THESE ARE CLICHÉ TRADITIONAL TOURIST SITES AND NOT THE KIND OF SITES THAT MODERN TOURIST FLOCK TO WHICH ARE HERITAGE-BASED SITES TIED TO COMMUNITY AUTHENTICITY- HOWEVER THERE IS STILL A SLIGHT SCOPE FOR PROPER DESIGN TO PLAY A HAND IN THESE AREAS. AGAIN THE MOST BORING AND UGLY DESIGNS ARE IMPOSED ON OUR SITES DEVOID OF ANY AESTHETICS. THESE ARE NOT QUITE THE INTERSECTIONAL DESIGN PROJECTS THE SECTOR DEMANDED BUT THEY MAYY BE IMPORTANT SITES TO IMPOSE PROPER DESIGN ON

REVIEW OF THE PUBLIC SECTOR INVESTMENT PROGRAMME 2020

As part of the thrust to enhance non-energy sectors towards a sustainable and diversified economy, the Government has actively pursued the development of the country’s tourism product. In fiscal 2020, the Ministry of Tourism (MOT) continued to focus its efforts on initiatives pertaining to product development and strategic marketing. A total of $41 million was allocated to the Ministry and 32 percent was utilised for the following programmes and projects:

Tourism Sites and Attractions Upgrade

For fiscal 2020, the sum of $13 million was allocated for the implementation of the Tourism Sites and Attractions Upgrade project to enhance the visitor experience. The sum of $3.6 million was expended in fiscal 2020 for upgrading works to the following facilities:

  • Las Cuevas Beach Facility – works conducted include the upgrade of washroom facilities, plumbing, drainage, electrical and signage;
  • Vessigny Beach Facility – work conducted include upgrades to the carpark, washrooms, guard booth, boathouse, office building, gazebo and waste water treatment;
  • Maracas Beach Facility – works on the relocation of temporary office containers, demolition of abandoned booths, installation of the potable water tank farm and outdoor showers were completed. Repairs to the lifeguard building are ongoing;
  • La Brea Pitch Lake Facility – works on the upgrading of the kitchen to a canteen, installation of new flooring and nine canopies, air conditioning, electrical, plumbing, closed circuit television, sprinklers, storage room and termite treatment were completed. Other works including signage and landscaping; Upgrade works done at the La Brea Pitch Lake
  • Paramin Village Lookout – land acquisition and the procurement of a contractor were completed. The initial designs were also completed and reviewed by the MOT and UDeCOTT, however, construction of the lookout was delayed due to COVID-19 restrictions.

PUBLIC SECTOR INVESTMENT PROGRAMME 2021

COMMENTARY: THERE IS SCOPE HERE FOR THE INTERSECTIONAL DESIGN PROJECTS WHICH DRAW IN COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT. AGAIN ARTISTS WILL HAVE TO BATTLE FOR THE PLACE OF GOOD DESIGN AND INTERSEBCTIONAL PROCESSES IN THESE PROJECTS BUT THEY ARE HERE.

Tourism Sites and Attractions Upgrade

The Tourism industry is steadily increasing in competitiveness with the development of new niche markets and destinations. It is envisioned that each project will contribute to the overall marketability of Trinidad’s tourism product, improve the country’s profile as a tourism destination, restore national heritage sites, upgrade sites and attractions to meet international industry standards and provide revenue–generating sustainable tourism. The upgrades will be undertaken in a manner that protects and enhances the natural assets of the area and will focus on developing safe, high quality and eco-friendly attractions geared to maintaining international environmental standards. A sum of $4 million will be provided for upgrades on the following projects:

  • Paramin Lookout
  • Temple in the Sea
  • Lopinot Estate Museum
  • River Estate Waterwheel
  • Blue Basin Waterfall and Pools
  • Fort Abercromby Heritage Park
  • Caura River Recreational Site (Pool two)
  • Caroni Bird Sanctuary
  • Botanical Gardens
  • Water Quality Testing at Las Cuevas

Maracas Beach Facility Improvement Project The rehabilitation and upgrade of beach facilities serve as part of the government’s drive to develop tourism products in a sustainable manner. The Maracas Beach Facility has been identified as a natural its flagship beach. The Maracas Beach Facility is intended to provide for a high quality tourist experience. This is also in keeping with the National Development Strategy’s strategic initiative to ensure that the quality of national goods and service conform to international standards. A sum of $4 million will be allocated for this project to facilitate the construction of a wooden boardwalk and decks, a combined office and commercial space, recreational facilities, completion of the washroom facility, and extension of parking facilities.

COMMENTARY: THE TOURISM SPACE IS WHERE THERE IS THE MOST POSSIBILTY WITH INTERSECTIONAL HERITAGE DESIGN PROJECTS- THROUGH LOCAL GOVERNMENT. ARTISTS MUST BE PROACTIVE IN GETTING THESE AGENCIES TO SEE THE NEED FOR THE DESIGN MODEL AND THE BENEFITS TO THE COMMUNITY OF ADAPTIVE USE SITES BUILT WITH OPTIMUM AESTHETICS AND INTERACTIVITY


State Enterprises Investment Programme – 2021: Divestment

COMMENTARY: THINGS TO NOTE: IT IS IMPORTANT TO NOTE WHAT COMPANIES ARE COMING AND GOING

Dissolution of Companies

The following companies have ceased operations and are at various stages of being wound up:

  • Caroni GREEN Limited (100% State-owned) – a liquidator was appointed;
  • Community Improvement Services Limited (100% State-owned) – undergoing pre-liquidation activities;
  • Government Information Services Limited (100% State-owned) – undergoing pre-liquidation activities;
  • Government Human Resource Services Company Limited (100% State-owned) – a liquidator was appointed;
  • Seafood Industry Development Company Limited (100% State-owned) – undergoing pre-liquidation activities;
  • Tourism Development Company Limited (100% State-owned) – undergoing pre-liquidation activities; and
  • Union Estate Electricity Generation Company Limited (100% State-owned) – undergoing pre-liquidation activities.
  • National Health Services Company Limited (100% State-owned) – undergoing winding up activities.

The liquidation procedure for six non-operational State Enterprises was completed and the Ministry of Finance is awaiting Dissolution Certificates from the Registrar of Companies for the following entities:

  • National Broadcasting Network Limited;
  • Rum Distillers of Trinidad and Tobago Limited;
  • Trinidad and Tobago Entertainment Company Limited;
  • Trinidad and Tobago Export Trading Company Limited;
  • Trinidad and Tobago Forest Product Company Limited;
  • Trinidad and Tobago Revenue Authority Management Company Limited; and
  • Human Capital Development Facilitation Company Limited

REVIEW OF SOCIAL PROGRAMMES AND INITIATIVES FOR 2020

COMMENTARY: THIS IS AN ABJECT FAILURE

AS AT JUNE 2020 MUSIC SCHOOLS IN THE COMMUNITY WAS CANCELLED DUE TO THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

SOCIAL SECTOR PLANS FOR 2021

COMMENTARY: FINALLY SOME OF THE POLICIES ARE BEING ADOPTED AND HOPEFULLY IMPLEMENTED. HOWEVER BECAUSE THE CULTURAL POLICY WAS SO CONTENTIOUS IT REMAINS TO BE SEEN IF IT IS ACTUALLY A WORKABLE RELEVANT DOCUMENT. AT LEAST IT WOULD NOW EXIST…

Posted on October 8, 2020, in President's Blog and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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