Cultural Sector Development projects for Inclusion in the National Budget 2013/14 Under the Public Sector Investment Programme (PSIP): THE PRIORITY LISTING
Cabinet has approved 7 priority agendas from the Development Agenda for the Sector including the creation of a National Arts Council.
3 months ago ACTT president Rubadiri Victor was invited by the Minister of the Arts Lincoln Douglas to become his Advisor- with a specific mission to get development programmes implemented. Mr Victor immediately went to the ACTT board with the offer and they approved it. They felt it was the organisation’s duty to take the chance to finally get the sector’s agendas implemented. They then took the decision to the sector. Organisations and artists gave Mr Victor a mandate and an agenda to accomplish. For 3 months he reported on his progress in carrying out those missions monthly.
The mission was to get the Progressive Agenda adopted as official Ministry of Arts policy- and specifically to get it as a PSIP item for the Ministry in this year’s Budget. To do this there were a number of principalities and powers that needed to be overcome. The Progressive Agenda has been an orphan in T&T’s political system for a reason- there are vested interest in the public service, and on both political sides (Cabinet and Opposition) that have fought against these agendas being manifest. They all came forward to do that job once Rubadiri began his job. There are about 5 sets of vested interest that needed to be fought at close quarters- each representing a level of approval necessary to advance the Budget documents. Rubadiri was able to overcome 4 of them in 2 months which meant that the progressive agenda of the Sector was accepted as the Ministry of Art’s official Budgetary agenda for the first time in our sector’s history. It also represented the first time the Ministry adopted a ‘Development’ Agenda to run alongside its normal agendas.
However at Cabinet level at first try every single proposal of the Development Agenda was thrown out. Rubadiri engaged negotiations to attempt to save the agenda and it was allowed to be re-presented to Cabinet after re-working where it seemed another hurdle had appeared. ACTT and the sector alongside the Federation of Independent Trade Unions and NGOs staged a press conference which was carried on radio and press to put pressure. Meanwhile Rubadiri and Minister Douglas continued battling. The official Budget documents were printed without the agendas. Finally in an emergency Finance and General Purposes (FNGP) Cabinet meeting on Budget morning the Minister made a plaintive plea for the Agenda. That morning the Cabinet approved the 7 priority agendas from the programme. The most far-reaching is the creation of an Arts Council which has the power to activate the other 17 programmes on the Progressive Agenda. It represents a serious victory because the approved projects are worth $150 million- only $80 million less than what was originally asked for for all 24.
This victory means that the Sector now has the green light to transform certain fundamentals in how the Creative Sector is run. But this story should alert the Sector to the resistance to such change which will not go away easily. The Sector is therefore advised to get literate and articulate about the agendas. It must also understand that we must be strategic in how and what we implement. The aim now is to test the “responsivity” of the arms of government to implement these programmes. A 5 month schedule is being drawn up so that by mid-October when 2013/14 funds are released a plan of action is ready. We are asking concerned artists and representative groups to discuss the agendas and feed into a discussion about the implementation agenda. You can download the Budget docs here. Concentrate on those specific programmes that may affect your sector. You can send your discussions to: ACTT at firstname.lastname@example.org
NATIONAL BUDGET 2013/14 PSIP : RATIONALE
The following agenda of programmes, projects, and interventions is meant to re-orient the focus of the Ministry of Arts and Multiculturalism towards the preparation of stakeholders, the policy environment, institutions, and legislative and fiscal enablers for the creation and sustaining of a multi-billion Creative and Cultural Industry run by international Best-Practice principles.
Historically the Ministry has not had as its agenda the fulfilment of an enabling ecosystem for Creative and Cultural activity, seeing itself more as a facilitator of festival and folk-based activity. Certain patterns of spending and resource allocation have become custom having nothing to do with industrial development, fulfilling the potential of the sector- or even the production of ‘good art.’
T&T has missed the 4 international waves of retooling of national Creative economies that were implemented in the 1940s/50s (Arts Councils, Heritage, Museums, Theatre & Dance), 1960s (Music Industry, Intellectual property), 1970s (Broadcast Local Content Quotas), and 1990s (New Media, Retooled Heritage institutions, treaties, policy and legislation, etc). These foundational structural interventions prepared the way for the current annual $1.3 trillion global Creative Economy- making entertainment the second largest industry on earth. The Ministry of Arts must begin putting these institutions in place immediately.
This urgency is compounded by the following factors:
- Having lost 19,000 of 20,000of our genius Golden Age cohort whilst squandering collecting and curating their Legacy, we are on the last legs of capturing the billion-dollar value of that magical generation.
- T&T needs to consolidate the global buzz our genius diaspora has generated in Hip-Hop, theatre, Hollywood, and sports- with talents like Nicki Minaj, Theophilus London, Heather Headley, Tatiana Ali and others. We need to be strategic about this moment which will only last for a while to leverage our brand and T&T product internationally. This requires industrial preparation. It is a multi-billion dollar opportunity.
- Because of the failure to implement the 4 waves of Creative Industry interventions in the past nearly every single T&T culture sub-sector is in decline in terms of local and global audience, technical skill, indigenous retention, brand cache,etc. This is true for: theatre; visual arts; various musics- calypso, soca, chutney, parang, East Indian and African traditional drumming, etc; festivals like carnival; panorama; hosay; the Music Festival.
- Our continued failure to implement these agendas will lead to a fall of West Indies Cricket-like proportions due to the same failure to consolidate Legacy
Most, if not all the projects that are mentioned in the 24 point agenda can still be launched within the fold of the Arts Council.
In the last 3 years ACTT has been able to win major National Budget battles by going straight to the Ministry of Finance and by bypassing our line-Ministry (the Ministry of Arts) who seemed never interested in the progressive agendas of the Sector. ACTT was able to convince the Finance Minister and his technocrats- and other allies in government we would canvas- of the validity of our programmes. That’s how for the first 2 PPG Budgets ACTT was able to win 75%+ of the progressive agenda for the Sector in the Budgets- gains the Sector had not been able to win since Independence. The problem was that there was no implementation of these agendas. For a number of reasons.
One big reason was because the Sector’s implementing arm—the Ministry of Arts—was never on-board the Sector’s vision. ACTT’s president Rubadiri Victor accepted an appointment as Advisor to the Minister of Arts because it came with the express mission of Implementation of the Progressive Agenda. This means that the opportunity exists- for the first time in the history of the Sector- for the vision of the Sector to also become the vision of the Minister and Ministry! This of course is easier said than done, but the process has now been engaged.
The most important outcome of this has been the thrust by Rubadiri to get the Ministry to adopt ACTT’s and the Sector’s progressive agenda as its own. This is a developmental agenda meant to retool the sector from a $1.7 billion earner annually to becoming a $6- $7 billion earner annually within 4 years. This transformation is possible by the creating of an enabling ecosystem of legislation, institutions, policies, and enabling fiscal programmes which are international Best Practice. The fail-safe for implementation is the creation of an Arts Council based on the renowned Canadian and British Best Practice models as the vehicle for implementation.
This document is the full Budget document for the 2013/14 PSIP. On Budget Day September 9th 2013 the sector and the nation will see if government has heeded the Sector’s warnings and adopted the Sector’s vision.