In the budget for the 2023 fiscal year, the Dickon Mitchell-led government announced their financial commitments to invest in the Creative economy, therefore creating a new economic driver for Grenada.
Further, the Creative economy has been identified as one of the five priority areas for the new government in the first few years of governance. The interest lay in the potential for quality job creation, especially for young people under age 35, and export earnings.
Quoting remarks from Minister Lennox Andrews, Minister of Economic Development, Planning, Tourism, ICT, and the Creative Economy, from a Press conference briefing, “The effective management of the Creative Industries allows us to leverage the abundance of talent and skill that Grenadians possess to produce competitive products and services that can be exported internationally.”
The Creative economy has been in existence in a rather informal, adjunct, and unorganised manner over the last 20 years in Grenada. Many will be familiar with theatre performance, dance, music, Carnival, photography, videography, graphic design, fashion and art.
Examples of local Grenadians and Grenadian entities that can be considered to fall under the Creative Economy include Heritage Theatre, La Boucan Centre, Creative Arts Theatre, Conception Dance, Spicemas Corporation with Carnival celebrations in August, soca artists including renown artists like Mr. Killa, Vaughn, Tallpree, other musicians such as Sabrina Francis, Jeverson Ramirez and Zorina Andall who are venturing into the international market, fashion and jewelry designers such as Nutmeg Designs and Co, Art Fabrik and Fidel productions.
Finally, there are the local artists including Susan and Asher Mains, Nashon Jeremiah, Arts, and other artists represented under the Grenada Arts Council. Not forgetting, Grenada made history in the 1957 when the island was the destination for the filming of the Hollywood movie “Island in the Sun” starring Harry Belafonte and Joan Fontaine.
Film is another area under the Creative economy, and while there have not been films of that grandeur since that time, it does amplify the potential of Grenada as an excellent destination for film production.
The Dickon-Mitchell led government is taking a different approach with the Creative Economy that seeks to formalise the sector as an economic pillar in the Grenadian economy. This is a very bold and significant move to bring recognition to the creatives, both in recognition of their works and their direct contribution to economic growth.
This move is in line with the direction taken by other islands to develop their Creative Economy such as Barbados, Jamaica and Trinidad.
Jamaica is by far the leading example of the economic gains and international recognition that can be achieved through the Creative economy.
Jamaica’s reggae and dancehall music and artists are well-known internationally, there are premier festival developments such as Reggae Sumfest and the commercialisation of Jamaica’s culture, dance, and food.
Within the OECS, the emergence of the creative economy is seen in festival development such as the Creole Festival of Dominica and the Saint Lucia Jazz Festival.
My first focus in this article is to explain what the Creative economy is, and who can be defined as a creative. The “Creative economy” and “creatives” are the hottest buzz words in Grenada. Let me start with defining the creative economy.
The creative economy refers to a broad range of economic activities that are based on creativity and innovation. The major outputs of the Creative economy are highly symbolic, and often intangible products and services.
Areas under this economic sector include: advertising, architecture, art and antiques, crafts, design, fashion, film, music, performing arts, publishing, software and computer games, television and radio, and video games.
In a “Beyond The Headlines” interview of January 2023, Advisor on The Creative Economy, Mr. Orlando Romain identified that the Government intends to focus on film, fashion, music and games development in the immediate.
Further the website of the Grenada Office of Creative Affairs (GOCA) indicates six priority areas: Film, Music, Performing Arts, Fashion and Jewelery, Game Development and Visual Arts and Craft.
No reasons were given why these areas were prioritised, but it is believed that potential investors and businesses may be lined up to support interests in these priority areas.
Music is most likely one of the easiest areas to move forward with given the rise of local artists on the international stage in both soca and contemporary music.
Coding education for young people can accelerate the pace of entrance into the games development market. The Government of Grenada has partnered with Caribbean Coding Academy to pilot coding in some schools as a critical first step to support this priority area of games development.
The National Sustainable Development Plan (NSDP), 2030-2035, includes plans for an Orange Economy. The Orange Economy refers to the Creative Economy.
The NSDP recognises the role of the Government in providing an enabling environment to adequately support the creative arts and industry.
According to the plan, “Grenada, being rich in culture and heritage, certainly has an abundant supply of creative talents and imaginations, which, if properly developed and harnessed, can allow us to compete regionally and globally.
The Creative Economy is expected to: generate decent and sustainable jobs, preserve our cultural heritage and identity, create social impact, and advance sustainable development and transformation.
Continuing with the definition of the Creative economy, this economy thrives on the production and distribution of creative goods and services that can generate income including foreign exchange revenue and most importantly, employment for young persons under 35.
According to the UN, the creative economy worldwide generates annual revenues of over $2 trillion dollars, and accounts for nearly 50 million jobs.
The Creative economy contributes just over 6.1% to GDP, averaging between 2% and 7% of national GDPs for economies with established sectors.
An example of the impact on employment, the UK, is a good example in which 10% of total employment comes from the Creative economy. Income is generated from the sales of goods, services and intellectual property rights.
Within the Caribbean region, Jamaica provides a good reference point. According to a UNESCO report 2020, 5.7% of employment is driven by the Creative industry, and the industry contributes 9.30% to GDP.
The Bob Marley Foundation led by the wife of the late Bob Marley, Rita Marley, is a key contributor, earning revenue from the licensing of Bob Marley Museum, merchandise, images, and other intellectual property.
In Grenada, the Creative economy is expected to provide employment to young persons. This brings to the second focus – who is a creative?
A creative is anyone who has creative talent, and who can turn that creative talent into goods, services or charge fees for use by others. Creative talent refers to unique talents, either innate talent from birth or acquired by training. These include music, singing, drawing and artistry, writing, storytelling, performing, dancing, programming etc.
Other creative talents include having a unique voice or sound, hand coordination skills to make craft or build inventions, ability to craft an image or look which is the basis of modelling, beauty and fashion.
So how do creatives make money or earn revenue? Three main ways can be highlighted: sale of goods or products, sales of services, and sale of intellectual property rights.
Through the method of selling products or goods: creatives can sell their products through online marketplaces, physical stores, or at events like craft fairs and art exhibitions.
Through the method of offering services: creatives can offer a wide range of services, such as graphic design, web development, copywriting, photography, videography, and music production. They can find clients through their networks, online platforms, or by marketing themselves through social media.
Through the licensing of intellectual property: creatives can license their intellectual property, such as their designs, music, sound beats, voiceovers, or software to others for a fee. This can include licensing their work for use in advertising, film, television, or video games.
Within the Creative economy, not all areas are of equal value. Music is the largest employer in the Creative economy globally. Musicians, for example, post their music on streaming platforms such as Youtube, Spotify, Tidal and Apple music. IT including software programming is the top earner in revenue, followed by Film production.
While the entrance into music is low cost, both film production and software programming are high cost, high return opportunities.
Post-pandemic has seen the rise of new media through online streaming of content, and the emergence of content creators, which is a great low-cost opportunity with high employment opportunity for young people in Grenada.
For those who are content creators, monies can be earned through the production of content to support local, regional, or international brands. This can be user-generated content or sponsored content paid for by brands. The content produced will be the intellectual property of the content creators, who in turn, can sell their content for money to brands.
Overall, the Caribbean is investing in the Creative economy as an opportunity to build the Caribbean brand on the international stage. A well-established Caribbean brand can help push the Caribbean forward to enter niche markets in fashion, independent film, art, video gaming and independent media.
As with everything else, the Caribbean is not taking a holistic approach and a joint effort to build a Caribbean brand. Instead, individual nation states are building their own brands to push their island brands onto the international stage.
Grenada is looking to do the same, to establish an island brand, in the Creative space that would allow for the export of creative goods and attract film production to the island.
The best strategy and approach for a small island with limited resources as Grenada is to leverage reputable Grenadians with established brands to push the island brand. Names such as Fe Noel in Fashion, Glenda Cox in Film production, Dr. Yvette Noel-Schure in media and communications, Sabrina Francis in music, Lewis Hamilton and Kirani James as sports legends, and Nicholas Braithwaite Jr. in Computer and technology innovation.
Partnerships with businesses on the African continent can also help gain a foothold in the market. Africa has become the mecca of the Creative Economy, leading the way with its Afrobeats music and Afro-fashion brands.
In closing, the Creative economy holds numerous benefits for Grenada, and is a step towards progressing Grenada forward!
Christell Simeon is the Owner of Island Learning Grenada