Sighted as part of successive Government’s economic diversification plans, the creative industry was not left out of the 2018 budget with Finance Minister Colm Imbert proposing a live music district for the sector’s growth and development.
While the ministers of Community Development, Culture and the Arts, Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly and Trade and Industry Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon praised the initiative, Vasant Bharath, former Minister of Trade, Industry, Investment and Communications described Imbert’s plans for the sector as ‘airy fairy'.
In his budget speech, Imbert said Government was facilitating the development of the creative industry in particular music, film and fashion. Government plans to implement an artiste portfolio development programme, “which will support artistes who are on the verge of becoming export ready by leveraging their creative talents on the worldwide market.”
He also spoke to an export ready academy which would assist local artistes with producing, marketing and exporting their music and the establishment of a live music district to provide a year-round space for live and musical activities. He said a strategic plan was being developed for the film industry with training and certification programmes which would be on par with international standards.
A production assistance and script development programme, Imbert said, would be launch to provide funding to film makers to produce high quality films. He said Trinidad and Tobago Television’s return would be an outlet for the films to be regularly broadcast.
Not leaving the fashion industry out, Imbert said a garment production facility was being established in conjunction with the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT) at the John Donaldson campus.
When asked to comment, Bharath said he found the entire presentation to be lacklustre and short-sighted. He said Government should have focused its attention on job creation for the nation’s youth.
“When you look specifically at the creative industries a lot of what he said was very airy fairy and highly unlikely to be able to be implemented. It sounds good on paper but as was said earlier this year the government has a major problem with implementation so that is the issue," Bharath said.
Gadsby-Dolly said, however, the sector was taking off, especially when one looked at the film industry. “I think the increased incentives will go a long way in terms of showing the artistes that we are interested and supportive of the efforts to diversify the economy,” she said.
She added both ministries were forging links to discuss the development of artistes. Asked about the live music district, Gadsby-Dolly said she had a couple of ideas for the district and was glad to hear it. “I think it is a step in the right direction. To have this in the national budget is a big step and I look forward to the operationalisation.”
Asked about the live music district, Gopee-Scoon said there were a number of possible spaces, including the National Academy for the Performing Arts and the Government Campus.