by Susan Mains, Commissioner of the Grenada Pavilion, Biennale di Venezia
My Facebook and Instagram feeds are full of Caribbean artists. I like Caribbean art. I am passionate for it. It tells our stories in a way that is unmatched for universal communication.
Aside from Grenada, Barbados is of particular interest because I have been exhibiting my own art there for almost 20 years. Lately, through a DNA test and research on Ancestry, I find that I actually have Bajan roots.
Imagine my thrill when trolling Facebook yesterday I learned that their Minister of Culture, John King put out a press release.
“As of today, Monday June 3rd 2019, Duty-Free Concessions will be made available for Cultural Practitioners in Barbados. As Minister of Creative Economy, Culture & Sports, I am adamant that our industry practitioners must be able to access allowances which would allow them to develop their craft, product or business. A ministerial statement and press coverage would provide the details on the system we have implemented. However, I am pleased that we have been able to make such a monumental step.”— Hon. John King.
It was 6 years ago that the Cultural Industries Act came into being, and the creative community is finally receiving their incentive.
Artists in Trinidad report that their sales steadily increased when the government of Trinidad and Tobago enacted tax legislation that allowed Trinidad companies a 150% concession on taxes if they spent the money on a work of art from a Trinidadian. Instant cause and effect to boost the income of artists, and the community involvement of companies.
The US Daily Chronicles reported in February: Today the Re:Create Coalition released the second annual report on the economic value of the New Creative Economy, documenting that 16.9 million independent American creators earned a baseline of $6.8 billion from posting their music, videos, art, crafts and other works online in 2017. Building upon last year’s study, the report found the number of new creators grew by 2.4 million (16.6%) and total revenues grew by 14.8%.
Moreover, these results cover only 9 leading online platforms for Americans participating in the New Creative Economy: Amazon Publishing, eBay, Etsy, Instagram, Shapeways, Tumblr, Twitch, WordPress and YouTube.
Note that all these online avenues are available to Grenadians. What is needed is incentives; a tax and vat elimination on the material inputs for works of art.
Culture Minister Norland Cox has been indeed supportive of the visual arts. We see an increasing appreciation and recognition of its value to culture.
Artists will always make art, the question is, how much will Grenada benefit. Let us make Grenada the next Caribbean island to fall in line and give our creatives the incentives they need.