by Erica K Smith
The member-states of the Caribbean Community (Caricom) have a wonderful opportunity to make full use of the Covid-19 pandemic to review their economic strategies.
They need to revamp the commercial sectors to become more competitive for future economic growth.
That is why the much talked about creative and cultural industries or the latest focus, the Orange Economy must become more than a buzz if we are to create well-paying jobs and earn foreign exchange.
It is evident that there are potentially major benefits recognised in these industries for the Caribbean, but it seems as though we have been challenged in the realisation of that possibility. But let us get the matter of definitions out the way so that we are clear about what we are referring to and not get lost in the semantics.
Here, the Orange Economy and the creative economy are considered the same, “…those sectors which specialise in the use of creative talent for commercial purposes.” They include heritage, museums, libraries, and galleries; marketing, advertising; product design, fashion and textiles, furniture and graphic design; architecture; crafts; television, video, photography, film, animation, gaming, radio; writing and publishing; software and electronic publishing; music, performing, and visual arts and cultural education.
The excitement about the creative economy resides in the scope of industries involved and how deeply linked they are with each other and non-creative industries.
The concept of the cultural industries is grounded in cultural activities, and we also assume that there is significant overlap with the definitions applied to the other terminology. However, it is clear, that we are not limited to those activities traditionally thought of as cultural or the arts which seems to have defined our approach thus far. One area of definite overlap is that these all rely on the creation and commercialisation of intellectual property (IP) rights, especially copyright but other rights as well. Increasingly, in a digital environment, to secure and generate income, there is reliance on the monetisation of IP rights.
Most of the money in the music and gaming industries comes from the licencing of copyright and trademarks through content streaming and merchandising. This is why even though live performances were devastated during the pandemic, these two industries saw soaring revenues.
From a policy perspective, it means that there must be effective and targeted policies and strategies in place to support education and skills development, research and development, innovation, business and export development and marketing for at least those industries identified as national priorities. An accessible and functioning legal framework is also required.
If the fundamental role of intellectual property rights is appreciated then the argument that these rights are of little or no value to small, developing economies must be discarded. We must recognise that successfully developing an Orange Economy means developing an IP system in tandem that is responsive to our development needs.
We often look to Singapore, and this is in fact a key pillar to that country’s development. There, it has been a very focused, purposeful development of a creative economy supported by its IP system and not just the use of colourful language. The region needs to connect the dots if we are to be successful.
Erica K Smith PhD is a regional consultant with expertise in intellectual property strategy and management. www.i-manageintellect.com