Saturday, 14 October 2017

ARTISTIC RICHES: National leaders vow to robustly explore the economic viability of arts and culture

TALENT ON SHOW: The conference also allows young and emerging artists to put their works on display.

THE largely untapped economic potential of the arts and culture in Jamaica is a topic that recurs in the public discourse, especially against the backdrop of widespread unemployment among graduates with arts-based degrees. With the arrival of the 2017 Rex Nettleford Arts Conference (under the theme “Arts and Culture for the 21st Century: Millennial Dis-Engagement, Engagement, Re-Engagement”) it comes sharply into focus.

“As Jamaica faces the challenge of achieving the levels of inclusive economic growth required to raise living standards for all, it is clear that this can only be realized by maximizing to the fullest the economic potential of arts and culture,” says Dr. Peter Phillips in his message welcoming the return of the conference for its fourth staging. “I enthusiastically support the aim of the conference to provide a space where the ideas of our young people can be supported and encouraged within and beyond institutional walls.

This conference is particularly welcome for the fact that it provides a supportive pillar for the Youth Employment, Innovation and the New Economy Commission, which I recently launched to transform global competitive areas of the Jamaican economy, leverage the energy and talents of Jamaica’s youth and contribute to sustained and equitable economic growth.” 

Culture minister Olivia Grange urges local stakeholders to do more to bring about advancement in such a dynamic sector, considered a driver of innovation, creativity, productivity and growth. “It is now an established fact that the creative industries contribute as much as 5% to Jamaica’s GDP. This provides evidence that the cultural and creative industries can become a pillar for diversification and export growth in Jamaica,” Grange notes. “It is through discussions such as yours [at the conference] that we will be able to raise awareness, share experiences and unearth new ways in which we can all benefit from our cultural offerings.” 

According to PM Andrew Holness, the ruling government remains committed to tapping into the income-generating power of the arts. “There is a wealth of expertise and untapped potential in the area of the performing arts and visual arts that must be better leveraged to meet our national goals,” he says. “My administration is committed to engaging Jamaican talent in order to transform Jamaica into the place of choice to live, raise families and do business. My administration shares the vision that Jamaica can achieve social and economic independence through arts and culture.” 

Hosted by the Edna Manley College, the just-concluded conference (this years marked the fourth biennial staging) brought together local and international delegates, arts practitioners, policymakers, researchers, educators and students, for three days of seminars, workshops, performances and insightful presentations.

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