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Cash in on culture - Grange wants culture to drive economic growth

Published:Friday | May 6, 2016 | 12:00 AMAndre Poyser
Katrine Grigsby (left) director and representative, UNESCO cluster office Caribbean, exchanges documents with Olivia 'Babsy' Grange, minister with responsibility for culture and entertainment, yesterday. Looking on are (from left, background): Everton Hannam, director general UNESCO Jamaica; Dr Janice Lindsay, principal director culture and creative industries, Policy Division, Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport; and Yuri Peshkov, cultural programme specialist UNESCO cluster office.

As Jamaica prepares to revise its National Culture Policy, Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Olivia Grange has signalled that she wants the new document to focus strongly on the economic value of culture.

"We intend to create new platforms of engagements to expand the global reach of our Jamaican culture and entertainment," she said. The aim is also to increase national revenue streams through partnerships with global enterprises "who have been engaged in leveraging our Jamaican cultural goods and services all over the world", she said at the signing of a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) contract for the revision of Jamaica's National Culture Policy, yesterday.

Professor of Literary and Cultural Studies at the University of the West Indies Dr Carolyn Cooper has, however, expressed some level of reservation about the commitment of the Government to facilitate the cultural industry in Jamaica.

When asked if she thinks lip service has been done to the creative industries, Cooper said, "I don't know if it's lip service, but I think the creative industries have not really got the support of Government."

Cooper argued that the continued imposition of import duty on musical instruments and raw materials used in the creative industries indicates that the necessary steps that are needed to enable the sector are not being taken.