Excerpt of a presentation to the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce, Sept 26, 2019
In Jamaica it is a double edged sword. The harder it is to operate in legitimate, formal sectors; the more attractive it become to join easier, illicit sectors; particularly if you have the skills and equipment to do it. If you are trained in digital economy skills and cannot use them to make a living, surely you will find another way to keep alive. It is critical that we move to create viable opportunities for our young people or there will be in inexhaustible supply of scamming services available on the market. We could spend hours going over case studies on digital corruption and crimes involving CCI’s.
The second is the world of fine art. This year’s Global Art Market Report tells us that last year the global art market grew by 6% to an estimated 67.6 billion USD. This counted sales through auctions, art fairs and online sales Many businesses and individuals purchase fine art as investments. Investors can have diverse art catalogues by investing across the various categories of art and have the advantage of high returns on investment as well as the pleasure of the work itself. The art market globally employs 3 million persons last year, with almost 311-thousand businesses. Sector growth last year resulted in an increased spend in external support services of 3% year on year supporting over 375-thousand additional jobs. The Global Art Market tells us that the fine art sector is said to be impenetrable by risk analysis; building intrigue in the investment process. It is an unpredictable market because it is not only regulated by supply and demand, but also by the highly nebulous factor of taste.
The Jamaica art scene is quite viable, but there are many local challenges, outlined here quite simplistically, without addressing the deep complexities that cause these challenges, in the interest of time.
Across international borders and right here in Jamaica that are challenges, the smuggling of art continues unabated. art with values that can purchase real estate is removed from frames slips across the borders disguised as prints, as fabric, wrapped in dirty clothing. Art is even removed from public places. Art and antiques theft are also big business.
CONTRADICTIONS ‘CAUSE’ CORRUPTION AND CRIME
- Incentives: Every government of the world that has deliberately designed their cultural economy has made policy choices. This includes incentives. I got hold of Jamaica’s Customs Tariff Revision (Amendment) (Resolution) (2013) – that is the amendment to the Customs Act. Like the Jamaican Police who issue traffic tickets but cannot arrest persons with multiple hundreds of tickets; the customs professionals have to adhere to the Act and its revisions. They take the abuse even when those rules, which they did not set, are absurd. The Customs legislative amendments speak to tools of trade incentives for two sectors out of a possible 35. Some might say we should look at the 7 priority sectors – (depending on which document you read) but I am still unconvinced about how we arrived at those seven without the necessary data. So how were the choices made for those 2 for Tariffs? What about the others? So how about a planned and strategic rationalisation of existing incentives across CCIs? Perhaps post IMF we can choose to rationalise our CCI incentives by providing holistic, uniform policy including incentives while maintaining fiscal discipline?
- Procurement: As we know, many cultural and creative products and services are intangible. This has caused much consternation globally regarding their valuation. As a result, fleecing, over charging, padding of bills and other corrupt practices do exist across CCI’s not just here, but worldwide. This often poses a challenge for procurement processes. In Jamaica, the revision of the Public Procurement Act in 2015 presents significant ambivalence. Under that act, several cultural and creative sectors are exempt from procurement rules on the grounds that they are “in support of or associated with creative expression or special events”.
I see two challenges here:
- The first is the global difficulty associated with valuing intangible goods and services. The second is the claim that creative goods and services by their very nature have nuances that require sole source loopholes. I suggest that this is an expedient claim. We need to ask ourselves, are we moving towards a cultural economy or not? Are we working within a ‘market’ or are we not? The tender process for each creative activity should include set budgets for shortlisted applicants to produce creative bids alongside their financial bids. Developing creative bids costs money. Persons who need creative services should pay for the development of creative work, even if they are bids. That should solve the problem of getting optimal creativity, competitively. Bidders should be given adequate time for delivery. Too often a short turn around for bids is deliberately given because someone has already been chosen for the job, even before the bid goes out. Many events are periodical, and budgets for them are often cast annually. There should be no excuse for transparent procurement processes. For fairness, creative projects of over a defined value must go to tender and enough time must be provided on national calendars for this process to work.
- The second challenge refers to the valuation of cultural goods and services. This is a challenge faced by CCI practitioners worldwide. In Jamaica, where we have been trading cultural and creative products for centuries, our markets have demonstrated their ability to set uniform rates across sectors, plus or minus a few variations. Where an exceptional rate is required for exceptional talent, sole source must be justified. However legislating the ability to use a cultural and creative purveyor of choice at will, without a competitive process does not provide a level playing field. This includes public education campaigns and special events, which have been known in the past to present perfect opportunities for money laundering, kickbacks and preferential treatment for chosen organisations.
There are a couple other challenges that need to be addressed from a governance standpoint:
- Governance structures for CCI still need to be rationalised.
- There are still 6 Ministries through which CCI policy and legislation are administered and six supporting (with direct elements of policy oversight). That’s 12 Ministries.
- A MDA dedicated to CCI development is required for CCI as a clearing house. This prevents inter agency competition, contradiction and manipulation and provides a unity of focus. The sectors are converging operationally, so must also policy.
- Uniformity of process and purpose is critical for the development of these sectors, and I do not mean the kind that officials tell us exists, but the kind that results in effective, efficient, all of government results in policy, legislation and service delivery.
- Satellite Accounts – well enough said. Jamaican CCI has none. We are still apportioning CCI revenues to other related sectors. This, plus the absence of data on the sectors makes it easy for information to ‘slip through the cracks’. Without this tool, we will not be able to see either the big picture or its elements sufficiently.
Today we have spoken about corruption and a little about crimes…. Now about Craven. In the English language, ‘craven’ means, “unwilling to fight; lacking even the rudiments of courage; extremely cowardly”.
How many of you have had a chance to listen to the Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg who advocates for the blue and green economies?
She is a 16 year old with the passion and courage to say to the leadership of our times, many of the things that persons twice her age are too ‘craven’ to say. She has proven that the time has come…it is critical that we speak up about the challenges.
The JCC can help in the advocacy to this end. It is in its interest. The emerging industries are digital, creative and innovation industries. The JCC has the opportunity to get ahead of the curve and assist in the advocacy for the full rationalisation of CCIs. TT
These are some of our specific recommendations for the challenges of crime and corruption in CCIs; which is only a small part of fixing our national cultural economy.
This is important to us at Ink and Vision Ltd, because we facilitate creative enterprise Ink and Vision Ltd is a boutique agency.
Small creative companies outsource some of their operations to us. Business entities who need bespoke creative services or seek to engage creative professionals or teams for creative projects, we do the business interface on their behalf with the creative teams. So, we help traditional business-persons to speak the language of creativity. While there are instances that the two intersect naturally, there are processes, nuances and cultures of the creative sector that are sometimes out of step with the business of business; which we admit readily. Sometimes this requires bridging, which is what we do. We are advocates of the ‘Orange Economy’. We believe in it and want to build it. In order to build an economy we must first fix it – as your theme suggests face the challenges head on.
At the Institute of Caribbean Studies at the UWI, Mona where I lecture, these issues are also of concern. The new Bachelors Degree in Cultural and Creative Industries that I coordinate, prepares young people for this new world of work. So does the Entertainment and Cultural Enterprise Management BA in the ICS. It is important that our graduates are able to navigate this emerging sector, that are and will continue to be central to national, regional and global development.
We are inviting you at the JCC to join in this effort to secure diversified business and investment portfolios that will lead to greater productivity and growth? It has been over twenty years since creative industries officially began to be discussed globally. CARICOM has had it squarely on its agenda since at least 2006. In 2014 revisions to the local policy started. As we approach 2020, we look forward to its completion.