Traditionally Barbados’ economy has been driven by manufacturing, agriculture and tourism. These sectors have largely been responsible for the growth in our economy over time and the relatively stable employment levels to which Barbadians have become accustomed. However, in this last decade we have seen a drastic decline in manufacturing and agriculture while tourism continues to struggle amidst global economic and social challenges and competitive markets elsewhere.
In recent times we have witnessed an increased focus on the Services Sector which is growing in other developed countries and is largely linked to new skills and innovation. The European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions has argued that this century has experienced a shift called tertiarization. The services sector which has been termed the tertiary sector is now the largest sector of the economy in the Western world, and is also the fastest-growing sector.
Furthermore, according to the UNCTAD Global Database on the Creative economy (2013) global trade in creative goods and services reached a record US$624 billion up from US$559.5 billion in 2010. It is estimated that the average annual growth rate between 2002 and 2011 was 8.8%. Growth of creative exports was strongest in developing countries averaged around 12.1% for the same period. However, outside of China, there are very few developing countries in the top 20 exporters of creative goods. This growth trend and the absence of Developing countries in the export market creates potential for new entrants in the area of goods and services, especially new and indigenous goods.
Within the Barbadian context, the creative sector is listed as a critical sector. During the economic crisis, the creative industry was one of the sectors that emerged as a key growth area, with an annual growth rate of over 8% outperforming most other sectors (Business Barbados, 2013). Despite this, there is still a widening deficit in the trade of cultural goods i.e. Barbados imports more than it exports. A look into the domestic culture sector shows that Barbados’ strength lies in the provision of cultural services namely live performances, tours and concerts.
This supports the notion that there is room for the playing of ‘folk’ content on Broadway, Disney and other international stages in the same way that the story of Lion King has been portrayed and in the same way that Beryl McBurnie of Trinidad was able to mesmerize Broadway audiences with Trinidadian content. Therefore, access to new research and built capacity of key stakeholders will allow for development of content to trade, exchange and play to international audiences.
It is against this background that The Pinelands Creative Workshop submitted a proposal to the Ministry of Labour through its Human Resource Development Strategy’s Programme Implementation Unit. The project which has subsequently been approved seeks to develop and enhance the indigenous historical community cultural art forms and its key stakeholders to provide viable export products and services worthy of making a significant contribution to the cultural industry in Barbados. For decades many communities and organizations across the island have made significant contributions to the cultural landscape at the national level and for tourism promotion through exchanges and performances in their respective communities, at national entertainment activities as well as overseas. Some of these indigenous cultural groups include, Dance National Afrique, Israel Lovel Foundation, Barbados Landship, Dancin Africa and Pinelands Creative Workshop.
The project will be implemented in two components, the local component to be funded through the Ministry of Labor and the International component to be supported directly through the European Union.
1. The broad objectives of the local component are:
2. To enhance the cultural product (dance, musical and drama) offered by community cultural organizations which trade in the performing arts within the local tourism industry regionally and internationally by researching and documenting cultural practices and norms that inform their art form.
3. To strengthen the capacities of cultural stakeholders within indigenous cultural groups through increase knowledge to use documented materials to produce enhanced artistic products for local, regional and international markets
While the International components reflect:
1. The internationalization of community performance arts
2. An economic audit and analysis of the sector
3. Enhanced products and services; and
4. Knowledge transfer through linkages into the National KM framework