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Stakeholders discuss creative industries company

Thursday, January 31 2013

QUESTIONS were being raised, as to whether or not the proposal to create the Trinidad and Tobago Creative Industries Company (TTCIC) can function effectively, and meet the needs of all industries within the sector.

A number of persons from various creative industries voiced their concerns with TTCIC at its stakeholders consultation meeting held last Thursday, at the Capital Plaza Hotel, Port-of-Spain.

Trinidad and Tobago Coalition of Services Industries (TTCSI), which works with 13 associations in the creative industry, facilitated the meeting. Wayne Punnette, Director of Investments at the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Investment (MTII), presented the revised proposal for TTCIC coming out previous consultations, December last. Punnette said that the new proposal took into consideration the main concerns expressed by the stakeholders.

These concerns included: persons chosen to sit on the Board of directors of TTCIC, implementation of work done by the high level panel of experts on the creative industry in 2011, and the relationship between TTCIC and TTFC. The Board of directors, according to Punnette, will be a composition of business directors and persons from the creative industry.

The Board would also work with a representative from the three advisory councils, which would be chosen by the stakeholders.The advisory councils will represent the fashion, new media and arts, film, and music and entertainment industries.

“The idea is that these advisory councils would be the link between the TTCIC and the industries,” Punnette explained. He also said the composition of the Board of directors was not decided upon, and concerns by the stakeholders would be considered before it was finalised.

Punnette assured stakeholders that work done by the high level panel of experts under the Ministry of Planning and Sustainable Development to create strategies to develop the creative industry, would be incorporated into the work of TTCIC. Kevin Nurse, Chair of the high level panel, noted that the research showed that implementation, lack of sustained strategies and good governance of the creative industry were the main challenges.

“Based on these challenges, we recommended the creation of a ‘creative capital,’ because we did not want to use the term company,” Nurse said. As such, with TT Film Company (TTFC) and TT Entertainment Company (TTENT) already created, the proposal for the creation of a TT Heritage, TTArts, TTFestival and TTFashion was requested. Punnette then explained that focus will only be placed on film, fashion, new media and arts, and music and entertainment.

Carnival arts, festivals, and heritage which also fall under the creative sector, would remain under its respective ministries until TTCIC was fully developed as a functional company.

TTCIC, said Punnette, would seek to make the creative industry a more commericalised sector, which will generate profits to further develop the industry.

In response to the new proposal presented, Dion Boucaud, film maker and Chairman of the Independent Media Producers Association of Trinidad and Tobago (IMPATT) said that development of the film industry and distribution difficulties was a major concern for TTFC.

He questioned whether development of local film will be a focus for TTCIC since the new company will be focusing on the commercial aspect of the creative industry.

“We are concerned because the television industry has died in local production with the production of foreign programming now. There is very little local content outside of news,” Boucaud said. He further noted that getting local films out on the international market was also a problem. In order to deal with the distribution difficulties, Boucaud said, treaties needed to drafted to allow local films access into the international market.

“Treaties were drafted some years ago, but is currently stalled at the MTII,” Boucaud pointed out.

Even though the TTFC was able to remain a separate entity, and not be dismantled and dissolved into TTCIC, Boucaud questioned whether TTFC would have to gain the approval of TTCIC before it makes any decision, since TTFC would have to answer to TTCIC, which would be the parent company.

Christopher Nathan, representative for the fashion industry, presented recommendations for the structure of TTCIC. He stated that the Board of directors for TTCIC should include a representative from Tobago, legal intellectual property representative, trade facilitation representative, creative industry specialist, and a academia representative.

He also suggested that two representatives from each sector be placed on the board instead of the proposed one. “Members of the fashion industry would also like the assurance that TTCIC would make sure development of fashion is focused on,” Nathan noted.

Gail Guy, representative for the arts industry voiced her concerns with whether a structure would be created for the equal distribution of finances in TTCIC. The focus of the music and entertainment industry was not development, as with other sectors, but rather the commercial component.

Fabien Alfonso, President of Recording Industrial Association of TT (RIATT), said they were satisfied that TTCIC intends to focus on commercialising the creative industry.

“However, we want to extinguish any talks about hand outs or grants for the music stakeholders, but rather for TTCIC to be our partner or investor,” Alfonso explained. He further stated that they hope TTCIC would invest in the marketing and promotion aspect of music production, and a percentage of the profits would be given back to TTCIC.

Other members of the creative industry also expressed their concerns and objections to some aspects of the new proposal presented by Punnette. Chairman of the National Carnival Development Foundation (NCDF), Mahindra Satram-Maharaj, contended that all creative industries should be placed under TTCIC, and not just film, fashion, new media and arts, and music and entertainment, as stated by Punnette.

“TTCIC should deal with all areas of the creative industry, and not leave the Carnival arts, festivals, and heritage out,” Satram-Maharaj noted.

Christopher Laird, Chairman of the TTFC, questioned the need for TTCIC, noting that MTII wanted to create synergy between all the creative industries through TTCIC, but Laird believed that synergy already existed between the creative industries.

“What I do not understand is why did the government state that other companies like TTCIC were created international, when based on my research, that was not factual. No where has there ever been a company like TTCIC created in any country,” Laird said

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