File picture: UTT Year Three student Shane McIntyre with two models in her design titled Fiery Love, under the designer Critic Theme Recycle Glam, during the UTT’s Caribbean Academy of Fashion and Design presentation of UTT’s Designer Critic and Senior Thesis Fashion Show, Bricolage, at the Radisson Hotel Trinidad on Wrightson Road.

Our creativity can make this country money.

In fact, conservative estimates say that our creative industry can make us at least $1 billion a year.

And we need to capitalise on that now.

“The local creative industries are full of talented and industrious persons that continue to contribute to the local economy and with the right resources can be a pillar of growth for our country,” the marketing and communications manager of CreativeTT Gervan Govia stated in an emailed response to the Business Guardian.

Creative industries is defined as “the interface between creativity, culture, economics and technology as expressed in the ability to create and circulate intellectual capital, with the potential to generate income, jobs and export earnings while at the same time promoting social inclusion, cultural diversity and human development”, according to UNCTAD’s 2008 report Creative Economy.

“Yes (our creative industry is a viable option). However, it varies within the sub-sectors of music, film, fashion of the creative industry as some creatives may be at a more advanced level of earning potential. The viability of this sector becomes more imperative as we seek to diversify away from the petrochemical sector,” CreativeTT stated.

“T&T needs to capitalise on the global creative industries which generates US$2.4 trillion and employs an estimated 30 million people annually. The creative industries have been recognised internationally as a driver of diversification in many economies and have been very successful via public and private partnerships in driving sustainable development goals. Our noble ambition is to contribute not less than two per cent or approximately $1 billion to annual national GDP,” it stated.

CreativeTT said a greater collaboration is required however, to get us to the point where we need to be.

“There is unquestionable talent within our creative industries, and we continue to work hard to build their competence to encourage investment in commercialising our talent. There is a need for timely empirical data collection to build a baseline from which benchmarks can be set,” it stated.

“A greater collaboration from both the private and public sectors into the investment, development, and/or further expansion of the local creative sector will all assist in bringing to fruition,” it stated.

The Ministry of Trade and Industry has been leading the government’s efforts to optimise the potential within the creative sector.

“In this new economy based on innovation and globalisation, progressive leaders acknowledge that creativity now drives global competitiveness. As a result those countries that can develop and foster an environment in which creativity can flourish will be able to efficiently drive economic development success,” the Ministry of Trade and Industry stated.

The ministry added that the government recognises this new economic paradigm. It said interest in the creative industry derives from the obvious need for the country to diversify its economy away from an over-dependence on revenues generated from the petrochemical sector. The volatility of the commodity and services sectors in light of the recent global recession has also served to underscore the urgency with which mono-economic approaches to development have to be ameliorated.

“The creative Industry presents itself as one of the potential areas to hinge future efforts at sustainable development,” it stated.

T&T’s creative industry comprises eight sub-sectors including dance and theatre, heritage, literature and publishing, festivals including Carnival and broadcasting.

MusicTT, FilmTT and FashionTT are all subsidiaries of CreativeTT.

According to a study undertaken by the Ministry of Trade, the Music Industry is estimated to generate $169 million annually and employs some 5,600 people.

“The Music Industry of T&T is ever-evolving and it is now ripe for dynamic, purposeful and sustainable plugs in the right direction. While there is still a mindset that local music consists only native genres (calypso, soca, rapso, chutney, pan music and the like), there is now a new, persistent paradigm: local music can be a song of any genre, once it is birthed in the heart and mind of a Trinbagonian.

As such, the emergence of strong footholds in local pop, jazz, hip hop, RnB and other globally trending genres has revolutionised the horizon T&T’s Music Industry now looks toward,” the Trade Ministry stated.

In the last study undertaken by the Ministry of Trade and Industry in 2014, the local Fashion Industry consisted of an estimated 210 registered companies that employed over 1,465 people and generated more than $266 million.

Based on this data the Ministry estimated that the Fashion industry alone can essentially attract an estimated $1 billion in five years.

“T&T has long been recognised as a leader in the fashion industry in the Caribbean. This reputation is built on a tradition that includes skilled tailors, seamstresses and pattern-makers although much of these earlier successes remain undocumented,” the Trade Ministry stated.

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During the period 1960-1985 there was a vibrant garment industry in T&T. In 1978, 130 garment-manufacturing firms were registered with 7,000 people being employed in the sector. Simultaneously, the economy experienced a burgeoning fashion industry, with a range of successful local fashion designers emerging in the 1980’s and 1990’s,” it stated.

Last year the local film industry attracted $16 million in economic activity with 22 productions being filmed on our shores.

“Once this trend remains it can easily be a significant contributor to the economy bringing in valuable foreign exchange and fostering exposure for future growth. For example, 2 major productions can contribute up to $50 million to the economy,” CreativeTT stated.

According to the Ministry of Trade this country’s Film Industry emerged in the late 1950s and by the late 1970s there was a small amount of local productions, which included both feature films and television programmes.

It added that T&T boasts of unique country features and an ideal geographic location possessing substantial resources for the production of feature films such as a variety of contrasting location sites all within close proximity to one another as well as experienced production crews.

“As a result of these resources, over a period of almost sixty years a number of international feature films have been shot on location in T&Tobago in spite of other more competitive locations in the Caribbean Region. Improvements in technology specifically the advent of low cost high definition video cameras in the 21st Century, has led to the production of several local feature films in Trinidad and Tobago,” the Trade Ministry stated.

CreativeTT said building capacity is critical in promoting the creative industry and exposing our local talent to international standards and the cross fertilisation of subject matter with worldwide experts.

The creative industry has not been spared the ravages of COVID-19, but said the situation has also opened up new opportunities.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has revolutionised global trends and practices and we too have not escaped these cataclysmic changes,” CreativeTT stated.

“The music industry is coping with the inability of acts to tour at present which is already having a major negative impact on many of our soca artists. At the same time, this presents an opportunity to explore new technologies and refocus on the recording and streaming of music,” it stated.

According to Creative TT: “With the current border closure and limit to the number of persons who can gather, the film industry is experiencing a shortfall in international production targets and by extension has had an adverse impact on local production stakeholders. This can be overcome by an up-tick in local productions which encourage a wider cross-section of local collaborators as our restrictions are relaxed. We can also take this opportunity to market FilmTT’s rebate program which gives incentives to production companies, encouraging them to film on our shores.”

“The fashion industry has also been impacted with the closure of retail stores and restricted access to customers, however the closure of borders provides a great opportunity for local designers to fill in the gap of the local and regional demands, now that air travel and international commerce is limited. E-commerce, delivery of goods and a campaign to support local designers can be the stitch that binds the local fashion industry, while we continue to train and develop our up and coming designers,” it stated.

This is a time to build relationships says CreativeTT .

“It is a time for recalibration and strategic partnering to build robust relationships within the industry. There are also opportunities to attract new investment in the creative sector, utilising the latest technology and a move to more efficient ways of conduction training sessions, and programs by moving to online platforms for webinars, training sessions,” CreativeTT stated.