Cultural Heritage and Cultural and Creative Industries senior level experts, artists and practitioners from eight of the seventeen countries targeted by the Transcultura Programme participated in the first meeting of the Caribbean Experts’ Voice initiative. Transcultura is a cooperation programme funded by the European Union and implemented by UNESCO, aiming to deepen integration within the Caribbean region through culture.
It was the initial of a series of virtual meetings that will gather relevant information and recommendations on Cultural Heritage and Cultural and Creative Industries training areas identified as most needed by culture professionals, young artists and entrepreneurs in the Caribbean.
The event is the result of a joint endeavour between the UNESCO Regional Office for Culture in Latin America and the Caribbean, the UNESCO Cluster Office for the Caribbean and the University of the West Indies.
Since this first meeting on September 30, the 26 participating experts will accompany and support the implementation of the capacity building programme to be offered by the Regional Cultural Training Hub established in Cuba and linked to relevant Caribbean institutions such as the University of the West Indies.
During the discussions, participants supported training options relevant to the current international context of Creative and Cultural Industries and focused on the wide-ranging characteristics of Caribbean cultures.
Some of the participants underscored the difficult conditions in which many persons in the Caribbean CCI sector operate, often with a low educational background and precarious livelihoods.
This reality makes it necessary to develop, along with academic training, the entrepreneurship of creative individuals by promoting a mind shift and business models that can turn their art into a profitable undertaking. Digital marketing, knowledge of financing variants, strategies for insertion in the international market, the gender dimension and communication skills are needed to know how to sell, position, brand, and translate their creative output into concepts that specific niches understand, experts pointed out. As they called it, this creativity literacy would be one of the core outcomes of Transcultura’s capacity-building component and is key to achieving sustainability.
They insisted on the importance of linking training options to young people’s interests and needs. Topics such as video editing and animation were among the options mentioned.
Participants stressed the need to generate a regional platform that works as an integrated information system to provide visibility to Caribbean artists and CCI sector activities. In addition, they insisted on the need to create a mechanism to discover and promote regional artistic talents, all with an ecosystem approach to integrational training activities.
The existing online Caribbean training projects and the University of West Indies’ experience in this area will enhance efforts to make the capacity-building offer accessible from digital platforms. When a pandemic has practically cancelled mobility among countries, this becomes a critical issue for Transcultura.
The Caribbean experts’ inputs provide a striking insight into the means to tackle not only CCI training needs and priorities but also their reflections on the relationship between training and CCIs in the new context.
Jacqueline Laguardia Martinez, Lecturer at the Institute of International Relations of the University of the West Indies, moderated the noteworthy discussion. Saadia Beatriz Sanchez Vegas, Director of the UNESCO Cluster Office in Jamaica, delivered the opening remarks, and Katherine Muller-Marin, Director of the Havana Office, closed the event with a message thanking all experts.
According to participants, the Transcultura Programme has come at the right time, contributing to strengthen alliances between creators, producers and cultural institutions, at a national, regional and international level, to join forces and face the new conditions imposed by COVID-19.
The four-year Programme, launched on 1 January 2020, is a UNESCO-European Union joint initiative implemented by the UNESCO Regional Office for Culture in Latin America and the Caribbean with the support of the UNESCO Cluster Office in Jamaica and the EU offices in the region. It will reach 17 Caribbean countries during its implementation period, the Member States of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the Caribbean Forum (CARIFORUM) and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).