The Cultural and Creative Industries has always been a major part of brand Jamaica. Creatives also play a major role in the tourism sector. However, this group is under-researched and the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC) is working feverishly to provide for the sector the support and push it needs to thrive in the way it has the capacity to.
According to UNESCO, Jamaica’s cultural and creative industries’ (CCIs) are estimated to contribute 5.2% of the country’s GDP, generating revenues of JMD $2.2 billion annually, and accounting for 3% of total employment. The JBDC has always been a big supporter of this industry through its Things Jamaican™ stores which are outfitted with authentic Jamaican-made products from clients. More recently, the agency has spearheaded major initiatives towards the development of CCIs. Entrepreneur Weekly sheds the spotlight on the CCIs with 4 tips that can help the creative entrepreneur.
1. Develop Your Niche
The creative space is vast as the human mind can conjure up the most innovative and artistic ideas. It is important for creative entrepreneurs to develop unique ideas that allow their work to stand out among the many shining stars already existing in the space. This will take some thought and trial and error but developing your uniqueness will always have the potential for you to bring value to the market.
It is important to narrow down your area of focus and this tip is in no way to limit a creative’s effort. However, as an entrepreneur it is important to realise that every market has the capacity for competitiveness. Pay keen attention to problems you have observed and amp up your product or service to both fill a need as well provide creative inspiration to your client.
2. Learn Intellectual Property (IP)
The reality is that Intellectual Property is the base of the creative industries as the work you produce is your prized possession. It is incredibly vital to safeguard your work and ensure you are not robbed of what you produce. The issue of IP is important as it is both about the defense and protection of your work as well as it is about learning ways to capitalise and commercialise your creativity. Creative entrepreneurs must note the avenues through which they can leverage their artistry through royalties, sales and licensing.
Considering how integral IP is to creative entrepreneurship, individuals must give their time to learning more. There are local agencies and entities such as Jamaica Intellectual Property Office (JIPO) and the Jamaica Association of Composers Authors and Publishers. (JACAAP) that are informational services provided to help individuals within the cultural and creative industries to become informed, protected and promoted.
3. Find Your Community
In the realm of entrepreneurship, destructive competition and selfishness are unfortunately part of some arenas. The creative space is no different as creative theft is a real thing. However, this should not dissuade a creative entrepreneur from seeking out a group of people that have similar vision and mindset to pursue this journey with. The importance of having a network as well as a support system can never be understated. For a sector that contributes to Jamaica so vastly, individuals banding together for the betterment of the industry can go a far way in moving it forward.
4. Get Creative with Funding & Marketing
Individuals within this particular industry often struggle with finding resources and funding. There are ways to get funding for your creative dreams but it may call for delayed gratification and putting yourself out of your comfort zone. Sometimes it will call for staying in your traditional job a bit longer to raise the capital needed to branch out. This is a practical step that creative entrepreneurs can make. Stay with your day job while pursuing your craft on the side. It is also good to get yourself out there, and there are myriads of craft markets, pop-up shows that are hosted throughout the year.
Creative entrepreneurs can use their social media platforms for promotion of their work, which calls for limited input but can stand to reap great rewards in financing their passion. Also consider the viability of various investment options and explore the investment products available in the market.
Education is key in pursuing entrepreneurial efforts within the cultural and creative industries. This is not to say without formal education in business, that a creative entrepreneur cannot thrive, instead it is having a teachable mindset and hunger for knowledge and exposure.
JBDC’s Dance with Creatives
The JBDC’s Small Business Expo & Conference held in May 2019 under the theme ‘Monetising the Orange Economy: The Future is Creative’, was an unforgettable and impactful one. Creatives descended on the Jamaica Pegasus as the agency led the charge for their development.
The JBDC subsequently partnered with the British Council to conduct a historic Mapping of the Jamaica Cultural and Creative Industries in 2020 with a survey including over 550 CCI stakeholders from across the country. A lack of business skills was identified as a barrier to growth and sustainability.
In 2021, the project, “Evaluation of Jamaica’s Cultural and Creative Industry through economic impact studies and the National Statistics System (JAM NSS CCI)” was among only 6 globally approved for funding by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). The project will identify recommendations and strategies for the development of key sectors, among other things.
The ‘JBDC IN CONCERT’ discussion series which has examined challenges with financing, digitisation and intellectual property in robust discussions with industry players, will return at the end of May. Stay tuned for details.