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LETTERS: Creative industry key to delivery of Big Four agenda

LETTERS: Creative industry key to delivery of Big Four agenda

Musician Rufftone performs at an event last December. PHOTO | ALEX NJERU

There is a growing interest in Kenya, and the world over, that creative industries are a main ingredient to the success of a sustainable financial and economic development. If well harnessed, this industry may prove pertinent to realisation of the Big Four agenda. How then should we embrace arts, and how can the stakeholders in the financial market and policymakers come together and achieve this?We can define creative industry as economic activities that bear symbolic value to the country, or the society. Think of fine arts, music, acting or craft such as jewellery, fashion or publishing. Further, think of creative in terms of software designs, graphic design, or anything of intrinsic value that can be moulded using Internet.Recently, UNESCO has come up with guidelines on how to measure and compile statistics about the economic contribution of the creative industries.The creative economy places an emphasis on creativity and presenting it as the engine of innovation, technological change and as a comparative advantage in business development.In the UK, creative industries are termed as “those industries that have their origin in individual creativity, skill and talent which have a potential for job and wealth creation through the generation and exploitation of intellectual property”. In recent years concepts such as content industries and copyright industries have also been introduced including slightly different definitions and disciplines.What is the role and place of creative industries in Kenya’s development strategies? Unfortunately, at the moment we lack the environment or regulatory frameworks needed to support dynamic creative sectors.Gladly, various national sustainable development programmes around the world include creativity as a major area of intervention. We need specific strategies or dedicated units to better address the role of creative industries in sustainable development.

Former UNESCO director general Irina Bokova said in Cultural Times that as the most rapidly growing sectors worldwide, creative industry influences income generation, job creation and export earnings. It can forge a better future for many countries around the globe.“Capitalising $2,250 billion and nearly three million-jobs worldwide, the cultural and creative industries are major drivers of the economies of developed as well as developing countries,” she said.To unlock potential in the creative industry, the government should promote overall creativity of societies, affirming distinctive identities of different communities improve quality of life and provide resources that will sustain creativity.We should invest in public policies that support the diverse forms of creativity as well as to address new challenges posed by digitisation.Culture Times surveyed 11 sectors in five global regions — North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, Africa and Latin America and Caribbean. The survey, conducted by EY, found out that culture and creative industries grossed $1.5 billion.Creative activities contribute significantly to youth employment and women. In Europe, the sector employed more people aged 15-29 than any other sector. Official UK statistics showed that women accounted for more than 50 per cent of people employed in the music industry.Small businesses or individuals drive creative industry, which leads to agile and innovative employers. Fifty-three per cent of Canadian gaming developers say they are independent operators, while in the US, an artist is 3.5 times more likely to be self-employed than any other worker.It is not late for Kenya to begin to focus on creative industries as potential contributors to economic growth and job creation. This is because the arts, culture and heritage sectors can tremendously contribute to the growth and development of our economy.It is time for national government, counties, financial institutions, the public and private sector to join hands and support the arts as they play a huge role in the economy.

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