It is true to some extent that we in the creative sector, entrepreneurs or otherwise, tend to focus a lot of our time on the creative side of our projects/ventures and less so on the business side. However, both are necessary and need each other to survive, like “cou cou need flying fish” although in recent times the latter has been proving to be elusive.
When I think about this and analyze the four key areas which are, Creativity, Entrepreneurship, Business & Export and which follow each other in natural sequence, the thing that springs to mind are aspects of Michael Porter’s Value Chain. The sequence Porter used is Inbound Logistics, Operations, Out Bound Logistics, Sales & Marketing and Servicing. Porter claims and it is commonly accepted that the further along the chain you go, more value is added and therein lies the corresponding benefits. So if we juxtapose these two views, it should make it clearer for the creative entrepreneur to see where the maximum benefits of their labours lie. (see diagram 1)
Based on Porter’s model and the direct correlation between the cultural industries, it would suggest that the export of our cultural products and continuing to service those export markets is where the true value exist. With a specific focus on the performing Arts, I would like to expand on this area.
For several years we have focused on the traditional markets like Trinidad & Tobago and the diasporic markets in the United States and UK. By no means am I belittling the achievement of accessing and sustain these markets and kudos to the pioneers involved in the development of those initiatives. However, I am suggesting that at this juncture, we need to look beyond these traditional markets and chart a new path for Barbadian/Caribbean culture. For the purpose of this article, let us focus on Europe. Barbados currently has an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union which allows us to export our goods and services to that region. So the question is, how do we in the creative/cultural industries take advantage of this agreement?
During the summer months, there are a host of festivals all across Europe, ranging from music & jazz to film to food & wine and dance/salsa etc. Having done my own personal study tour and visiting a few of these festivals, I am absolutely convinced that the Barbadian culture I know and love would more than tantalize the cultural pallets of those markets. Also having experienced and understanding the relative ease of travel on the European continent, I am positive that this is a viable and accessible market for our cultural practitioners. This approach is in no way anything new, American performing Artiste have been accessing these markets for years. Many of the emerging artist who are now building a name for themselves usually finance their Trans-Atlantic trip to get on to the continent, making them more accessible to the various festival promoters. From this starting point they usually skip from festival to festival, picking up the odd club gigs in between.
With the correct guidance, awareness and institutional support, we can break into those EU markets as well as others that exist in different regions and share our wonderful culture with the world while reaping the maximum benefits of our creative efforts.