In the Vision 2030 blueprint, one of the flagship projects envisaged is the “International Centre for Arts and Culture” whose mandate will be to develop the youth potential and nurture talent to empower the youth economically. This centre targets sportsmen, filmmakers, performers and other creatives. That, in my idea is an excellent idea, however the project is still on paper and there seems to be little progress.
Kenya Copyright Board reckons that the creative industry has the potential to contribute Ksh. 70 billion to the national economy annually. Potential – needs some action to become reality.
How about some real hard numbers. They don’t lie, do they?
Nollywood raked approximately 3.4% of Nigeria’s GDP in 2013 and is now the second largest employer after Agriculture. Creative Industries are booming across Africa, the content in your TV’s proves it. It feels like an African Renaissance in the arts.
Creative industry is at last a proper employer, Pro Photographers can earn a decent living, performing artists quote 6 figures per show and comedians perform at mainstream corporate gigs.
Further afield, jobs in the creative industry in the UK grew 8.6% whereas overall job growth was 0.7% . The biggest employers were publishing, software services, fashion, product and graphic design, film, TV, radio and advertising.
Back home, it is evident that our creative economy has enormous potential and to unlock this further, we need to create appreciation for creativity in all levels and create places where creativity can flourish from the grassroots.
In the current devolved structure, the county governments can foster local creative industries especially by playing an enabling role. Galleries , performance halls, theatres can become hubs of creative industry at the county level. Giving rise to local creative based SME’s. One good example is Machakos People’s Park.
Our cities can become active participants in the global “Creative Cities” movement to facilitate knowledge transfer from cities that have developed creative industries. Once, we have a creative network in Bomet or Isiolo then expect jobs at the grassroots level.
Policy measures at the national and regional level will foster the creative economy. Greater access to funding, improving the legal frameworks, incentives and tax breaks can all be catalysts for a booming creative industry that creates jobs. These activities need a deliberate framework through which creativity translates into economic value.
Just like Nigeria is doing with its film industry, we can become an exporter of cultural goods and services. We need to take a lead role in developing the creative economy agenda.
Some of the things we can do to improve the creative economy at the grassroots and create jobs include the below. Hopefully, these activities will create creative clusters that will result in the development of a real creative economy.
We need to enable economic activity and the first (and easiest) to foster is trade. By having an art and crafts market even once a week, we give creatives a place where they can trade and create jobs.
Pageants and fashion shows are an excellent opportunity to foster economic activity at the grassroots. These showcase events will lead to the discovery of new talent. opportunities for bigger business and possibly a national audience.
We already have cultural festivals planned this year in Kenya. Recently, Mombasa held a 3 day culture festival where various facets of culture were celebrated. These can be important avenues where new talent can breakout and the creative side of our culture highlighted.
The bringing of performance artists together for an event or a series of events can be the beginning or the strengthening of a creative culture in a region It would require the participation of the public, private, and community to establish the right mix.
We hope that our leadership recognizes that a little investment in the arts can go a long way towards establishing an economically vibrant creative industry. It doesn’t have to start in a big way, the important thing is to start and get moving.
UK’s creative industries beat employment downturn
UNESCO Creative Economy Report 2013