NCF-CDB partnership a good fit
Barbados’ National Cultural Foundation (NCF) has lauded its relationship with the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), noting the critical importance of development financing the two entities have provided to micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) operating in the cultural industries space.
Andre Hoyte, Senior Business Development Officer at the NCF and the Barbados Cultural Industries Development Authority, commended CDB for its financing for projects in which the NCF was a strategic partner.
“We can’t put a value to the relationship between the NFC and the CDB. We really need agencies and institutions like the CDB and its Cultural and Creative Industries Innovation (CIIF) Fund to help us deliver on the mandate to support creatives and MSMEs,” Hoyte commented.
The cultural expert, who has worked with practitioners for more than a decade, said the funding provided by the regional institution, has been instrumental in assisting the NCF and similar regional institutions access resources abroad, including financial, academic, and technical assistance for their constituents.
He remarked: “It is also crucial to ensure that we have that kind of financial support. We know that despite the significant amount of revenue that the creative industries generate, often times, the sector is the least able to access financing and investment, particularly in developing economies like ours.”
Furthermore, activity early in the value chain for the creative sector faces great challenges accessing support financing, noted Hoyte. He pointed to the processes and skills needed to produce films, gaming products, and even simple items such as basketry and wellness products, as examples.
“Development financing is necessary to improve the quality of cultural and creative products, lift the skills of the producers, and enhance the way the supply chain functions to keep the sector afloat and thriving,” he offered.
Hoyte, who supervises the operations of the NCF’s Business Development Department which identifies, develops and supports commercial and business opportunities for the sector, also highlighted the devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, the NCF executive observed the pandemic’s role in propelling creatives into the digital space in a way that might not have occurred or at the pace at which it happened.
“The NCF, our creative industry practitioners, and MSMEs in the sector really pivoted during the pandemic. . . . We discovered when COVID first hit, many of our practitioners did not have digital content or the means of producing same and during this period of [lockdowns and restrictions on movement] digital content was the survival tool.”
Over the past two years of the pandemic, Hoyte said the NCF worked closely with CDB’s MSME Unit on the CIIF Creative Talk#5, a stakeholder forum held in June 2020 that began to examine the way forward for festivals and carnivals in the Caribbean amid the imposition of COVID-19 mitigation measures.
The recently-approved Festival Protocols Consultancy, emerged from stakeholder feedback from the forum about the impact of the COVID-19 restrictions.
Malene Joseph, Consulting Project Coordinator with CIIF explained: “This is a research consultancy, and the output is expected to be one festival protocols toolkit addressing safety and sustainability best-practices for regional festivals in the context of pandemics and natural disasters affecting the Region.”
She noted the consultancy was recently launched and includes stakeholder consultations, and intersections with other festivals sub-sector research projects and data. From the consultancy, final outputs are expected to be produced by end of May 2022.