Ink and Vision…the Reboot!

The idea for the Ink and Vision Ltd. reboot began with four objectives:

  1. Bringing ideas, people, resources, systems and markets together within the Global South and to facilitate linkages for creative projects produced by independent creatives in the Global South.
  2. Providing a variety of business services for independent creatives; including accounting, business advice, legal services and research.
  3. Creating a creative community of independent creatives from which specialist teams are curated to provide bespoke creative services for businesses.
  4. Providing professional engagement, empowerment and training for young creative administrators; preparing them for the world of work through paid internships; 

BACKGROUND

Essentially Ink and Vision began as an audiovisual content production and communication company, Dr. Deborah Hickling Gordon, founder of I+V tells her story:

“I began to grow interested in the CCI in the early 2000s. The creative scene was changing. All of my colleagues were great creatives but few had administrative training. I had started to produce television content as an independent producer and created a 26 episode series of educational dramas called ‘A-Graders’ for the Jamaican television market”. 

From the local market, Dr. Hickling Gordon was sought out to bring to air the University of the West Indies regional channel. “In 2016 I got a contract to do the startup production for UWI TV. We assembled a crack team who got together and began creating and distributing up to 40 hours of content per week to the Caribbean region”.

Our next challenge was producing segments for Sesame Street and I began to consult on new programming projects through I+V.

We also did the start up recruiting for talent for “The Edge”, a brand new radio station entering the lifestyle radio space.

Dr. Deborah Hickling Gordon revealed that, “while producing audiovisual content I was working with many people like myself who had recently become independent creative professionals as the audiovisual sector became more liberalized. They would ask me questions like “how should I calculate my fees?”, or “what are my rights?”, or “how can I find a …….(any creative people and products)”. She says she would offer them advice and began to collect payments for her friends who had trouble collecting fees from people they worked for; write their bios and create business forms for them, but it was never formally a business. “I was mostly doing favors for friends because I had those skills and contacts. Before I became a TV producer I had been to business school and had also been an administrator and PR manager for the government, so I began to use those skills to develop processes to help them”.  

Capacity building and facilitation became Deborah’s new areas of interest. “My new objective was to build an army of creatives”, to develop efficient creative administrators and systems and to link them across the Global South, which we have now begun.

In 2019, she was selected to sit on the UNESCO Expert Facility on Cultural Media Diversity; a global cultural industries body that joins cultural policy professionals from countries of the world, particularly those in the Global South. This provided the opportunity to begin to link like minded people with creative and cultural projects globally.

“Then the Pandemic hit and slowed us down. But it also helped us to focus on solidifying the reboot.  Now that we have tried and tested the model, we are rebooting…” Dr. Hickling Gordon said. She joined the Cultural Studies team at the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus in the Institute of Caribbean Studies and began to coordinate the BA degrees, one in Cultural and Creative Industries and another in Entertainment and Cultural Enterprise Management. There she found that there were many young creatives who requires post-degree training and assistance in entering the world of work. She assembled a team of interns and began to train them in different areas.

Now, after two years of preparation, though Ink and Vision Limited, the team has:

  1. Established a network of professionals across the Global South eager to begin the process of working together to develop creative and cultural projects.
  2. Established a team of interns and new graduates getting hands-on experience, training and professional development in creative industries administration, advocacy and research.
  3. Developed a number of business packages  for independent creatives to help them to increase their efficiency
  4. Completed a number of bespoke creative projects for corporate and other clients by finding the right creatives to form the perfect teams to design and execute specific creative projects.

The team is now ready to present to the world, Ink and Vision Ltd – creative facilitators. We bring together ideas, people, resources, systems, processes and markets to make creative magic in the Global South!

The Ink and Vision Team
contact@ink.vision

THIS IS HOW WE…: THE NEO-COLONIALIZATION OF TELEVISION BROADCASTING IN THE CARIBBEAN

Rambling thoughts for a possible documentary. Watch this space (ooooh the irony lol). Somtimes you just gotta get bex and talk the truth!

revo tele

In about 2001, as an MPhil student, I went to my first ever academic conference in the UK – Lancaster or Lancashire I think but it was definitely the Motherland. The conference was on Broadcasting Histories. Yep there is a whole academic specialty that deals with Broadcasting Histories…and its fascinating! Well a people without knowledge of it’s history…. you know the rest!

The early production of films in Jamaica, (though film production was considered differently to television broadcasting then) was governed by legislation, designed in the 1940s, to protect ex pats coming, landing on our shores like Columbus (ooooh more irony) to Jamaica to enable them to exploit the rich resources and aesthetic of Jamaica – to shoot sun, sea and other such stuff. (I love the word ‘exploit’ when used in current times in association with commercial endeavor, it even has a positive connotation!)

When JBC (The Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation… yeah I have to spell it out, some people don’t know… its true), the single television station in Ja for decades, was privatized in the 1990s, the current youthful crop of undergrads were babies. So they have no idea about our TV history as context. They just turn on to 1000 channels in live and living colour…just like that… magic! They have no idea that broadcasting, television mainly, is one of those cultural/creative endeavors that came to the Caribbean through technical initiatives of the UK and Canada, as a part of a (de)colonizing (arguable) and ‘civilizing’ mission in the early 20th century. How on earth would they know that our founding father, NWM mainly, sought to use it as a tool of identity formation in his quest for independence…? Aint nobody making documentaries anymore! With all our Rising Stars in TV, more (trained and educated) TV professionals than ever before, my goodness, where’s the output?

Long story short, through the golden years of production to political tugs of war, liberalization, privatization, decentralization, commercialization, globalization with its technical advancements and convergence, we are now Flowing into a whole new ball game…. and since the notion of reparations and the indignation of slavery is so popular these days….add that to the pipe and puff on it a little.. and form your own conclusions. If you think about it, ask yourself the question, are we building a whole different kind of prison? And guess who the inmates are….? if your TV or whatever small or large screen you using these days was a mirror, you would see yourself in prison stripes – which is of course the new black! Power to the…..? It’s like the Lord of the Ring….who possesses the fibrous ring?

Imagine a digital plantation populated by consumers. There’s Backra and the big stick. He’s profiting from your labour…building empires and advanced industrial societies through repatriated profits, bigger and better; sometimes utilizing admittedly unethical corporate constructs (ask HBO) and…. just told you to get over it…move on and pay for the new packages (I just bought one, what choice do I have really?) And he’s clear he ain’t paying you back either for what you lost, or for what you paid! Ok, he provides us with jobs and does some great community work…lets be honest. But lets be clear, there’s no reparatory justice to be had round here!

Time come for the critical analysis, the ‘converged’ and holistic examination of telecoms/information/ICT/Culture policy in the context of a Caribbean Creative Economy… to include production, broadcast, distribution, digital platforms, media ownership and this sexy new area of Animation et al…

So, yes, perhaps this is worthy of a documentary! But where on earth would I air it? How would I make a return on my investment? Ain’t no viable economic model for creating content and broadcast products round here! I would have to pay for both production and airtime on our local stations…cant afford that! And FLOW has no more space for local channels, despite removing so many others. Maybe I will air it on the FLOW channel itself, because that’s where content is being directed. You think the gatekeepers will consider it? Maybe the new umbrella organizations will collectively bargain with the bigger players for better deals…private sector to private sector… Is this all a private sector matter or is there space for policy and regulation in these considerations? I know, I could go to the public service broadcasters and air it on PBCJ, which you would think would be striking visionary broadcast/production deals with independent producers right? That’s worthy of consideration…..or CTV, or the education channel all these public service broadcasting stations (on cable….how irony sweet so?) with their random footprints…. and even more random broadcast concepts…. hmmm lots of options… and even more questions. Yeah, making the documentary might be worth considering!

Oh, and since they now control my phone and my internet as well as my television; if the revolution is to be streamed instead of televised then hmmm….? Ok I wont say it, much less think it! Mek mi shut mi mout. Enough said. mek mi ‘occupy’ my likkle space and not ‘spring’ beyond my place.

If you looking for a televised revolution…. well, its likely to be on one of the channels our service provider had to remove with the rest of the ‘good stuff’. Ooops… It might be on the internet – but our consumption practices make us bad customers – slap on the wrist for the consumer! After all, nobody faces consequences except the consumer! There is a theory that our CCIs often have connections to unethical practices and cultures…but who would have thought that the leaders in that regard, actually wear suits and button up shirts and sexy shift dresses in their cool-casual-corporate-cultures? Oooh alliteration! Well I leave you with the 8 C’s of the Creative economy – creativity, culture, convergence, consumption, conduits, commercialization, content and copyright (IP). How cool would it be if we all sat around a table to craft a vision so that we can cee where we are going….so that the ideas, the solutions… and the prosperity… would just flow!

Think of what this market would look like with a thriving production sector feeding a thriving broadcast sector… even in this neo-liberal space there is enough to go around….

Watch this space as we put the jigsaw pieces together… Light at the end of the tunnel or corner dark?

Dr. Deborah Hickling is a Creative and Cultural Economy Development Specialist, with an interest in policy development for developing countries, and creative work. The views expressed here are her own and are not representative of the positions of any other person, institution or organization.

Tell The Stories

Phew, just finding a moment…but the following was an address I delivered to the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission’s Jamaica Creative Writing Awards Ceremony in my capacity of Chairman of the Inter-ministerial Technical Working Croup on Cultural and Creative Industries.
Deborah and Delroy Gordon

Deb and Dorrette Thaxter
Salutations:

Good Evening,

I was truly honoured to have received the invitation to share with you at this the Jamaica Creative Writing Awards Ceremony. Joining you this evening is significant for me personally and professionally, as a student of literature.

My interest in reading and writing stories of one kind or another – radio and television scripts and programmes, articles, speeches – began very early in my life and has followed me through all my professional endeavours. My mother was a also writer, also across genres. She entered this competition a couple of times, always speaking of the high standards it upheld.

I want to begin my sharing with you tonight, by telling you a story of four different women who lived between the end of the 19th and the early 20th centuries right here in Jamaica. The four women – Rose, Rosalyn, Ann-Matilda, and a woman we know simply only as Aunt Dawta, never met each other, but all contributed to the lives of a woman who always dreamed of changing the world for the better.

The first woman, Rose Myers, spent her evenings in the cool Hatfield Hills in Central Jamaica, sweeping leather cuttings from her porch. One sunny afternoon, while doing her chores, the island’s governor, passing though her district sent his footman up the hill to their home to fetch her husband, a master bootmaker. The footman’s message was that the governor was waiting at the bottom of the hill for her husband to measure him-up for a pair of finely crafted boots.

The Tradesman summarily dismissed the Footman with a message to the Governor that business was conducted in his workshop at the top of the hill, so if said Governor wished a pair of boots to be made there, he would need to come up the hill to be measured. Ms. Rose spent that afternoon entertaining the governor and keeping her surly husband in check.

Not far away, lived the second woman, Ms. Dawta. She lived on the bank of a river, a magical stream in which the borders of the parishes of St. Ann and Clarendon and Manchester intersected, right in the middle. Ms Dawta’s skin was velvety black with a bluish hue. She was a land owner and entrepreneur, a daughter of free coloureds. She sat on the wooden veranda, watching the horses on her family’s race course, prodding the tobacco into her pipe and planning the community event for that evening.

Meanwhile, in the Hamlet of Chalky Hill on the other side of St. Ann, another woman, Rosalyn, prepared to head to Kingston to find a job. Excited by the prospects, Rosalyn did not know that her destiny would send her to walk to work every day, where she toiled through the night-and-day cleaning offices to be able to, eventually buy herself a home and experience the pride of ownership of a ‘piece of the rock’ – and achieve her life’s dream.

She also didn’t know that small room she rented in the community of Rollington Town, was just a few streets away from a well-appointed neighbourhood, where the fourth woman, Ann Matilda, raised her only daughter amidst the finery of life, to be as gentile as a black woman could in those colonial times; complete with a fine education, training in classical violin and piano in a studio for ladies in Bristol, no less. Ann Matilda paid for this lifestyle by sewing and selling fine linen men’s shirts in Kingston’s market, later buying passage to Panama to sell more shirts, and convert her proceeds to gold….and of course marrying a distinguished gentleman, a senior civil servant who snatched her away from the vulgarity of retail commerce to become a lady and a midwife to immigrant chinese mothers and babies, upstairs their distinguished home.

These four dynamic yet different were my great-grandmothers. Although they never met, their singular lives come together to form my heritage and are an important part of my story. I came to know them through the stories about them passed through the ages.

I began with a story of my ancestors not only to demonstrate the importance and power of our personal narratives in the tapestry of national life, but also to pay homage, as our people have for centuries, a tradition that precedes, or should precede all our activities. I researched the stories of these forebears when I taught a course in scriptwriting at UTECH a few years ago. I gave the assignment to my students to use ‘Jamaica 50’ as a central motif, to interview a grandparent or relative of that age-group and write a script in a chosen medium to tell that story. The objective was to demonstrate to them that their tales, the stories of our forebears remind us of where we come from and what we stand for – and make for remarkable stories. I decided to do the exercise too.

‘Bawling spwile’ when it came to presentation day. These youngsters in their late teens and early twenties learned so much about themselves though their own stories, their lives were changed – they said; their minds were changed – they said – all because of a story.

Ladies and gentlemen, our lives are simply a combination of stories strung together.

Through participation in this competition, you have shown that not only do you have a story… but you have the talent and skill to tell it well. We, in this room, therefore have the ability and the potential to change generations, and in so doing, positively impact the growth and development of our nation.

Speaking at JCDC 2015 2
At a conference I attended recently, a speaker addressed the importance of growth. Growth, he told us, occurs when our Gross Domestic Product increases exponentially. He went on to explain that our GDP is “an aggregate measure of production equal to the sum of the gross value added of all resident, institutional units engaged in production (plus any taxes, and minus any subsidies, on products not included in the value of their outputs).”

I must admit that my eyes glazed over.… ….but I thought some more about this illusive thing we call growth….that magical number; those statistics that all of government, our people, our nation, and developing nations like ours try to achieve – assiduously making growth plans and strategies, crunching numbers and applying formulae. I thought about the equation provided by the speaker and concluded that the common denominator for ‘growth’ anywhere and everywhere is the output of human effort. Growth is the aggregate outcome of Human effort, stimulated by empowerment, engagement and inspiration.

Forgive my simplicity, but it is human effort that is the core factor at the basis of the investment, government spending, productivity etc that are elements of the formula required to stimulate growth. This is why our cultural and creative industries are central to growth – in more ways than none.In coming to you today, I thought of placing emphasis on the creative economy, stating the obvious, linking your stories and growth. I thought I might tell you that your stories are excellent products and require packaging, marketing and distribution to the world.

I might mention that writing skills are important services and that learning specialist skills is also critical to transform your stories into cartoons, comics, documentaries, feature films, books, e-books, dramas and magazines.

I could also tell you about the multiplier effect and value chains; and emphasise the need to find ways to sell your stories so that:
• actors and actresses can present the characters you dreamed-up in films
• animators can add value to your stories by literally bringing the characters to life
• publishers can make distribution deals and earn for you and them, with every new edition published,
• the potential exists for millions and millions of dollars to be made
• the potential exists for baskets and baskets of rights to be negotiated regarding your intellectual property in this process.

I could have emphasised that the economic value on a long, long chain begins with your story. If I were talking to about your place within the Creative Economy, I would tell you that unfortunately, just writing stories is not enough if there is no means to distribute them.
This as you know, requires process and structure. We know that while cultural and creative activities have, for many years, contributed to our economy and other elements of life, formally and informally; it has always been felt that more could be done to bring these areas into the mainstream.

If I were a wily policy maker, I would slip in that the government is making efforts to address this – to provide an enabling environment for our creatives. This has led to the Prime Minister’s formulation of the National Cultural and Creative Industries Commission.

We have, all of us across ministries departments and agencies, been doing the quiet, behind-the-scenes work, beyond the cameras glare that is required to create a policy framework and governance structure for CCI’s. We are also looking at ways to integrate the work of the Ministries, agencies and departments of government that develop policy and deliver services to cultural and creative stakeholders.

So, I will, however, suggest to the JCDC, that they consider ensuring that a condition of entry to all their activities and competitions be that prospective competitors register on the Entertainment Register administered by the Ministry of Tourism and entertainment.

I thought of sharing with you that the move from embracing ‘traditional’ to privileging ‘non-traditional’ industries like ours requires a change of paradigm…

And that progressive nations are moving
• From ‘cultures of extractionism’ to ‘cultures of sustainability’
• Placing more emphasis on labour intensive industries like ours
• Using Equality as a driver of growth
• Focusing on productivity, and
• Moving from Consumption to Export and Global trade.

That is what the creative economy is about.

Yet, while those are important messages, and ones you as writers should be aware of, the true message I want to leave with you today, is another perspective on the role your story can play in advancing the growth and development of our country:

Your stories, the winning stories in the Jamaica Creative Writing Competition, were picked from among 400 new scripts entered in the categories of novels, essays, poetry, short-stories and plays. Yours were the best of the lot. This means that the words you wrote, the tales and verses conjured from your imagination, touched, moved and inspired the adjudicators of literature enough to single out your stellar entries. You, demonstrated, that not only can you string words, sentences and paragraphs together in narrative, poetic or scripted forms; you proved that you have the ability to inspire through your style, your turn-of-phrase, your themes, your characters, and your tales.

Your work in 2015, stands firmly up to scrutiny in similar fashion to literary entries of years gone by, by some of the most renowned literary Jamaica minds – including our Poet Laureate Professor Mervyn Morris, the great, late Dennis Scott and Trevor Rhone, Olive Senior, Hazel Campbell, Michael Reckord and Michelle Bailey. Imagine that!

But, what does that have to do with economic growth? You contribute to our economic growth and national development in two ways. The first is through the means described earlier, though the products and services that you create and can create. The second is through the provision of hope and inspiration through your own productivity. The stories you tell, whether of trial or triumph, have the potential to touch, move, inspire and change other human beings.

Your ability to empower, enable and inspire our people into action with your thoughts, words and the products of your imagination and skill, are the keys, to growth and development that you, the writers of stories have within your grasp. Those are important requirements to bring about actions and productivity of our people that will accelerate growth. You have in your grasp the ability to push-start our growth effort just by doing what you do best, inspiring your communities, your friends your family into action – one story at a time. Think of the things that have inspired you most. Often it has a great story at the basis of it. Use the skills you have to do the same for others. This is what we call ‘soft power’.Watching for the outcomes of that power is like actively looking for growth and development to occur on a daily basis. It is like watching paint dry. You can be sure that the chemical reaction is taking place but you can’t see it happening.

Yet, just as Miss Lou and her colleagues did when they travelled the hills and vales of this country in the 1930s telling stories to Jamaicans to raise their consciousness of who they are through Jamaica Welfare, you can change your country, change the world, one story at a time.
The Koreans did it too, I am told, by my colleague Tanya Davies who has studied the specific screen-writing methods used for television to change the ways in which they thought about themselves.

We can too and we have to turn to these soft power methods to accentuate the other strategies.
I was recently sent an empowering thought: “A small effort, over time, can make a big difference. Anyone can make a slight improvement, and soon those slight improvements can add up to an enormous advantage”.

****

I want to congratulate the JCDC for being a part of the cultural and creative policy equation for over 50 years. The sterling work of the JCDC since 1963, one year after our independence, cannot be quantified. My checks reveal that you at JCDC receive over 12,000 entries in the Festival activities each year. Each entry is a story of one kind or another. JCDC has therefore changed lives, one story at a time.

The JCDC has gone above and beyond through its programmes, in particular this, the Jamaica Creative Writing Competition and Exhibition in recognizing writing talent, validating that talent, showcasing and promoting writers and their original works.
Deb and Dorrette Thaxter
Ladies and gentlemen,

As the elements come together, policy and practice, let’s make a pact.
Let’s change the world one story at a time… in every format, every genre, across our nation… across the world. Let’s print them; bind them; record them, sing them, recite them, read them, have actors voice and perform them. That process begins with you. Do not stop writing them. You have a talent. Use it to bring meaning to the lives of others.
• Your stories remind us where we come from.
• Your stories show us the pathway of where we have to go.
• Your stories embolden and empower us.
• Your stories help us to grow

Stories are eternal.

The ‘made up’ stories my Mother told us have stayed with us until today. She wrote them down, and one generation later, we have republished her stories and recorded them. Now, her stories – in written and recorded form – put her grandchildren to sleep almost a decade after she has passed. Those stories and others through the ages shaped our morals, ethics, sensibilities and ideas; they taught us about the strength, entrepreneurship, resilience, and determination like that of my Great-grandmothers, are our reminders of the virtues of conciliation, honesty, integrity, peace and love. Through the process of recording our stories we learn discipline. My father, himself a prolific, published writer has always told us, “write for an hour every day”, and “It is not done until it is written down”.

Through your tales, teach values and attitudes, bring the history into the present and make it relevant, entertain the soul with fantasy, inform the mind with fact, empower with knowledge and calm the spirit with timbre.

As my mother and father encouraged me, I encourage you, our skilled writers. Use your ability to touch, move and inspire your families, communities, your nation with your stories.

I congratulate you all on your awards and urge you to keep-on writing. Tell the stories, write the books, produce prolifically.

Let us together, change the world, one story at a time.

Dr. Deborah Hickling is a Creative and Cultural Economy Development Specialist, with an interest in policy development for developing countries, and creative work. The views expressed here are her own and are not representative of the positions of any other person, institution or organization.

For Better or Worst: Globalization, Tradition and Culture: The Full Interview

It’s always great to have your ideas shared with the world. Mass Media has provided a wonderful tool for sharing, now a simple process in this age of globalization. The article in today’s Gleaner on traditions, culture and Globalization, http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20141124/news/news5.html, which resulted from a recent interview with their Daviot Kelly, succinctly put together myriad thoughts and issues. I have real respect for editors, I must tell ya! How they pull from so much material into tightly woven articles is a skill, a talent! In this Journalism Week, no less, I salute you.

However, as Globalization makes it so easy, I thought I would share the full interview to provide larger contexts of the edited content. Globalization also brought with it the era of the soundbite – even in newspapers, so here’s the full script:

Gleaner: What are some of the foreign traditions that Jamaicans have adopted and which ones have we exported?

DH: Globalization, by its very nature, has, in large part, removed barriers, borders and boundaries that existed between the countries of the world allowing for cultures and traditions to be more readily exposed and shared. In the approximately thirty years since the process of globalization was ‘named’ and came to be discussed in the ways we do now, its manifestations have evolved and have affected our ‘ways of being’. At the most basic level, globalization – and in particular a main characteristic of that process – access to technology- has caused or influenced changes in the ways in which many of our people dress, eat, think, trade and communicate.

Many examples, positive or negative, can be provided for the changes in those ‘ways of being’ as a result of adoption and adaptation of ‘traditions’ not only from our closest geographical neighbours but now from much further afield
Easy and obvious examples would be:

• The fashion trend of our young men wearing their trousers at their knees, where underwear has become outerwear;
• Some of the ways in which we have come to eat,
• The equation of ‘news’ with ‘gossip’ and conjecture in some quarters and
• Some imported ‘values and attitudes’
• The increasing prevalence of the celebration of Halloween amongst our children and the significance of Thanksgiving
• We have also adopted cultures of work.

Those are just some of the myriad examples of some of foreign traditions that some Jamaicans have adopted as a result of some of the changes caused by globalization:

We have certainly contributed or ‘exported’, as you put it a very special ‘Jamaicaness’. I have a teenage cousin, a young man who was born in Australia and lived there all his life. He came to Jamaica for the first time last year. His fascination with Usain Bolt and things Jamaican struck me as remarkable. Of course he is impressed with Usain’s athletic prowess, but his fascination went well beyond that. He was fascinated with the Jamaican way of being that Usain represents, his characteristic ‘Jamaicaness’, that mysterious intangible quality that Jamaica has shared with the world that also fascinated him. Jamaican music’s influence on popular culture in Japan, for example, is remarkable. In Ghana in West Africa, in a small village called Kokrabite, I found a sign inviting people to a cultural centre named in honour of ‘King Yellow Man’. ( I am going to look up the photograph)

Gleaner: Are we better off for being exposed?

DH: That is certainly not a question that requires a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. It is much more complex than that. The better answer would be that life as we know it is different. Times have changed and we have to live in the present for better or worse. We also have to realize that there are some people who see the ‘traditional’ as better and others who see what is new and novel as ‘best’.

There are some things that have been made easier. Many processes in business and daily life have changed, providing us with opportunities to be more efficient, interact and transact differently. These include:

• The reliance of an emerging generation on social media and other means of communication,
• The ease and speed of communication internationally
• Our current emphasis on entrepreneurship, free trade and the market as important elements of our economic models; and others

I remember twenty-five years ago, when I first heard the term ‘globalization’ I was a production assistant for the radio programme called “The Breakfast Club”. Back then it was a programme that took pride in being on the cutting edge of ideas. I was asked by the original hosts to prepare for this discussion on ‘globalization’ and admitted that I had never heard of the concept before. I will never forget it because I was reprimanded for not knowing what this new concept of ‘globalization’ was and for being suitably aware of ‘current events’. Now it is interwoven into the fabric of our lives and has caused our lives to have changed dramatically since then.

Just last week, for example, I gave students at UTECH an example of how the advertising business for newspapers like the Gleaner has changed. We were discussing the process of creating a ‘press advertisement’ and how that has changed. They were fascinated. I explained that twenty years ago, artists in specialist advertising agencies would have to physically send a person to a specialist company called ‘Cherry Types’ to order the different type faces they needed, printed on special paper. Those type faces are now available in a drop down box in software for everyday use on our computers. The artists of twenty to thirty years ago would use specialist knives and glue to cut out the elements of the design and literally paste them to the advertisement, send it to the Gleaner (or the Daily News) where special bromides were made to facilitate printing.

Twenty years later the elements of a newspaper advertisement, flyer, poster, are integrated into the design by electronic ‘cut and paste through software that is widely accessible. They don’t even have to make it to the traditional newspapers for distribution of information as the designs can be posted on the web and globally shared in minutes. Some practitioners would tell us that we’ve lost the nuance of design through that process, others would say that the process is multiples of times more efficient.

Last week I was in Hanover and heard someone who grew up in that parish ask whether it was possible to get a newspaper in Lucea. It was about 11am. He expressed surprise that the paper was readily available in the rural town, as, twenty, thirty, forty years ago, it may have taken at least a day for the newspaper to make it down West. A mix of technologies – the engineering for the new roads allowing for ease of travel, more efficient production and distribution processes through automation and others facilitated by the process of globalization made that possible – and if the paper did not arrive, the news is always available online.

Globalization has also caused liberalization to become central to the evolution of our culture. It has impacted the ways in which our economic activities have changed. Entrepreneurship for example has always been a part of our history. Following Emancipation many ex slaves turned to trading. Migrants to Jamaica from China and the Middle East also established traditions and cultures of trading. Globalization, caused the ease of exchange of capital, goods, service and technologies between countries. It is as commonplace nowadays to walk into a corporate office or through the stalls on Orange Street and hear discussions about trade visits to China, Panama or other centres with which we trade.

So, the better answer is that life has changed. Some things are seen as ‘better’, other things are seen as ‘worse’. Those are calls made base on judgement. I prefer to say that things are different, and we have to embrace the times we are in and make use of what those times make available to create the society we want for ourselves.

Gleaner: Do Jamaicans still appreciate our traditional art forms particularly dance and celebrations like the ‘Nine Night’ Night’ or have we lost touch?

DH: I think we are more ‘in touch’ with traditional art forms than many might want to admit. Jamaicans still continue to appreciate and participate in our traditional art forms, but even those have evolved.

Celebrations like the ‘Nine Night’ remain an important part of our national rituals, but have changed in form. The JCDC’s showcasing of ‘Duppy Bands’ as part of the Festival tradition, this year highlighted some of the ways in which the ways we practice our rituals, Like the Nine-Night have changed. Music remains central to these celebrations of life, but what used to be led by the ‘call and response’ one to another has now been transformed into community celebrations led by complete, three or four piece bands, that are powered electronically through local sound systems. The Duppy Bands lead the music, merging festivity with mourning and tradition with contemporary times. It is not uncommon to hear people leaving Kingston to go to more rural parts of the island for a ‘tombing ceremony’ (preparation of the gravesite) or a ‘nine-night’. When my mother, of blessed memory, passed; her nine-night or ‘wake’ was held at her home in a residential area of Kingston. This continues to happen across the county.

My personal feeling is that many of the traditional activities of Jamaicans influenced by spirituality – whether Christian – regardless of domination, Jewish, Buddhist, or African Spiritual traditions are so ingrained in who we are, that even if many people don’t practice openly, there is still remnant of practice and sensibility within their thoughts and activities. To kill an animal to put the blood in the foundations of our new buildings to appease ancestors is still widely practiced. If that is not done, any accident that befalls that construction project is blamed on the anger of the ancestor at not being fed. Many still pour water or provide libation for departed ancestors outside their doors. Some may do it surreptitiously, but it is still done all across Jamaica.

Health care, community workers, the police and education professionals can regale you with stories of Jamaicans who believe their education problems, their health maladies and interpersonal conflicts are related to matters spiritual.
I also think that the pervasiveness of spirituality, and the retention of African Spirituality exists more than we can see openly. We have been taught since the days of slavery that that African spirituality is evil, dark and equated with sin. We were forced to practice it in secret and in the dark of night. We were taught as a people to be afraid of it and fear its rituals.

For me, at the risk of causing controversy, the priests use of incense in the traditional church is as legitimate a ritual as the leader’s use of rum in Kumina or Cream Soda in Revival.

This is not my area of specialization – Dr. Maria Smith would best be able to tell you about Revival and its retentions, Dr. L’Antoinette Stines can tell you more about the retentions in our dance. Dr Sonja Stanley Niaah will tell you about how that manifests in dancehall, Dr’s Wayne Modest and Winston Campell can show you where it exists in our art and museums and Dr Dennis Howard in contemporary music. What is interesting is now we have specialists in these areas. This wasn’t always so as these areas were not always widely seen as ‘worthy of serious study’. The change in these attitudes too, are also largely influences by new ways of being and thinking and availability of information brought about by the changes introduced by globalization.

Gleaner: How do we keep our traditions alive now that persons like Miss Lou and Olive Lewin are gone?

DH: I think this is a very important question. That brings us to my specific area of interest, the Creative Economy. Media and products distributed via media – songs, poems, plays, films and their production are representative of the times and circumstances in which they were produced.

My personal perspective is that the two issues we have been discussing today – keeping traditions alive and addressing the in-flow and production of the content some deem to be anti-social are related. I think both can best be addressed by making a deliberate and concerted effort to present our traditions and the positive, Jamaican, traditional values we want to see as part of our society to our people. We have to place greater emphasis on creating content that is as pervasive, accessible and attractive as the ones that society deems negative and that which is imported. That can only happen if we place greater emphasis on the facilitation of content creation – films, games, music etc that share the messages that are deemed ‘appropriate’.

Specifically I think the technology of our times, needs to meet our societal needs. As we build on the legacies of people like Miss Lou and Dr Lewin, we also have to remember both what they and our other cultural heroes and heroines did in their time; but more importantly what they represented for our time. We then need to take a serious look at the era we live in and determine what we need in our time, and what our cultures and traditions need to represent for our people in our time. We also have to remember that not everyone is ‘on the same page’ regarding what that looks like:

Miss Lou, who is most popularly known for her poetry and influence on the pervasiveness of our language used her talent and skill in the early parts of her life to traverse hill and vale of this country, working through ‘Jamaica Welfare’ with Norman Manley in the 1930s and 40’s to try to teach Jamaican people, beset by poverty and the darkness of colonialism, who they were and that they had worth.

As a child I remember the excitement of sitting in the studio amongst scores of children during the airing of ‘Ring Ding’ on JBC. Miss Lou and ‘Auntie Marj’ (Marjorie Whylie) taught us the value of who we are as a people through song and dance, skits and stories. We were so proud to be there, so excited by the technology of television but also the spirit of possibility that she provided us as she allowed us, encouraged us to sing and dance with her, and on TV!

I remember the technical excellence of a performance directed by Olive Lewin, who also taught everyone she interfaced with that what is indigenous to us is of value and worth, at a time when it was deemed inferior. Among other things, she taught us the value of work, the importance of rehearsal and the need for effort to bring about excellence. It is those elements of the Jamaican culture that are as important as the products they provided us with.

Most of all, they had the will to do what they did…they may have faltered, and sometimes fell, but got back up and believed in what they did. The practical manifestations of their traditions are important – the music, the television programmes, the poems and so on, but the spirit of the traditions that they left us are equally important. So how do we translate these values to present day?

1. We need to realize that the very nature of the ‘globalization’ you asked me about makes it possible for many more Miss Lou’s and Olive Lewin’s to emerge into public view. The technology and reach allow more people to produce, record and distribute more cultural and creative products much more prolifically than they could.

2. Both private and public sector therefore need to now look at the quality of what we produce – not only moral and ethical ‘quality’ but technical quality, depth of thought, meaning and relevance.

3. We need to create an enabling environment for our creators to do just that, so that what is now a ‘hustle’ for many, can become a lucrative concern where greater emphasis is put on the craft and the output. An emphasis on entrepreneurship is an outcome of globalization. The creative has the sometimes conflicting duality of creating and doing the business. This is a matter that has to be addressed. That was not always an issue for the Miss Lou’s and Dr. Lewins ’ in the same why that it exists now. Finding resources has always been challenging in Jamaica but they operated largely in a public service era where things operated differently and thought processes were different from this period in which globalization has ushered in the thought process of neoliberalism – that is in its simplest explanation – pervasive free market thinking. We now have to find a happy medium.

4. Globalization, through liberalization has caused us to create and build a network of conduits and content carriers in the last two and a half decades. There are now more radio and television stations, websites, blogs – you name it, we have it. Now, in this, the next phase of our development of the Creative Economy in Jamaica and the wider Caribbean we have to place emphasis on content creation – films, games, music etc that share the traditions and values, but also the stories of all sorts that represent us best.

5. We have to twin that effort with constantly reminding our creators that they have the same responsibilities that Miss Lou and Dr. Lewin took on for themselves. They did not live in the era of the Creative Economy, when the work that they did was seen to have global value and worth. We have more opportunities than they did, we must make the best use of it and not take it for granted.

6. We have to use the technology to record the traditions, but also to explain them. For example, a team I led produced an educational television programme called ‘A Graders’ about 5 years ago. The writers wrote into the script the making of ‘Asham’ into the lessons. I was shocked to learn how many people, young people did not know what ‘Asham’ is when the programme aired. We need to integrate the technology, the skills, the culture and traditions into the widest range contemporary products that this generation will enjoy and learn form.

7. We also need to tell the stories – use the media to tell the important stories about our history, our development, our communities, our people. In 2011/12 gave a scriptwriting class an assignment in keeping with Jamaica 50 to interview a grandparent and write a radio or television script about what Independence meant for them and how it affected their family three generations later. I was amazed at the testimonials. We have to tell our stories or they will die with generations past.

-End of Interview-

Dr. Deborah Hickling is a Creative and Cultural Economy Development Specialist, with an interest in policy development for developing countries, and creative work. The views expressed here are her own and are not representative of the positions of any other person, institution or organization.

Caribbean Creative Economy: The ‘Value’ of Will

Intellectual Property experts will tell us that one of the major issues facing the development of cultural and creative industries is how to ascribe ‘value’ to intangible products, services and ideas. Today I want to talk to you about the ‘value’ of an important intangible required to for the Caribbean Creative Economy to become a reality. It is the ‘value’ of ‘will’.

Carnival

A Cuban official told me during the 2012 visit to Cuba on a cultural mission, that at the time of their revolution in 1959, they found that they had a population of musicians and artists who were largely intuitive. Many were untrained. The musicians, while adept could not read music. Artistic creation occurred without the benefit of technical knowledge of structure and form. It took Cuba several decades in its post-revolution period, but through a process of training, development, empowerment, management, planning and structure; fueled predominantly by will, a nation with precious little, enduring a 50 year economic blockade, has produced artists and artisans who are amongst the world’s finest.

Cuba has used its Creative Economy to facilitate its very survival. It developed a clear export driven model, providing, through central government, performers and teachers to nation states across the world, transferring, knowledge and skill and providing expert performances. The value and importance of this model is also evident in the island state’s response to the Ebola Challenge.

In what may seem to be an ideological paradox, Cuba set up structures to closely manage each cultural and creative area and discipline. They created business-type ventures that market each component of its culture and creative services to the world. They certify their practitioners, and assign ranks to each level – creating standards for their creative products and services. The Cubans then target external markets for each level of practitioner, and organize and package each element to make it viable

Cuba has formed and forged its model quietly and steadily, but they have done it! Perhaps companies in the wider Caribbean might adopt and adapt this model using a PPP approach. To do so, however, certification must be uniform. The process must be guided by a mandate and guidelines to maintain the integrity of the system as designed. While using central government as the clearing house may not be the model chosen by all Caribbean Nations, it is certainly time for Caribbean nation-states to create their own models, choose a model from the plethora of emerging creative economy models in Europe, Austral-Asia and Latin America, to develop culturally specific creative economy models and implement them.

Each Caribbean nation must identify its priority cultural and creative sectors and create culturally-specific policy models in keeping with international best practices.

If each Caribbean government was to decide on its priorities and develop policy model across the Caribbean, in keeping with international trends, we can stimulate employment, develop value through new intellectual property and advance our perspectives and knowledge simultaneously.

The Creative Economy is valued globally at 1.6 Trillion dollars. From all accounts this is a modest estimation as it does not include true statistics for many developing regions including Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific and some of Latin America where magnificent cultural and creative output is produced but not recorded or adequately measured. It is noteworthy that the global Creative Economy grew during the last decade, even as global economies floundered during the recent global economic downturn.

Caribbean nations produce phenomenal cultural and creative output, which we have given the world, in spite of, and perhaps because of the characteristic economic challenges of our time, our phase of development and our specific cultural histories. Yet, the Caribbean has, for too long, failed to research, record, analyze and optimize the social, cultural, economic and geo-political impact of its creative economy – locally , regionally and globally. Instead of lamenting this as a deficiency, let us view this as presenting new opportunities through which we can change the face of our respective economies.

In addition to stimulating and recording necessary economic value, culture and creativity are also important in forming a honorable Caribbean society. They are tools for enhancing values and attitudes, expanding minds and knowledge, placing value on care, respect gentility and gentleness and thereby improve security, reduce cultures of poverty and address other social challenges.

We must engage with culture and creativity, not only out of economic necessity. There must be balance that takes into account the development imperatives that challenge regional nations. Cuba, for example has shown us the economic and social value of investing in training and the active development of their human resources and culture. They have also shown us the value in making culture and education central to, in fact, making culture the centre of their developmental process by policy. They did not wait on ‘resources’ or the ‘right time’. They set about a plan and executed it, employing human will.

We have an opportunity to make the changes we need to see in our time. We must grasp this opportunity with both hands, and we must do so quickly. There is a lot of work to be done. We must get this done by engaging the fighting spirit we are known for and our indomitable relentless human will.

For too long our colonial history has caused us to so compete with each other so intensely that we have failed to work together adequately in ways that will allow us to move forward. Competition has its place, but unhealthy competition has caused inertia and mistrust, the development of cliques and stagnation.

The CARICOM Regional Task Force on Cultural Industries has articulated its mission and commitment to bringing more attention to culture by CARICOM/CARIFORUM Governments, affirming the importance of Cultural/Creative Industries to national and regional development; more emphasis on developing services and seeing to the inclusion of culture in trade agreements with Third States, for example the EPA and Canada.

A few more important steps in the direction of regional progress should include:

– “UWI should develop a University Centre that spans all its Campuses – dedicated to inter-disciplinary research.
We need to do the economic research, but also have to examine the ways we have traditionally viewed culture that has hindered its development, based on the region’s history.
– The Caribbean Development Bank, in conjunction with other multilaterals, will need to facilitate a final study – once and for all – to determine the scope, size, value and development potential of the related industries. This will enable us to speak, plan and project from a position of information and certainty.
– All our National Universities and Colleges should consider establishing a Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industry by integrating their existing structures to train, certify and standardize the skills of creative technicians.
– CXC needs to re-examine its courses, with a view to packaging them in ways that lend themselves to a modern creative economy.
– Each nation must do the work required to define its ‘nation brand’ and from that we can define a ‘regional brand’.
– There needs to be a review of all trade agreements, existing incentives and financial structures to see how they can facilitate specifically the development of these areas.
– Because sport is a critical element of the creative economy, CONCACAF, North American, Central America and Caribbean Athletics Association (NACAC), the WICB and other regional sporting bodies must become a part of the process.
– We should develop a Regional Sports Calendar to increase our tourism arrivals and encourage them to linger longer”.
(Patterson:2014)

This is the time for the Caribbean to truly collaborate. This is a time to cooperate. If we were to get this right, imagine what we can achieve?

– Adjustment to existing GDP across the region
– Increasing the number of new jobs
– Opportunities for wealth creation
– The bolstering of existing jobs
– The increases in revenue through widening the tax net
– The increase in the number of small and medium sized businesses
– Deepening and strengthening linkages – tourism, integrated marketing communication across industries in private sector, public education in public sector.
– The diversification of services available in the private sector
– The social benefits that accrue to communities
– Addressing matters to do with at-risk youth
– Addressing crime – cultural interventions are tried and proven
– An empowered, directed and positive creative sector
– The empowerment of Caribbean people

Importantly, the Caribbean Creative Economy is not just about the monetization of culture and creativity. It is about making culture and creativity central to our social and economic growth and development missions. It is about using who we are to become the best that we can be…together. Where there is will, there is a way!

I am because we are

Left, Right, Left, Right – Marking Time: Caribbean Creative Economy Thoughts and Memories Jogged by Nettleford and Chevannes

I called them both ‘Uncle’. In Jamaica, that is a sign of respect in reference to male authority figures, men in your extended family circle of friends and colleagues who were not really blood family, too close to your lives to call ‘Mr’ or ‘Sir’, though distant enough to require a prefix.

Rex Nettleford was my father’s mentor long before I was born. As Stage Manager of the NDTC from the 1960’s my father was participant-witness to the unfolding of the NDTC flower. Even before I could walk, I was taken to NDTC rehearsals, a newborn in a bankra basket lined with cushions, made to absorb the spirit of the dance, performance, culture and technical theater from my infancy.

Rex nettleford

Barry Chevannes children were among my childhood playmates. He had no other real significance to me then. He was simply my friends’ father. Aunt Pauletta, his wife, back then now, she was much important than he. She was and remains the epitome of mother. Nanny’s own self.
Barry Chevannes

We were part of a small community of late 60’s and early 70’s born children of left-leaning parents, brought together and made to play while ideological deliberations took place in another room. On Saturdays, during the height of the ideological fervor of the 1970s, some of us from that grouping would don red berets, blue shorts and shirts with red handkerchiefs tied around our necks and attend ‘Young Pioneers’ meetings in College Common, learning forever the value of community, self reliance and egalitarian values. Some of us marched through the ironies of that University playground-of-ideological-privilege – left, right, left, right; “out to build a new Jamaica”.

I say that to say that politics, culture and economy were issues we in that group of young people were caused to think about from early in our upbringing.

Years later, I came to call both Chevannes and Nettleford, ‘Prof’. They both taught and guided me through my explorations of the triad of culture, politics and economy in which I argued, as they did before me, that the three must meet in the design of the cultural/creative economies of developing countries, and in particular those with colonial antecedence.

Yesterday, out of deference and duty to my ‘Uncles’ and a keen interest and desire to (re)connect with their thought, I went to the symposium put on by the Institute of Jamaica in tribute to the intellectual stalwarts, the late Professor the Hon Barry Chevannes and the late Professor the Hon Rex Nettleford. I drove past my century-old family home that borders uptown and downtown to attend discussions that put race and class squarely back on the table.

Prof Rupert Lewis’ comment early in the day quickly caught my attention. He spoke of Nettleford and Chevannes’ insistence of the parallel primacy of things cultural, economic and political. He put in context the Marxist thought of the 1970’s and the Neoliberal thought of the 2000’s in the decolonization mission. He further pointed to the need for the re-introduction of matters cultural and political to complete the current triad of policy operation – showing where culture and politics (the big P which references the ideological), to rejoin economics as consideration of the in the way we do our business.

A theme emerged in the Nettleford/Chevannes talks about four areas in which they both had interests in common. Quite simply, the stones that the builder refused have become (are becoming) the head corner stones.
• Reparations
• The decriminalization (legalization) of Ganja,
• Rastafari and
• The Creative Industries

Small communities and pockets of persons rendered near-voiceless, have been screaming for attention for these four traditionally marginalized areas, which are now, almost via natural mystic, becoming the areas of national focus upon which our economy can be (re) built.

I could not have been more than six or seven years old and remember being told to be quiet, being sent downstairs with my sister where we watched through the rails of the staircase, a video crew, with all the lights and cameras set up to interview my dreadlocked, red-eyed, psychiatrist father for the American television programme “Sixty Minutes”. It was big deal in the 1970’s having a “Sixty Minutes” crew visit your home but we didn’t know that then… it was just an exciting new activity from which we were banished… where I decided once and for all that I wanted to work in television. That television programme was used to vilify my father, it seems ironic now, for his belief in and advocacy for reparations, the legalization of ganja, Rastafari and the creative industries to become central to our growth, development and decolonization plans and discourse.

That is why it caused me to think about an incident two days before when, a colleague called me an “Intellectual Property Capitalist” I was aghast, hurt, scorched. The ‘C-word’ is a bad word for those who wore red berets as children. My colleague was joking in reference to a paper I had shared, lauding the neo-liberal importance of growing entrepreneurship, owning and protecting ones intellectual property and growing small businesses as part of the global creative economy movement that is finally getting traction.

My colleague reminded me of the social(ist) imperatives of the creative economy where development in the form of values and attitudes, developing ‘soft’ skills, expanding minds to value care, respect and community, its impact on socialization. It was an unnecessary reminder, having spent close to ten years battling through the ideological meanings of the creative economy for the Caribbean and Africa and declaring in its conclusion that:

“….political, economic, cultural and social synthesis is required in determining the form cultural production and trade will take place in developing countries”. And that, “the intrinsic irony and confounding contradiction that the application of cultural/creative industries and economy concepts in developing countries can be sources of potential economic growth and development and, conversely, cultural retardants that cause predation, unless appropriate, culturally specific syntheses are not determined and implemented. Ironies, hegemony and history have gone ignored”.

I argued to my colleague who, I suppose, was urging me to chuckle at my ideological exploration, that my audience is seeking ways to grow and develop the economy simultaneously, but economic growth in the context of the era of neoliberalism in which we live is our primary imperative, and the argument has to be so framed. Surely, I argued in my mind, trying to convince myself, these concepts of Left and Right do not mean much anymore in this neoliberal centrality. Members of your generation seldom think about these things much less care about them… Really? Really Deborah – do you hear yourself? Left, right, left right? That’s the sound and the rhythm of the dilemma of my generation, marking time in a centrist spot.

Said colleague forgave me for thinking that being called an IP capitalist was a bad thing.. and told me why..

IP is human capital
Capital is what we are seeking to build
IP is the best form of capital needed right now in this struggle
Capitalizing on available resources and thoughts words and deeds right now is what I hope you are doing..
Capital when given freely, unreservedly and proudly for transformation is the every basis of the other ideology
Capital when given over for that greater wider deeper good..is the best use of that..capital…

See now why cultural and political need to re-join economy in the decolonizing, developmental space – were you cant tell one ‘ology’ from the others these days? He told me!

Over thirty years later after the pioneering experience, after being banished from the sixty minutes set, after the ideological divide is not even an issue, whether there are other eyes that see the convergence of issues and their relationships with the current process of defining our ‘cultural and creative economy’ – the big picture.

Dr. Clive Muir at the same symposium, a business professor, speaking from Texas by virtue of the technology made possible by the same globalization that caused neoliberalism to mushroom, told us that tells us that our cultural and creative economy is much more than ‘a soundbite’.

As a writer of soundbites, I agree… but must also add that ‘words have meaning’… depending on the source; and as I learned from other stalwarts Professor Eddie Baugh, “Don’t trust the teller, trust the tale” and from Prof Aggrey Brown “The medium is the message”.

Oh how the world turns. In 2014, on the eve of Chevannes and Nettleford’s remembrance I have been called an ‘IP Capitalist’ because of my conservative construction of the creative economy. It’s quite a jolt. I laugh, and I can laugh, because I have childhood memories and bear vicious battle scars of childhood that qualify me, that urge me, that implore me to do more than many of my generation who bear similar scars have done – be content to be a witness – left, right, left, right, marking time.

So, now what? That is indeed the question.

Dr. Deborah Hickling is a Creative and Cultural Economy Development Specialist, with an interest in policy development for developing countries, and creative work. The views expressed here are her own and are not representative of the positions of any other person, institution or organization.

What a SCANDAL!: A case for preparation in media liberalization

OK, I admit it. In the age old tradition of headlines, the use of the word ‘Scandal’ is a stretch – t’was simply a play on words to get your attention – it’s far from that lol! However, there has been a great deal of upset in the broadcast marketplace with the blocking and unblocking of the ABC television hit series, Scandal from the Jamaican airwaves and the acquisition of rights for the programme by CVM TV. The following letter to the Gleaner, just one of many cries of outrage in social media and elsewhere, outlines clearly the annoyance being felt by consumers.

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20140927/letters/letters2.html#.VCbC2Vg6BUU.facebook.

As former CVM Snr Vice President of marketing, Ronnie Sutherland would probably tell us if we asked him, we really need to understand the matter of broadcasting rights before we get upset with either FLOW or CVM, and in order to make informed decisions.

This got me thinking, and now share for discussion, as it was posted on fb by Dr Marcia Forbes earlier…I think that as the market changes and the matters of liberalization of Audio visual sectors, including ‘right’s etc come to affect the consumer; that it must be accompanied by consumer education on such matters.

This issue and other related ones provide us with a clear example of consumers, creative workers and organizations still being unsettled, almost twenty years after liberalization. I call it liberalization without preparation. Almost twenty years in, the sectors still have not settled-down as there’s still a lot of ‘making it up as we go along’ taking place. Nothing wrong with that…we wouldnt of got this far if someone didn’t press ahead one way or another, but perhaps its time to all sit together – workers, consumers and media owners and managers, sales, marketing production and editorial, to examine the state of the related audio-visual sectors with a view to planning the way ahead?

Ben Brodie’s recent article about rights to shoot or not to shoot in public places provides another example of the need for this.

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20140803/cleisure/cleisure2.html.

In the same way that consumers now have to adjust to the realities of liberalized media post 1990s, following the Divestment of JBC in the 1990s. The consequence of liberalized media includes a free(er) press and many other changes that have taken place across the media landscape. Many TV workers had to ‘relearn’ operational procedures and many institutions made them up as they went along. Many, on both sides were either resistant to change or used the changes to try to exploit each other. Decent work in media, particularly among freelancers is still a piped dream. On the positive side, more independent practitioners emerged and businesses grew – freelancing became a pervasive feature of creative work in broadcasting, where that was not always the case. The structure of the entire industry changed. There are lots of examples…which I have written about extensively.

It has been argued that ‘everybody’ who should know the principles emerging from these matters like that written about by Brodie, particularly in the case of industry-people already know. I beg to differ. I teach at UTECH and CPTC and this semester have faced students who cant identify Margaret Thatcher and never watched a day of JBC TV. They have no idea about what ‘rights’ are theirs much less the broadcasters. The sectors have grown so large and so diverse that the core 100 persons who were once considered ‘everybody’ in the audiovisual industry has now been exceeded in multiples. Some older media persons, Brodie based on his article is a case in point, also need to be introduced to newer perspectives and points of view. This is with the greatest respect to Brodie, as I have argued elsewhere that both his position and the counter position regarding operational procedures and rights associated with photo shoots are not incorrect. Both are right – but that’s part of the problem. The persons arguing on both sides are not unreasonable persons – and knowledge is power.

Now the latest ‘Scandal’ shows us that the consternation of liberalization without preparation has being extended to consumers and is no longer ‘internal’. This matter gives the stations and the State, perhaps through the Broadcasting Commission and the PBCJ, and the private and public training and research institutions, as well as the privately run stations that have the capacity, (and perhaps the responsibility) to inform and educate the opportunity to train and educate the population (more) on these matters. When people have information, they make informed decisions and form informed perspectives.

Almost twenty years after liberalization it’s more than time… and it will take private and public sector make it happen. Convergence can take on an extended meaning….to the benefit of all. What do you think? How do you think it can happen? Is it even practical? Appreciate your feedback.

Dr. Deborah Hickling is a Creative and Cultural Economy Development Specialist, with an interest in policy development for developing countries, and creative work.

My Country: Beautiful. Diverse. Complex

Pondering on notions of community, finding a place and a space,….and the stream of conciousness followed:

Hope springs eternal in the human breast;
Man never Is, but always To be blest:
The soul, uneasy and confined from home,
Rests and expatiates in a life to come.
Alexander Pope

Times sure have changed.

In my minds eye I see…just five or so generations ago – plantations where displaced slaves were sub-let lots of land and paid mortgages with their time and labour and that of their families; plantation owners who came and squatted on huge plantations and miraculously became owners of all that they surveyed from Great-houses on the hill….Indentureds and runaways arriving from the Middle East and Asia with the shirts on their backs…selling lengths of fabric from bicycles and shirts for black backs in market stalls… amassing fortunes and investing them in pieces of the rock, till their 30 families own 60% of all that is owned in our country.

I thought of notions of ‘home’… and notions of family… growing up in ‘the country’ and the wonderment of what that means. It means having a ‘country’ to go home to with modest country cottages with lacy fretwork and garden plots demarcated with discarded car-tyres – lovingly white washed – with Posies, Peonies and Gerberas growing through the centre – where a rim once was. I thought of ferns hanging from pots hoisted on wire and hung from wooden rafters on modest verandas that had been scrubbed to a shine with coconut brushes and red ‘Genie’ polish.

I thought of wells dug and tanks hoisted to sustain life-with-water…. and the millions of trips to the myriad rivers with a bucket that have been made by our people. I thought of outhouses and newspaper cut up in strips and hanging from nails, softened for intimate application by the same rubbing motion taught to generations of women who hang out miles and miles of fresh, bright family laundry to be dried in Jamaican sunlight and blown fresh by Jamaican breezes.

I thought of town-life – for those who born and grow under the clock…the city of promise for many for whom rural equal prison from which they want to be free….I thought… I thought… I thought of huge houses and lavish parties, where curried lobster is served on pool-decks without the notion that someone, somewhere just opened their last bag of crackers….yet don’t begrudge the socialites…once they have worked hard for what they have got…and not on the backs of the uniformed servants with white gloves handling the champagne.

I thought of dark lanes of zinc fences, and dark labyrinths of despair where guns miraculously appear out of thin air; and yards, which have cultures so rich and intricate that they have become the Caribbean writer’s delight. I think if ‘homes’ where families of ten sleep on one bed. I thought of night time intimacies becoming a family affair. “Shhh baby – go to sleep Daddy not hurting mummy – turn you head that way. Don’t look”.

I thought of friendships, love affairs and romances that start in our markets, on buses, in taxis, along garden paths and in the big fancy offices that black people now occupy but never dreamed they could ever enter.

I thought of yard conflicts and yard triumphs. Of the instinct to keep our homes safe from common-tief, cow-and-goat tief, banana-tief, laundry-tief, man-thief, ooman-thief and the thief that preys on the lives of our young – our sons and daughters, robbing them of the innocence of their time, place and relevance in the Jamaican family.

I thought of beaches and mountains…

Misty

…and dirty gullies where too many throw their waste. I thought of opportunities lost and blessings so near, we can just taste….

I thought of individualism replacing community and blame being placed on the state.

I think of the need for personal responsibility really not being my fault….

I think of my country – beautiful, intricate, diverse and complex…and know no matter what,

Hope springs eternal in the human breast;
Man never Is, but always To be blest:

——
Dr. Deborah Hickling is a Creative and Cultural Economy Development Specialist, with an interest in policy development for developing countries, and creative work.