The Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between CARIFORUM and the European Union must address problems being faced by cultural practitioners in the region, who are seeking to export their services to Europe.
Minister of Youth, Culture and Sports, Hon. Olivia Grange, made the request at a two-day forum on culture and civil society, as they relate to the EPA, which opened at the Hilton Kingston Hotel, today (July 23).
The forum is being held by the Commonwealth Foundation, in partnership with the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, the Caribbean Creative Industries Exchange and the Association of Development Agencies.
Miss Grange expressed concern about the barriers that continue to hinder persons in the creative industries gaining access to the European market.
Minister of Youth, Culture, and Sports, Hon. Olivia Grange (centre) speaking with Programme Manager (Culture), at the Commonwealth Foundation, Andrew Firmin, at a forum on culture and civil society in the context of the Economic Partnership Agreement(EPA) being held at the Hilton Kingston Hotel, July 23 to 24. Also participating in the meeting (at right) is Chair of the Association of Development Agencies, Amsale Maryam.
“We must demand that Europe implement measures for visa facilitation, or reduction. Mechanisms must be established to facilitate ease of entry of service supplies into Europe, through a reduction of the tedium that currently exists,” she said.
“The bottom line is that EPA must make life easier for the artist and cultural practitioner, whether as cultural service suppliers or under the protocol on cultural co-operation,” she argued.
Minister Grange said that the EPA must play a developmental role and gave as an example, the mechanism in the agreement for visa facilitation which, she said, could include formal registration for artists, as well as a role for Ministries of Culture.
She acknowledged that there are shortcomings in the sector, such as the need for formalisation, the setting of standards and regulations, capacity building and institutional strengthening, including industry associations.
Miss Grange pointed out that the EPA, as a development tool, must enhance and add value to the work that needs to be done in these areas. She also urged the meeting to position its deliberations within the context of the integration of culture in all areas of development.
The forum brings together representatives from across civil society and Governments of the Caribbean, to discuss how the EPA can be used to their advantage, by drawing on culture as a source of economic growth.
Participants are expected to shape an action plan for various civil society organisations to collaborate more closely in monitoring and implementing the EPA, particularly in the creative industries.
The EPA was signed between CARIFORUM countries and the European Union in October 2008. Under the agreement, cultural industries are among the first that should be able to benefit from the free movement of services between both regions.