In this new economy based on innovation and globalization, progressive leaders acknowledge that creativity now drives global competitiveness. As a result, those countries that can develop and foster an environment in which creativity can flourish will be able to efficiently drive economic development success.
The Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago’s recognizes this new economic paradigm. Its interest in the Creative Industry derives from the obvious need for the country to diversify its economy away from an over-dependence on revenues generated from the petrochemical sector. The volatility of the commodity and services sectors in light of the recent global recession has also served to underscore the urgency with which mono-economic approaches to development have to be ameliorated. The Creative Industry presents itself as one of the potential areas to hinge future efforts at sustainable development.
The Creative Industries is defined as ‘the interface between creativity, culture, economics and technology as expressed in the ability to create and circulate intellectual capital, with the potential to generate income, jobs and export earnings while at the same time promoting social inclusion, cultural diversity and human development’ according to UNCTAD’s 2008 report Creative Economy.
The Creative Industry of Trinidad and Tobago cluster comprises the following eight (8) subsectors/niche areas:
The Ministry of Trade and Industry has been given responsibility for the following subsectors as a priority for business development and economic diversification:
The Music Industry of Trinidad and Tobago is ever-evolving and it is now ripe for dynamic, purposeful and sustainable plugs in the right direction. While there is still a mindset that local music consists only of native genres (calypso, soca, rapso, chutney, pan music and the like), there is now a new, persistent paradigm: local music can be a song of any genre, once it is birthed in the heart and mind of a Trinbagonian. As such, the emergence of strong footholds in local pop, jazz, hip hop, RnB and other globally trending genres has revolutionized the horizon Trinidad and Tobago’s Music Industry now looks toward.
The Trinidad and Tobago Music Company Limited (MusicTT) was established in 2014 with the mandate to stimulate and facilitate the business development and export activity of the music industry in Trinidad and Tobago to generate national wealth.
MusicTT provides industry-wide strategic direction and action plans toward the development of the music industry as well as guidance and access to music education and capacity development, especially in the business and monetization of local music and protection of the same.
Following in the footsteps of such greats as the Mighty Sparrow, Kitchener and Calypso Rose, some artistes such as Machel Montano, Kes the Band, Bunji Garlin, Positive, Jointpop, Orange Sky and other Trinidadian artistes are making significant inroads to achieving international recognition and success for their respective genres. Trinidadians such as Nikki Minaj and Trinidad James are also being featured in the international forum and receiving media coverage which all helps to promote the country’s brand of Music.
The Trinidad and Tobago Fashion Company Limited (FashionTT) was established in 2013 with the mandate to stimulate and facilitate the business development and export activity of the fashion industry in Trinidad and Tobago to generate national wealth.
Fashion Industry Development Initiatives
To aid in the transformation of the overall domestic economy and the fashion and garment industry in particular, the MTI through the Trinidad and Tobago Fashion Company Limited (FashionTT) launched several capacity building initiatives over the period 2015 to 2020.
One of the flagship projects under FashionTT, designed to assist local designers to enter international markets, is the Fashion Value Chain Investment Programme (VCIP), which was launched in 2017. This Programme enabled designers to be better positioned to execute their respective business plans, increase their exports and be more equipped to compete on the international market. Since the inception of the Programme designers were able to expand their sales to international markets like South Korea, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, Samoa and the Philippines.
In addition, FashionTT, in conjunction with the Savile Row Academy, also facilitated the implementation of the Ultra Bespoke Tailoring Programme and the Train the Trainers Programme in Bespoke Tailoring, Pattern Drafting, Cutting and Fitting, which was geared toward increasing the number of local master tailors, improving their export potential and increasing their capacity to generate foreign exchange earnings in the fashion sector.
Notable brand names emerging in the industry include Heather Jones Designs, Claudia Pegus Designs, Meiling, Radical Designs, The Cloth, Millhouse Clothing, add & Eastman, Earth Member 4 Life, Peter Elias, Francis Hendy, Ria’s Handbags by Ria Ramkissoon, Janouras Custom Design, Sacha Cosmetics, Cher Mere and more recently, Anya Ayoung Chee, winner of Season 9 of the “Project Runway” Lifetime TV programme.
Trinidad and Tobago’s Film Industry emerged in the late 1950s and by the late 1970s there was a small amount of local productions, which included both feature films and television programmes. Trinidad and Tobago boasts of unique country features and an ideal geographic location. In this regard, Trinidad and Tobago possesses substantial resources for the production of feature films such as a variety of contrasting location sites all within close proximity to one another as well as experienced production crews. As a result of these resources, over a period of almost sixty years a number of international feature films have been shot on location in Trinidad and Tobago in spite of other more competitive locations in the Caribbean Region. Improvements in technology specifically the advent of low cost high definition video cameras in the 21st Century, has led to the production of several local feature films in Trinidad and Tobago.
Some of these feature films include:
- “Heavens Knows Mr. Allison” Robert Mitchum, Deborah Kerr (1957);
- “Fire Down Below” Robert Mitchum, Rita Haywood (1957);
- “Swiss Family Robinson” John Mills, Dorothy Mc Guire (1960);
- “Gold of the Amazon Women” (1979);
- “The Last Island” (1991);
- “The Phoenix and the Magic Carpet” Peter Ustinov (1995);
- “Angel in a Cage” (1998);
- “The Mystic Masseur” (2001);
- “Calypso Dreams” (2002)
- “Contract Killers” (2008)
- “Home Again” Tatyana Ali (2012)
- “Girlfriends’ Getaway” (2014)
SUPPORT FOR THE SECTOR
The Ministry of Trade and Industry incorporated the Trinidad and Tobago Creative Industries Company on the 18th of July 2013 with a mandate to stimulate and facilitate the business and export development of the Creative Industry in Trinidad and Tobago to generate national wealth.
Waiver of Customs Duty and VAT on imported production equipment
In an effort to create an enabling environment which encourages international film producers to select Trinidad and Tobago as a destination of choice, the Government has provided an incentive which allows international film producers to temporarily import their equipment without having to pay Customs Duty and VAT or post a bond.
The provision of this incentive requires Cabinet approval. As a result, the following information is required by the FilmTT from the film producer in a timely manner (at least two months) to allow the incentive to be processed on time:
- The name of the production company
- The title of the film to be produced
- A list of all equipment to be imported
- The value of the equipment to be imported
Film Production Expenditure Rebate Programme
Since 2006, the Government of Trinidad and Tobago through the Trinidad and Tobago Film Company (FilmTT) has provided a Production Expenditure Rebate Programme. The rebate includes refunds for local services related to the rental of local equipment, accommodation, transportation, police, fire and ambulance services, local travel, location fees and local cast and crew.
Corporate Tax Deduction for Philanthropy and Investment in the Audio Visual Sector
Trinidad and Tobago offers a Corporate Tax Deduction incentive exists whereby in a year of income, a production company or sponsor of a production incurs expenditure in respect of audio, visual or video productions for educational purposes or promoting or reflecting local entertainment or local culture for use in radio, television or cinematograph works, would be allowed as a deduction in ascertaining the chargeable profits of the company for that year of income, an allowance equal to 150% of the actual expenditure incurred in making such productions up to a maximum of twelve million dollars.