On Monday September 12th, representatives from Sint Maarten’s creative industries met at the John Larmonie Center to discuss their needs for growth, support & incentives over the next years in order to prepare a program that facilitates opportunities for further development. This initiative was brought forward by DP candidate Jorien Wuite #3 who is dedicated to supporting our orange economy. An “Orange Economy” is an economic sector based on development of creative industries through innovation, cultural heritage, and economics. Within the orange economy are orange collars – these are our musicians, film & documentary producers, writers, dancers, graphic designers, painters, photographers, concert promoters & event planners, architects, fashion designers, chef’s & foodies etc.
The group of 25 attendees consisted of a broad array of representatives from Sint Maarten’s creative industries such as, poetry, storytelling, radio, education, calypso, strategy, innovation, dance, standup comedy, choreography, communications, banking, graphic artistry, galleries, movies and series development, writing, painting, carpentry, wildlife preservation, travel, and culture. .
One of the key conclusions of the debate was that Sint Maarten has vast opportunities in expanding its creativity and turning it into a profit generating industry. “In order to propel our orange economy, it was suggested that more structure would be given to the industries by creating a guild that would represent the interest of such industry stakeholders. That guild should work on a “Master Plan”together with government to set up and develop a sustainable “Orange Economy” with much needed regulation and incentives for long term growth. This initiative is close to my heart and that of the Democratic Party and we stand committed to seeing this project become a reality, no matter what the outcome of this election will be, we will continue with these productive consultations and one day bring it to floor of parliament for deliberations”, says Jorien Wuite.
Several attendees voiced their concerns that being an artist by profession is often not taken seriously. Although some event promoters support our local talents, the artists feel as if they are only paid for their performance while a lot of time and effort went into the preparation for such a performance. Some participants concluded that the country needs a mind shift that culture can actually generate money. “People see us as entertainers, and creative minds, but not savvy business people”.
Even though the sector can be organize more effectively, in order to flourish, it needs to be embedded in better regulations. According to most participants government should set the tone for a good and prosperous cultural environment.
Wuite states that perhaps more than any other Latin American or Caribbean nation, a pursuit of these opportunities would fit Sint Maarten. “Our creative companies already serve the region, and there is even more talent to develop. No draft legislation on Sint Maarten has ever addressed this subject, even though it addresses a wealth of opportunities for the future”.
The authors of the Colombian bestseller “The Orange Economy: An Infinite Opportunity” stresses the importance of involving youth to experiment with business models based on this creativity. That aligns with Wuite’s key ambition to get more youth to work – throughout the seasons and independent of the tourism sector.
“26% of our youth is unemployed. For Sint Maarten’s large legion of creative youngsters, orange industries might just be offering their dream job. I think we only need to build a bridge between offer and demand by creating incentives and collaboration. If we are able to treat ourselves with a rich cultural experience, we can do that more effectively for tourists too. One attendee reminded us how people entering through the airport were once welcomed by a large paintings from local artists such as Roland Richardson, but today this has been replaced by large commercial billboards.”
According to Wuite, expanding the “orange” sector provides economic stability too, as the global creative sector successfully weathered the recent economic crisis. “The orange sector must be explored further and supported. I would like to thank all contributing parties and participants that took the first step by being a part of the “Orange Economy” meeting and I do hope to see them again at a follow up meeting in the very near future“, stated Jorien Wuite.