A recent gathering in Brazil of artists, businesses, governments and NGOs moved closer towards the creation next year of a centre that will help make creative industries work for economic development.
Creative industries range from traditional handicrafts and visual and performing arts to the highly digitalized arenas of music and recording, including multimedia, video games, software, publishing and broadcasting, all of which comprise some of the most dynamic sectors of the global trading system.
The international forum organized jointly by UNCTAD and Brazil in Salvador de Bahia, 18-20 April, discussed the institutional aspects of setting up an International Centre on Creative Industries (ICCI), which would both serve as a knowledge bank of successful initiatives and create an international network to increase the potential role of these industries in job creation and poverty reduction. Brazil viewed a growing and sustainable creative industry sector as central to a dynamic economy, said Minister of Culture Gilberto Gil, adding that the government was fully committed to taking all the necessary actions to make the Centre, which will be based in Brazil, fully operational by 2006. Ministers and vice-ministers of culture from a number of countries also expressed interest in supporting the endeavour.
The Forum grew out of an idea first put forward last year at UNCTAD XI in São Paulo, which highlighted the development potential of the creative industries. Meeting the global policy challenges of those industries; strengthening the gains derived from the industries through creative entrepreneurship and networks; and finding new sources of investment and ways to harness local creative assets were discussed in Bahia. Participants also looked at the possible economic and institutional design, governance structure, financing needs and main activities of the forthcoming Centre, and devoted one day to the broader social and economic impact of creative industries and how that might shape the institution´s policy and research agenda.
UNCTAD, which has been has been working on the economic aspects of the creative industries since 1987 and is convinced of their growing importance for the global economy, is "eager to play a leading role in providing technical and substantive assistance towards the new Centre", said Officer-in-Charge Carlos Fortin through a video message to the Forum. Other UN agencies participating in the Forum signaled their intention to provide continued support to the initiative. They include UNESCO, ILO, World Intellectual Property Organization, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean and the UN Development Programme´s Special Unit for South-South Cooperation. Institutional and financial support was pledged by the Inter-American Development Bank and the Brazilian National Development Bank. Intergovernmental institutions, including CARICOM and the Agence Internationale de la Francophonie, have also voiced their interest in joining the initiative, as did members of the artistic community, private foundations, NGOs and academia.
The Centre has been conceived to serve as a knowledge bank of national, regional and international policies and initiatives that have succeeded in fostering the growth of the creative industries and in maximizing their impact on employment creation and poverty reduction. Possible activities include international advocacy work and the creation of public-private partnerships. The Centre would also create an international network among various stakeholders in the creative sectors, ranging from artists and entrepreneurs to policy makers and academics committed to enhancing the industries´ contribution to economic development.
Participants agreed to hold further talks on the design and financing of the Centre. The next meeting, to be jointly coordinated by UNCTAD and UNDP, will take place at UN Headquarters towards year-end.