Mak­ing Crop Over work for us


CARIBBEAN CRE­ATIV­ITY, the kind ex­hib­ited at car­ni­vals and fes­ti­vals like Crop Over, can be a ma­jor source of the eco­nomic diver­sity for which the re­gion is cry­ing.

Trinida­dian at­tor­ney-at-law Carla Par­ris, who op­er­ates an en­ter­tain­ment, sports and in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty (IP) law prac­tice in her home­land, is in no doubt.

But Par­ris, who is pro­ducer and host of the le­gal and en­ter­tain­ment busi­ness Youtube se­ries The Busi­ness Of Car­ni­val, said a ma­jor hur­dle was “we are also still largely im­porters of con­tent from de­vel­oped coun­tries in­stead of un­der­stand­ing the value of ex­port­ing our cre­ative tal­ent to the wider world”.

In an in­ter­view with the Bar­ba­dos Na­tion, Par­ris ex­plained “one of the rea­sons for the show’s cre­ation is due to the plethora of mis­in­for­ma­tion about the le­gal and busi­ness mat­ters sur­round­ing car­ni­val that I en­counter in my law prac­tice ev­ery year for the past eight years, since hav­ing es­tab­lished my bou­tique law prac­tice”.

“Once prop­erly lever­aged, car­ni­val has the po­ten­tial to pro­vide sig­nif­i­cant in­vest­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties for all of our is­lands and have the po­ten­tial to as­sist Caribbean gov­ern­ments to di­ver­sify our economies,” she said.

We asked the lawyer if car­ni­val in Trinidad, Bar­ba­dos and else­where in the re­gion was seen and treated as a busi­ness, and if not, what should be done.

She re­sponded: “Based on my ex­pe­ri­ence in teach­ing at in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty law and cre­ative sec­tor con­fer­ences across the Caribbean, I am of the view that cre­atives from all over the Caribbean all suf­fer the same fate. They are ex­tremely pas­sion­ate and highly skilled in their crafts but pay lit­tle to no at­ten­tion to In­tel­lec­tual Prop­erty law nor to the busi­ness com­po­nents of their op­er­a­tions and as such of­ten strug­gle to make ends meet.”

Par­ris be­lieved “it is this lack of busi­ness acu­men which pre­vent us in the re­gion from be­ing able to com­pete on a global scale, though, in many cases the qual­ity of our mu­sic, fash­ion and lit­er­a­ture far sur­passes those cre­ated in de­vel­oped coun­tries”.

She pointed to stud­ies from the World In­tel­lec­tual Prop­erty Or­gan­i­sa­tion “that demon­strate that the cul­tural in­dus­tries are the fastest grow­ing sec­tors due to the rise of the dig­i­tal econ­omy”.

“Right here at home in the re­gion, there are a plethora of stud­ies from re­gional economists like Dr Vanus James, Dr Keith Nurse and or­gan­i­sa­tions like the In­ter-amer­i­can De­vel­op­ment Bank which demon­strate the im­mense con­tri­bu­tion TRINIDA­DIAN LAWYER Carla Par­ris en­tre­pre­neur Richard Haynes. (GP) hav­ing a dis­cus­sion with Bar­ba­dian en­ter­tain­ment

of copy­right and cre­ative sec­tors to GDP in Caribbean economies.”

De­spite this, Par­ris said “we are still not lever­ag­ing the true value of these in­dus­tries”.

“Due to the down­turn in many of our economies

. . . we re­ally ought to, as a mat­ter of ur­gency, po­si­tion car­ni­val as an ex­port tool which once prop­erly har­nessed can help to pro­mote fes­ti­val tourism in all of our is­lands and to pro­mote and sell our indige­nous mu­sic, fash­ion and de­signs as trad­able com­modi­ties glob­ally,” she rec­om­mended.

Par­ris also said the model where “many of our artistes are al­ready cre­at­ing vi­able liveli­hoods for them­selves in the soca mu­sic fra­ter­nity by trav­el­ling to car­ni­vals across the re­gion and in the di­as­pora year round”, was

“very risky”.

She ex­plained this was be­cause it was “based on that par­tic­u­lar artist hav­ing a hit song which is then per­formed in fetes for the car­ni­val cir­cuit for that year”.

“Glob­ally, artistes like Ri­hanna have long moved away from re­ly­ing on live per­for­mances to sus­tain a ca­reer. As you can see, Ri­hanna has di­ver­si­fied her in­come streams into en­dorse­ment deals, fash­ion lines and most re­cently en­trepreneur­ship with her make-up line Fenty Beauty,” Par­ris ob­served.

“We need to ed­u­cate our artistes to also cre­ate aux­il­iary in­come streams for them­selves and strong brands which can be ex­ported glob­ally to gen­er­ate long-term revenue.”

The en­tre­pre­neur also said “ed­u­ca­tion is one of the key mech­a­nisms through which a much needed ide­o­log­i­cal shift can hap­pen in the cre­ative sec­tor”.

“I am ac­tu­ally about to em­bark on a speak­ing tour in the Caribbean in the ar­eas of IP, mu­sic busi­ness and cre­ative sec­tor mon­eti­sa­tion. I started in South Trinidad and will be in St Lu­cia on Novem­ber 28 and in Ja­maica from De­cem­ber 12 to16 par­tic­i­pat­ing in an up­com­ing Caribbean Court of Jus­tice con­fer­ence.”


TRINIDA­DIAN EN­TER­TAIN­MENT LAWYER Carla Par­ris with Bar­ba­dian DJ Puffy, who was fea­tured on her on­line se­ries The Busi­ness Of Car­ni­val, sees greater earn­ing po­ten­tial for car­ni­vals and fes­ti­vals like Crop Over.


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