• Creative Philippines: Which way to go?—department, commission or center



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    It is fortunate that President Duterte did not rush to appoint officials or create agencies that would draft the policies and supervise the process of creation, manufacture and promotion of the artistic and cultural products of the Philippine creative economy.

    The commendable presidential restraint allows for time to study the challenge at length and involve the right people in coming up with the design of the enabling government mechanism and the most effective creative economy development plan.

    Institutional weaknesses to resolve

    In most developing countries (including the Philippines), says the UN Creative Economy reports, there are a number of institutional weaknesses hampering the performance of the creative economy.
    Among the major constraints are:

    The inadequate integration of cultural objectives into the economic, technological and social policies;

    The inadequate dissemination of policies, legislation and regulations related to culture and the creative economy, to enhance better understanding of their cultural and economic value to all relevant stakeholders;

    Poor institutional capacity to articulate, implement, monitor and evaluate policies, strategies, programs and projects, contributing to weak delivery;

    4. Lack of linkages and networking among institutions and agencies; and

    5. Excessive dependence on the government by cultural and creative practitioners.

    The problem of weak institutions extends also to the regulatory environment within which the creative economy functions. Institutions are needed to support a sound legal framework, to manage copyright, and to attract investments and support exports.

    One enabling and workable institution

    With these various concerns and issues, it is now well –recognized that a country will do best for the creative sector if it establishes by law a workable and effective institutional mechanism to facilitate the formulation and implementation of a plan of action based on a long-term strategy for enhancing the creative economy.

    Some countries have approached the challenge by establishing a single department that will handle all concerns and gather within its fold all government agencies and institutions involved in the creative economy.

    This is the case of the United Kingdom which created its Deparment of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) soon after embracing the idea of a developing and promoting its creative economy.

    Another approach is the establishment of a Creative Economy Center, which serves as a platform to facilitate networking and partnerships, share experiences, collect and disseminate information studies and policies, and facilitate interactions between creative businesses. The center becomes the meeting point for creative practitioners. Centers can be set up at national and regional levels.

    Australia is the foremost exponent of this approach with its Creative Industries Innovation Centre (CIIC), which has effectively directed attention to the economic value of the country’s creative industries as a driver of innovation, employment and gross domestic product (GDP).

    Other countries have tried an inter-ministerial steering committee approach, wherein the committee conducts and maintains a dialogue with other ministries and regular professional associations and institutions of the private sector.

    Still another approach which has been tried by some Asian countries is combining tourism and culture into a single ministry. The verdicrt is still out on this institutional design.

    There are certain creative activities where a single agency is best (the less bureacracy, the better), like the cinema, in which experience shows that a single council or commission has worked to produce high achievement and spur advancement. Australia’s success with its film commission to win prestige and recognition internationally merits emulation. Many countries have a government-funded film body today.

    In the case of music, the work of academies and associations of musicians is significant and highly prized.

    New law is needed

    The question whether the National Commission on Culture and the Arts (NCCA), as created by law and currently organized, is adequate to promote the development of the Philippine creative economy must clearly be examined and discussed at length

    The law is obsolete, having been created before digitization and other major technological developments that are now integral to the creative economy. The enabling act contains a provision that sits a senator as a commission member, who has more weight than the other commissioners.

    The NCCA, in its work and program, leaves out many creative industries that are well- recognized as part of the creative economy. Advertising and design, for instance.

    No mapping of PH creative economy

    Little has been done so far to map out the creative industries in the country. There is no official count of the number of people employed in the creative economy. No one knows the value of the sector’s contribution to the gross domestic product (GDP), which in some countries is considerable. All we have is a vague feeling that its contribution is significant.

    The commission should probably lead in drafting a law or executive order that will establish the enabling government mechanism for the development of the Philipine creative economy.

    All creative industries and appropriate industry associations should be involved in crafting the new law so all interests are considered and represented. Legislators and lawyers can serve as elder statesmen in crafting the most salutary enabling law for the Philippine creative economy.

    A debate the media should join

    Debates and discussions can then follow, and the public and the media should fully participate. Then when the law finally hurdles Congress, Filipino creativity can do its thing. Jobs will be created.

    Journalists and media workers cannot be mere spectators in this issue. We must express our opinion on why this country forbids foreign investment in our sector, thereby keeping our media organizations stunted, and we must ask what the country gains by preventing the best ideas from entering publishing and other creative industries in our country.

    Surely, we are more significant than a basketball team in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA).
    We in the media must all get involved. This is about our calling and our turf.



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