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The Caribbean Development Bank has awarded US$ 100,000 in grant funding to seven cultural projects through an initiative to provide emergency relief to the creative industries (CI) sector in the wake of COVID-19.
The funding came under a special Emergency Relief Grant an output of the Bank’s Cultural and Creative Industries Innovation Fund (CIIF) to assist CI entrepreneurs who demonstrated loss of income from music, festival and carnival events that have been cancelled as a result of COVID-19.
According to a CDB release, CIIF received over 300 applications from 17 of CDB’s 19 Borrowing Member Countries. Lisa Harding, Coordinator, Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSME) Development at CDB noted:
“The Emergency Relief Grant was introduced to provide support at a critical time because the COVID-19 pandemic has affected venue-based activities and the flow of value-added supplies throughout the CI sector.”
The grantees, from Barbados, Belize and Jamaica were selected based on the potential of their projects to provide resources and benefits to a wide cross-section of CI stakeholders across the Region.
Grant recipient, Kingston Creative, whose monthly Artwalk Festival was negatively impacted by the pandemic, re-fashioned the festival as a virtual event. The organisation was awarded US$8,000. Managing Director Andrea Chung stated:
“Kingston Creative is thrilled to be a recipient of the CDB-CIIF Emergency Relief Grant. This grant will allow the organisation to host the Downtown Kingston Art District Virtual Artwalk in 2021, a festival that keeps our local artistes showcasing their talent, earning and creating new work. It is great that the CDB-CIIF has found a way to respond to the crisis in the Caribbean and support creative people.”
Barbados-based ticketing and event management entity TicketLinkz received a grant for US$ 15,000 to assist in audience building to increase reach while working toward building capacity for larger streaming audiences. They are also set to expand their service to support a wider range of event types and regional projects which will benefit CI stakeholders.
With fewer entertainment events taking place due to restrictions on crowd size, there has been a greater demand for broadcast and streamed entertainment. Broadcast production company MarNiko Media of Barbados was awarded a grant of US$12,000 to assist with the execution of a virtual Crop Over experience through its proposed virtual Crop Over Village.
Another media company, Barbados Innovative Media (BIM) TV was awarded US$15,000 to support a project which will offer an e-commerce OTT (Over The Top) infrastructure that will allow for marketing, distribution and monetisation of events, concerts, artistes and any kind of media-related content/production from the Caribbean to global markets.
In response to the challenges caused by COVID-19, Headline Entertainment from Jamaica devised an initiative which will see them partnering with CaribTix Jamaica Limited to offer a one-stop experience for online entertainment. The collaborative project has been awarded USD18,000 to develop a web platform that will provide an online/virtual suite of professional services to stimulate the cultural and entertainment industry. The virtual platform will facilitate revenue generation for artistes, DJs, music bands and other entertainment practitioners, as well as provide entertainment to patrons across the world.
Barbadian performing arts education company, Operation Triple Threat received a grant of US$20,000 to be used to facilitate the transfer of programme content to an online platform that allows for continuity. The institution will also create new online content aimed at community-building with the focus on vulnerable youth.
Recipient Belize Music Agency (BMA) was awarded US$12,000 to support its COVID relief efforts. The Agency adapted an off-the-shelf web-based platform to host a live-streamed festival showcasing entertainers who were slated to be featured on the National Agriculture and Trade show which was cancelled due to COVID restrictions. Along with the live streaming platform, a Virtual Tip Basket was also integrated which allows local and international audience who tune in to donate funds to the artiste as well as the country’s COVID awareness efforts. This incentivised the entertainers to rally their fan-base to contribute.
James Sanker, owner of the BMA, emphasised that “a grant at this time when COVID-19 has forced us to be more innovative is just what we needed to execute some of our plans to stay in the game.”
CIIF was established in 2017 with an initial USD 2.6 million in capitalisation from CDB. It is intended to be a multi-donor fund, which will support the development of the creative industries sector in the Caribbean.