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The Jamaica Film Industry - A Growth Sector for the Economy

The recent staging of the Jamaica Film Festival has charted a new course that is expected to catapult Jamaica's growing film industry into the "big times".  The event which was organized by JAMPRO,  forms part of the wider thrust by the Government to develop and structure Jamaica’s rich creative industries as a space where innovators or creators can realize the true benefits from their creations and use their Intellectual Property (IP) portfolio to raise capital or access financing. This is important against the background of a study conducted a few years ago by Dr. Vanus James,
Distinguished Professor of Economics, which posited that the future for economic development in the Caribbean is in the IP intensive sectors, with IP as the domestic capital. He further stated that Jamaica needs to invest in the creative industries as they contribute directly to the country's GDP.

There are immense benefits to be garnered  from the development of the local film industry which has the potential to contribute to the development and expansion of the National economy. Some of these benefits include: attracting major film-makers and investors to Jamaica to tap into the estimated $1.2 trillion global film-making market; the promotion of greater collaboration between local film-makers and key players in the global industry in developing and generating new projects; increasing the sale and distribution of local film and television content; enhancing Jamaica's appeal as a filming and tourism destination; and creating jobs for local talents in the industry.

The development of a viable and sustainable film industry, including the creative industries on a whole, requires significant capital support and investment and the engagement of the formal banking sector. To facilitate this engagement, policy makers must work to fast-track the monetization/valuation of Intellectual Property (IP) to level the playing field for IP to be used as a bankable asset to propel growth and development in this very important industry; and for more structure and organisation to take place within the industry. Putting this system in train will send the right signal to the banking sector that a framework will be put in place to facilitate lending to creators and producers on the basis of their IP.

Notwithstanding these challenges, the EXIM Bank has made important strides through its work with the Jamaica Intellectual Property Office (JIPO) and other stakeholders to advance the programme of developing a system of valuing IP, as well as its tangible support of a number of initiatives involving the creative industries. To date, the Bank has provided financing  for artistic works, publishing and animation projects as it still strongly supports the view that the creative industries have  the potential  to become a significant growth stream for Jamaica’s export economy.

The Bank's support of the Jamaica Film Festival is yet another tangible demonstration of its commitment to the growth and development of Jamaica's creative industries. Its  involvement with the Film Festival presented an opportunity for the Bank to better understand the nuances of the sector, but most importantly, to learn how to assess the value and credit risk associated with film productions.

Undoubtedly, the creative industries is a highly prospective sector, identified as having the capacity to generate  significant wealth and export earnings for Jamaica, given the appropriate environment to shape, direct and catalyse its growth potential.

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