‘The creative industries in Seychelles have been neglected for too long’ | 05 June 2020
The Creative Industries and National Events Agency (CINEA) will soon be conducting a survey to identify the different creative avenues that exist here to know their different potentials both locally and internationally.
The chief executive of the CINEA, Gaelan Bresson, has said that the creative industries in Seychelles has been neglected for too long and that the economic downturn brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed the country as a whole to seriously reflect on its different neglected assets and explore them for sustainable economic exploitation which the country can fall back on as the flourishing tourism industry has suddenly collapsed.
The creative industries encompass a range of economic activities namely artistic creations, crafts, local literature, fashion, film and audio visual, live and recording music industries, performing arts … as well as the generation and exploitation of knowledge and information which are becoming increasingly important to the economic development and well-being of a nation and country.
Mr Bresson said the survey will go back to the district to know what people really want to see in terms of creativity and innovation.
“We know there are musicians, singers, cooks, craftsmen, writers among others but what are those artists doing with their work? What do they want to see in the future? Today anyone in the districts can develop a prototype of anything but where does he or she go to receive support to further improve on the prototype? This is where Seychelles has to move,” Mr Bresson affirmed, noting that it is in the mandate of the CINEA to push for this kind of development but without the necessary financial assistance its hands are tied.
He noted that it is not easy to secure adequate financial help from government to support development in the creative industry because, he says, the sector is too often misunderstood.
He has expressed the hope that individuals, stakeholders in different sectors who understand the importance of a country’s creative industries in the generation of sustainable economic growth for a country will come forward to lend a helping hand.
“Today as a young person where do you go if you want to create an app for instance and where do you seek the necessary support to develop your creativity? Who is nurturing the creativity of the youth? Established artists, what are we doing with them? Who is taking them to the next level?
“Creation is always based on tradition which opens one’s eyes when growing up and often sparks one’s creativity,” Mr Bresson pointed out, noting that today it is sad to see that we have turned our backs on many things that were part of our tradition and we are losing them all, namely our food, drinks, dress, craft, among other things.
“During the time of restrictions on people’s movement in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic where many individuals were forced to stay at home, who has not listened to music, read a book or watched a film? Played video game? If this is the case, the creative sector has proven to the individual, the nation and the world that it is there and has to be nurtured into being something that is economically viable.
“Today there are many artists such as musicians, painters, youths who are doing their own creations who are struggling to survive as their activities are not seen as one which is viable economically,” Mr Bresson explained.
He went on to note that in Seychelles today many people create a lot of things but many fail to register their Intellectual Property (IP) properly and as a result would not be recognised internationally.
“If there had been proper investment and development within the creative sector, there would be a lot of new creations by young people such as different Apps which would be benefiting the country in different fields and many local creations would have probably gained the necessary importance,” said Mr Bresson.
But has the CINEA during the three years of its existence achieved its objectives?
“The CINEA has done a lot to boost the creative industry that people are not aware of as the creative sector in Seychelles is sorely misunderstood,” Mr Bresson remarked.
“Using the Creole Festival platform CINEA has tried to push for better understanding of the creative industry and established a lot of new contacts for further development. Already several key figures in the international music and festival industries have visited Seychelles to analyse our events and see how they can assist us,” said Mr Bresson.
He went on to reveal that if COVID-19 had not brought things to a standstill, three artists who had been selected by the visiting experts would be in South Africa and Reunion Island for further artistic development.
Furthermore he stated that the Creole Festival platform was the opportunity to push forward our tradition namely traditional games, music, dance and food which are gradually fading away.
Mr Bresson said the CINEA has been pushing through the national events platform to show the creativity of the Seychellois.
He added that his dream for Seychelles is to create a Seychellois Village where our country’s tradition will become fully alive in all its different aspects from music, dance, food, drinks, games, dress…
“COVID-19 restrictions provided us with enough time to think and reflect on many things and our creativity is one of them. We had time to reflect on the different opportunities we have lost to create our own different brands,” noted Mr Bresson.
He deplores the fact that today Seychelles imports coconut oil, vacoa bags, banana chips, lemon juice, coconut milk… when the production of all these products could have been encouraged locally as there were people making them at some point in time and some people are still producing some of these on a small scale.
“Today as the tourism industry collapses, we should turn to more sustainable sources for exploitation,” Mr Bresson highlighted, adding it is regrettable that our creative industry has been neglected.
He said by now it should have been well established with a good mechanism and effective set up that work.
He further pointed out that the COVID-19 pandemic has also provided the CINEA with the opportunity to reflect on and explore other areas to be exploited namely the digital platform for the benefit of our different industries even though it has its limitations.
He is calling on everyone, young and old, to come forward and express themselves fully in the survey and to say what they feel and what they want to see.
“We have many creative ideas as a nation and this has been evident during the COVID-19 restrictions during which a lot of things were created and shared so do not hesitate to voice out. CINEA has been created for that but it is not funded for that as the focus is on organising events mostly,” he said.
“In the current situation the role of the creative industry is more crucial than ever as we need to put wind under the wings of those who are ready to fly,” he pointed out, noting that the CINEA has a lot of new initiatives moving forward.
Seychelles has the potential to be self-sufficient in different sectors namely in agricultural produce like eggs, vegetables, in fish and meat products among other sectors…
Asked if CINEA is not duplicating the role and functions of ESA (Entrepreneurship Seychelles Agency) and the NAC (National Arts Council), Mr Bresson replied: “Our roles are all to work for the creative sector. Nac looks at nurturing within arts and cultural fields where as Esa looks at the same in development for artisanal related field. Cinea will work with the ones that show commercial potential of more international nature within the spectrum highlighted by the two entities.”