The Caribbean Institute is Conducting an Assessment of Cuba’s Culture Economy

The Caribbean Institute is Conducting an Assessment of Cuba’s Culture Economy

The Caribbean Institute for Sustainable Development defines the culture economy as “that segment of the economy that pertains to the production and marketing of cultural goods and services.” Sectors of the culture economy include the performing, visual, and plastic arts as well as the heritage and historical legacies of communities. The culture economy is a key employer and contributor to GDP. A important component of social and educational development and resilience worldwide, the culture economy is also a large and rapidly growing part of international trade.

Across the world there is an increasing awareness of the economic importance of culture. As a result, a growing number of governments have been developing policies and programs to support growth in the culture economy. These have included training and employment policies and business regulations to promote cultural goods and services. Many categories of business such as tourism, music and entertainment, restaurants, and the movie industry are driven by -and are actually part of- the culture economy.

Unfortunately, in most countries information about the culture economy is usually fragmented and incomplete.   The impact of culture policies is therefore often not fully understood, investment opportunities are overlooked, and cultural integrity is often compromised. Thorough and complete Culture Economy Assessments (CEA’s) are rare because methodologies have not been comprehensive enough to be widely useful. Nonetheless, understanding any country’s culture economy is important because it is a key driver of economic growth. The Caribbean Institute combines an economic value chain approach with frameworks reviewed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to create a thorough, comprehensive CEA methodology. The Caribbean Institute is using a comprehensive value chain culture economy assessment methodology to assess Cuba’s culture economy.

Understanding Cuba’s culture economy is particularly urgent right now because of five key reasons:

First, Cuba is currently liberalizing its economy, and private enterprise is allowed more in its culture sector than in other sectors of the economy. Changes in the culture economy are therefore an important indicator of changes in private sector development.

Secondly, understanding the culture economy is important to strengthening GDP, so tracking changes in Cuba’s culture economy is necessary to understand the impact that changes in US trade and economic relations is having Cuba’s GDP and on Cuba’s private sector.

Thirdly, The Caribbean Institute’s value chain approach to assessing Cuba’s culture economy will allow policy makers and investors to determine not only what happens to value at each step in the production of cultural goods and services, but also the location and nature of bottlenecks to value growth along the chain. This informs those who are interested in developing Cuba’s private sector and its economy.

Fourth, the US Administration’s policy to make as much progress toward lifting the embargo toward Cuba this year requires an ability to track the impact of increased US business engagement on the Cuban economy. The Cuba CEA will not only provide baseline now, as US policy changes begin to take effect, but also longitudinal data and analysis that will permit an understanding of their impact on the Cuban economy and the private sector over time. These are critical questions for the policy reviews that will be necessary over the next year and beyond, and for which data need to be collected now.

Finally, the CEA will provide clear insights into how exposure to US and international markets has an affect on the economics of Cuba’s cultural industries. US demand for Cuban cultural services and products, the tastes of international consumers, and the economic strength of global financial institutions will affect Cuba’s culture economy and, by extension, Cuban cultural expression.

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