Creating commercial industries based on the unique heritage of the Pacific was the focus of a four-day workshop co-facilitated by the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) in Suva.The workshop, held at the Forum Secretariat in Suva, Fiji, 7 - 10 February 2012, is part of a broader project led by SPC to develop cultural industries in the Pacific, and is supported by the European Union.
In her opening remarks at the workshop, the Forum Secretariat's Director of Economic Governance, Dr. Chakriya Bowman, emphasized the important role played by entrepreneurs in the development of Pacific economies, and the opportunities that awaited them in the cultural industries.
"Through the commercial development of your skills and talents, you will create income for your families and communities, and you will also take your culture to a wider world," Dr Bowman said.
The Forum Secretariat is committed to the promotion of cultural industries, particularly through the work of Pacific Islands Trade and Invest.
On 22 February, Pacific Islands Trade and Invest will host the second Marketi Ples in Sydney, which will bring together outstanding artists from around the Pacific and showcase their talents to the Australian arts community. Creative works promoted through Marketi Ples have not only created demand in Australia, but have been exported throughout the world.
Dr Bowman also highlighted the importance of cultural industries in preserving and maintaining Pacific culture.
"Through your work, you can encourage young people to preserve their unique cultural heritage by showing them that culture can create income and development for their communities. Your work also shares your traditions with others, creating respect and appreciation of your culture."
The workshop focused on developing participants' entrepreneurial and business skills in areas such as business planning, product and market development, value chain assessment, and understanding of intellectual property and traditional knowledge rights.
It was attended by representatives of the cultural industries in the fields of fashion, music, handicraft, film, fine arts and theatre. Participants have come from Australia, Cook Islands, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu.