Mauritius: A strategy to strengthen the cultural industry sector

Context
In recent years, the Government of Mauritius has been working to develop its creative sector into an industry that can become a pillar of economic growth. Indeed, the interest in the role of this sector as a major part of a developing knowledge-based economy is part of a larger shift towards a diversification of the national economy focused on the service industry. To this end a Study on the Cultural Industry has already been carried out in 2009 and the Ministry of Arts and Culture is currently working on a draft ‘White Paper’ on Arts and Culture and an Action Plan for the coming years.

Aim of the mission
The mission fits into this dynamism, by supporting the Ministry in developing a clear approach for the development of its cultural industries. This was achieved through the elaboration of an action plan that presents an overview of the current state of the local cultural industries, identifies the constraints and opportunities that characterize their main and subsidiary sectors and makes recommendations to enhance the development of the cultural industries in the country.

© Avril Joffe

Ms Avril Joffe (South Africa) and Mr Justin O'Connor (UK) assisted the Ministry in this task, notably by providing specific legal, policy and cultural-industry expertise. The collaboration notably focused on improving the service delivery capacity of the Ministry, encouraging cultural entrepreneurship, improving the quality of cultural products and improving the status of artists. This work to improve the cultural administration and management of the cultural sector will contribute to the creation of an enabling environment for artists.

Activities undertaken
During their first visit in June 2012, the experts carried out an in-depth research on the current situation of cultural industries in Mauritius and on previous initiatives undertaken within the culture sector. They notably met and consulted representatives from the Ministry of Arts and Culture and other governmental agencies, as well as local members of civil society, artists and cultural practitioners. From these encounters, the experts and national team decided to organise a series of capacity-building workshops focusing on different culture sectors, to be held during the third visit. The objective of the meetings was to generate dialogue between the main stakeholders involved and to shape the action plan so that is corresponds to the needs and capacities of the country's cultural industries.

The second visit was carried out to prepare the series of workshops. This not only consisted of logistical work but also of consultations with key stakeholders so as to ensure a large and diverse participation as well as define the key themes and objectives of the meetings. The tailoring of the worshops to fit the needs and concerns that currently exist in the country was seen as essential to ensure that they would produce a locally-applicable and sustainable action plan.

The workshops took place during the third country visit, and covered the following themes: Live Events; Audio Visual Training and Education; Urban arts and culture in Port Louis; Cultural economy of Rodrigues Island; Rural cultural economy around Le Morne World Heritage; Design, Manufacturing and Fashion; Education to support the cultural economy; the Impact of digital for the cultural economy. The wealth of knowledge and ideas expressed during these workshops was then put together into a single action plan that reflects and incorporates all of Mauritius' specificities. The meetings also helped to improve the general understanding among participants of what can realistically be done, as well as to form the core of a stakeholder network that will ensure that this action plan is carried out successfully.

Results
Over 250 cultural stakeholders participated in the 8 workshops that took place around Mauritius and on the island of Rodrigues. The strong involvement of Mauritian civil society played a key role in designing a local strategy and action plans to support the development of the country's cultural industries. Fundamental to the design of this strategy was the consensus achieved during the workshops on the way forward to strengthen the different cultural industry sectors, notably through the establishment of independent sectoral coordinating bodies. Finally, the workshops also facilitated the creation of networks between the different participants, sectors and organisations, helping to strengthen the voice of civil society organisations in Mauritius.

Follow-up activities
A workshop was held in July 2013 with 250 artists and the report elaborated during the 2012 mission was circulated prior to the workshop to have views, comments and proposals to feed into the draft White Paper. Following the workshop, eight artists representatives were elected to form part in a follow-up Committee which was held on Monday 12 August 2013 at the Ministry of Arts and Culture. Recommendations were compiled and finalised into the White Paper for submission to the Government. This Paper aims at addressing the concerns of artists and all stakeholders in that they are not being provided with adequate facilities and support to ensure their livelihood, meet market demands in terms of cultural goods and services and develop a strong cultural industry as a pillar of the economy. The White Paper entitled “CREATIVE MAURITIUS-VISION 2025” was finalised in December 2013. It is the first comprehensive cultural policy framework that takes into account the potential of the creative economy

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