Creative Services  Heritage  ​Media Arts

The Department of Culture within the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth, and Sport has embarked on a trajectory to pursue the introduction and development of the Creative Industries in Sint-Maarten in a bid to assist in:
  • The diversification of its economy, 
  • The safeguarding of the Tangible and Intangible Cultural Heritage, and 
  • The bolstering of the Sint Maarten / St. Martin/ Saint Martin / S’Maatin / Soualiga / Oualichi’s Culture and Artistic Renaissance.

This involves working with four pillars of Culture Creative Industry
  1. Arts 
  2. Heritage  
  3. Creative Services  
  4. Media

In order for the Creative Economy to have successful integration into the St. Maarten landscape, one thing is non-negotiable: there must be heavy and aggressive investment in the core foundation of what makes and where the creative economy evolves from: The Arts. There is no culture and creative economy without the classic foundation of creative, artistic expression.

It is imperative for our very survival that we embolden ourselves to go beyond the Sea, Sun, and Sand tourism model. The new economic frontier for the Caribbean is the Creative Economy. Within the creative expression of the Caribbean people lies its wealth. Individual expressions wrapped in traditions steeped in a unique history, formed by the fusion of colliding worlds. 

As Africa and Europe collide in the Caribbean, the creolization of traditions coalesce to form the Caribbean. This creolization of the African continuum and the European presence has created a rhythm of life like no other; dense with new beginnings new paradigms, new possibilities, disconnected from old traditions and thus creating possibilities for new traditions and opportunities to be formed. To maximize the full potential of this Industry, we have to connect strategically culture to economic affairs and finance.

Studies show that in the US and England most of their foreign exchange earnings come from creative industry linked to tourism.

The ultimate trajectory for Caribbean cultural traditions and creative expressions are to find their realm in more than a cultural and creative expressive activity. We deserve to look at these creative products as economic venture, as foreign exchange income, as economic turnaround. This was a sentiment expressed as early 1972, when the founder of CARIFESTA established as one of the objectives of CARIFESTA “To promote the development of cultural industries and merchandising in order to maximize the economic potential of CARIFESTA (and the arts), for the benefit of the artists and Caribbean societies as a whole”.

Though a committed interdepartmental collaboration lead by the Departments of Culture and Tourism, we must launch a campaign to herald the dawn of a new age in St. Maarten culturally, creatively, and economically. Through strategic planning, we will maximize and monetize, with integrity and reverence for heritage and cultural traditions, our unique creative and burgeoning creative industry community. The untapped unique and underexplored Caribbean cultural traditions are resources percolating with infinite possibilities for a sustainable economy beyond the one- pillar economy of the tourism industry. We have to diversify and strengthen our tourism product and in turn strengthen the production of the creative sector entrepreneur to build capacity and to respond to international demand of product design and development.

Practically, this approach means that all activities of the Department of Culture are linked to the four pillars of the creative industries (Art, Heritage, Media, and Creative Services) and to the twelve sectors (Architecture, Audiovisual Industry, Communication & Advertising, Cultural heritage, Design, Fashion, Gaming, Music, New Media, Performing Arts, Publishing, and Visual Arts).

Based on figures of 2002 and 2014, showing the monetary value of the creative industry for developing countries, it seems very attractive if not mandatory to invest in culture and the creative industry.

2002 Creative exports world wide​ 2014 Creative exports world wide​
$208 billion ​​ ​$577 billion
$84 billion developing nations’ 40% market share​ ​$331 billion developing nations’ 57% market share

Beside the monetary v alue, there are three other reasons to invest in culture and the creative economy. These are the Intrinsic, Instrumental, and Functional values of the investment.

First, Intrinsic value or the benefit of attending or participating in an arts event, the pleasure you receive from being there; the participant benefits emotionally, gets pleasure,  or added value through lived experience.

Secondly, Instrumental value; although not directly linked to the reason for that cultural product being created, say a poem stimulates imaginative growth the inner landscape of mankind is affected by the connection to the spoken word. It connects to the lived experience, becomes the voice where an audience is unable to express itself. It is the catalyst for release, action, motivation, and inspiration. This poem was not written to do this, but it has another benefit that is not intrinsic.

Cultural Alliance looked at the arts and how the arts affect children in an educational environment. Children that had been exposed to a structured arts program developed cognitive skills 17% better that other children. The report from ministry of health of England on arts and its effects on health and wellbeing students shows that they were less likely to have behavior problems and excel at math and written language. Although not the prime reason arts are created, these benefits are gleaned from interaction in a creative expressive experience. While a very valid and valued experience, the instrumental effect does not offer raw direct financial benefits.

Thirdly, there is a functional value to the investment in the creative industry that goes beyond the mere monetary as the engagement with the creative experiences allow participants to be part of something bigger. It connects people, it teaches them to be part of the bigger collective of humanity. According to John Eger, Director Creative Economy Initiative San Diego State University: “Culture is essential to understanding the roles and responsibilities of citizenship (…) when we engage in culture and creative industries  we start thinking about our place in society, how we interact with others, we think about other people not just ourselves”. These kinds of thoughts, these kinds of emotions are conducive to the generation of a healthy and sustainable society.