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INDIGGO conference guides creatives from the hustle to enterprise

Some of the island’s top creative minds presented insights into the industry during the recent staging of the INDIGGO virtual conference.

Themed, ‘From Hustle To Enterprise’, the event also featured corporate executives offering creatives advice on collaboration with private sector entities, and members of the academia giving titbits to enhance the creative experience.

The event delved into topics such as When Corporate Meets Creative; Numbers Don’t Lie; Beyond The Hustle – Managing the Finances of Your Enterprise; and From Hustle to Enterprise.

In the table talk When Corporate Meets Creative, CEO of In.Digg.Nation Collective and performing artiste, Protoje, said he believes creatives must understand how the relationship with the corporate world could advance their careers, while also being aware when they are being taken advantage of.

He said that creative persons should dispel the notion that they are the talent and that’s final, but instead find ways to respect and appreciate the corporate leaders, which should be a mutual undertaking.

Tourism Enhancement Fund’s Executive Director, Dr Carey Wallace, argued that creative individuals are an important asset of Jamaica and must find avenues to make the relationship with the corporate world a win-win for all.

According to Valon Thorpe, CEO of Mystique Integrated Services, while the corporate leaders think linear, creative individuals are solution-based and will find many ways to solve a problem.

Thorpe said this could create problems that can be solved through effective communications, which visual artist Taj Francis believes is also necessary to bridge the feeling of exploitation for either the corporate or the creative.

Meanwhile, in the panel discussion Numbers Don’t Lie, attorney-at-law and popular YouTuber, Rushane ‘Rushcam’ Campbell said that content providers should be authentic with the creations and do what is natural to them.

Campbell, however, stated that, from the creations, the content providers could go with trends, as they will be able to discern from the analytics, what the audience prefers.

Digicel Group’s Senior Digital Programme Manager Andrew Brown agrees that corporate leaders are willing to support authentic and organic productions, but have to work within the limitations that budgets provide.

“For a business, numbers don’t lie... the budget also doesn’t lie. Sometimes there is always tension when it comes to negotiating with the content creators or influencers because they are thinking, ‘you are a multimillion-dollar corporation, just pay me what I asked for’,” Brown said.

“Content creators are allowed a lot of flexibility in how they manage their own finances, how they manage their own process for the content creation, however, as a corporation or a business it’s a lot more structured and that structure has to be in place for that business to be successful.

“So many times it’s not that a company or whoever they are working with wants to be difficult, it’s listen ‘we are a business for a reason and it’s because we have that structure why we are successful. So deviating from that structure, that’s going to require a lot more effort on their part, to get us to deviate from that structure’,” Brown said.

According to Economist, University of the West Indies’ Senior Lecturer and politician, Dr Andre Haughton, while the creative industry is vital to Jamaica, its true value is not known. This he said was unlike in the developed world, where data are used to assess and measure the value of the industry.

Gillian Jackson, senior business advisor, Business Advisory Services at Jamaica National Group, counselled creatives to seek a financial advisor, while maintaining a savings and emergency fund stashed away.

Jackson, who is also a researcher and senior analyst, said there are many ways to finance and grow a business, for which there are professionals to advise on.

In the From Hustle to Enterprise section, Khadine ‘Miss Kitty’ Hylton, advised creative individuals that there are many ways to create a name for themselves, navigate the environment and establish their own autonomy.

“An important lesson for me was to be willing to go above and beyond, to do that which others weren’t willing to do and make sacrifices so that I could get the mileage and I could see the bigger picture.

“In the hustle phase, it’s important not to be myopic in the thinking and think broadly, so, for example, I would have done many free shows, many free gigs, because at the end of the day, I wasn’t looking at it as free, I was looking at it as this is my opportunity to get into the audience; to get in front of, to get into homes of people who would eventually, be my customers or my clients,” Hylton said.

Barbadian, Andre ‘DJ Puffy’ Parris, said creative persons should carefully chart their course in moving from hustle to an enterprise. He said each step along the journey is vital and should not be rushed.

According to Saeed Thomas, M-One Productions Company Limited, while creative persons must understand time management, delegate, know standard and know when to say no, they must now start to unite and understand each other's struggles and what they can negotiate.

He said conversations are needed at the macro level regarding tax incentives, customs, standards for industry association, training and development.

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