The British Council Bangladesh organised a two day policy dialogue titled ‘CREATIVE BANGLADESH – Hard Skills and Soft Skills’ on 12th-13th March 2014. This was a first of its kind initiative in Bangladesh that brought together representatives from relevant ministries, policy makers, entrepreneurs, educators, trade bodies and experts from the Bangladesh Creative Sector, including areas where the British Council Bangladesh has undertaken major bilateral projects: fashion, music, film, performing arts and publishing.
The event was inaugurated by the Honourable Minister for Cultural Affairs, Mr Asaduzzaman Noor, who placed emphasis on the growing need of the Creative Economy in Bangladesh to facilitate growth and development, stating 'we will only be successful in achieving our national goals when the relationship between Creative sector and economy is fully developed.'
The participants from various sectors jointly explored the idea of Creative Economy. They identified key challenges that need to be overcome in Bangladesh for home grown skills to be incorporated into a larger and more sustainable Creative Economy. They also discussed the required skills and infrastructure and recommended policies to develop a Creative Economy in Bangladesh. Intellectual Property rights protection and piracy, funding, academic support in the Higher Education sector, knowledge transfer from successful creative sectors (e.g. UK) and apprenticeships were common themes of discussion.
The dialogue was supported by creative sector experts Simon Dancey, Global Director of the Cultural Skills Unit, British Council London; Norah Campbell, Head of Skills Academy, Scotland; and Bangladesh’s lead fashion designer, Bibi Russell. They shared their experiences in their respective Creative sectors and their own contributions to the Creative sectors of UK and Bangladesh. Emma-Sue Prince, a Soft Skills specialist from the UK conducted a half-day workshop on essential business skills as part of this initiative.
Robin Davies, Director of Programmes and Partnerships at the British Council Bangladesh said:
'Bangladesh is rich in cultural skills and creativity, and enormously talented artists, writers, sculptors, filmmakers, architects participate in our bilateral Arts programme. But what they seem to lack is a supporting infrastructure that encourages them to develop these skills within an entrepreneurial framework that can bring a meaningful income, and under an institutional banner that can bring reputation, branding, and jobs in the Creative sector for Bangladesh.'
As part of this initiative, the British Council took six delegates from Bangladesh to the UK and established links between key personnel of respective creative sectors of these countries. Participants included journalists, musicians, film makers, fashion designers and representatives from the Ministry of Cultural Affairs of the Government of Bangladesh.
The delegation from Bangladesh visited and talked to personnel from prime UK institutions such as - Creative and Cultural Skills, the Royal Opera House, Creative England, Studio 2nd Floor, the Design Council, Project Phakama, The Guardian, and School of Creative Arts, University of Hertfordshire.
The Policy Dialogue concluded that now is the optimum time for the creative potential of Bangladesh to be harnessed and invested in, to be given an overall cohesive structure and to be recognised as a potentially major contributor to the country’s GDP. The British Council will work together with the sector specialists and help to find solutions for establishing and sustaining this thriving economic opportunity in Bangladesh.