By Sera Tikotikovatu-Sefeti
Creative arts practitioners and entrepreneurs gathered in Fiji this week to discuss how to strengthen their sector.
Opening their consultation, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade, Cooperatives, SMEs, and Communications, Manoa Kamikamica, said: “When we give young entrepreneurs the right support they need, we are securing our future and building a stronger foundation for your people to collectively shape their communities.”
The consultation was organised by the Pasifika Foundation for Development and funded by the U.S Department of State. It involved two days of rigorous discussions, SWOT analyses of the arts and entrepreneur sectors, open discussion on culture policy and research, and many more.
Kamikamica urged participants at the meeting to be bold in identifying what they needed in terms of training, and strengthening the sector, promising, “We are here to listen and to assist you in every way.”
The ministry has facilitated over 300 business trainings on financial literacy for over 7500 individuals he said, however, there was a need to focus on the creative arts sector.
Co-founder of the Pasifika Foundation of Development, Fatima Ahmed, said the young creative entrepreneurship in Fiji project is “based on the idea that there are many young artists with the passion and skills to go into the entrepreneurship sector, but they need support in many forms, whether financial or technical,” Fatima explained.
With this week’s consultation complete, the team will consult with their technical advisors on the panel discussion’s outcomes and seek expressions of interest for artists to apply for an upcoming exhibition.
Abdul Mufeez Shaheed, the third co-founder of the Pasifika Foundation says they want to work with 25 young or emerging artists in this exhibition.
“We have got funding for training, and we are using this as a pilot to open up opportunities for artists to be able to do exhibitions.”
The call for EOIs will be posted to the Foundation’s Facebook page.
In the meantime, a robust discussion from some of Fiji’s creative movers and shakers has aired the challenges they face, and one of the issues raised is a standardised price for arts.
According to Irami Buli from Visual Arts, the challenge is the undercutting of prices, and there should be a standard price that all artists charge to ensure the viability of the industry.
Vude Queen’, Laisa Vulakoro, notes undercutting is an issue that has been present throughout her 40 years in the music industry.
Vulakoro said, “Undercutting is always there; that’s the reality of things; it depends on the product you offer, sometimes the clients have certain requirements and you have to adjust to match them; other times they want only two pieces, then my price comes down.
“So I think you have to price yourself according to the market and don’t try to overprice yourself out of the market,” she said.
Rako Pasefika dancer, Iane Tavo, had one suggestion to overcome this challenge: “The easiest solution is for all the associations to come together with a standard pricing bracket.”
He adds, “Not only does this help mitigate undercutting, but it also, solves the issue of overpricing, and you see that a lot in the dance industry, where quality is a lot less valuable than price (for some).”