Let’s keep to the theme of culture and look at current events going on in the Cook Islands and their new National Culture Policy initiated by the Ministry of Cultural Development (MOCD).
The Cook Islands News reported that at this time the policy addresses four strategic goals, which will introduce a number of significant changes that are expected to be noticed from this year onward.
An imperative for the MOCD is to ensure that the cultural industry becomes officially established and recognized as an economic driver for the Cook Islands. Currently, this is being done haphazardly, with no known official information about the industry, and at this stage of development stakeholders will need to rally together to set systems that will establish and promote the industry.
Furthermore, indigenous Cook Islanders will be encouraged to be creative by diversifying to meet market demand and sourcing markets that will generate the most substantial return, all while being mindful of the environment.
During this time, the practice of using native history and arts will be established as a platform for servicing new, innovative and fast-changing markets.
Artworks will be integrated as marketable products and the MOCD will ensure that they are protected against counterfeits and pirates through official branding and careful product promotion. To achieve the best possible outcomes for the industry, systems and infrastructures are to be continuously improved.
The first of the four strategic goals that aim to make this a reality is to grow the popularity of the market, which will first be directed towards locals to sell genuine cultural products. The Business Trade Investment Board (BTIB), Cook Islands Tourism, and Climate Change Cook Islands will identify markets interested in Cook Islands products, and the possibility of providing tax exemptions for businesses who supply genuine cultural products will be explored. Arts and crafts shops will also be accredited.
Being innovative with cultural products is the second strategic goal, with the first directive being to utilize the various art forms as a basis to diversify into new products. Research will be carried out to assess market demand, products’ resilience to climate change, and the tastes and preferences of the consumer. This information will be provided to potential suppliers, in addition to programs that will expose them to various markets providing similar products.
Growing and promoting cultural products is the third strategic goal, with the primary focus on seeking out markets. MOCD will conduct a feasibility study on the possibility of a cultural village at the Punanga Nui markets for the display and promotion of tangible and intangible Cook Islands products. A technology program will be instituted for the marketing of products, and the Pa Enua (outer islands) will be included in a chain of cruise boats as a means to stimulate the economy and industry.
Lastly, the fourth goal of balancing supply and demand will be achieved in part by establishing and accepting a realistic level of market supply without compromising the environment. Information about our products must be made available to increase the understanding and appreciation of the uniqueness, authenticity, quality and organic nature of the products being sold. Standards of quality will also be established, and products will be branded as a way to separate them from mass-produced items of a similar ilk.
All of the above strategies will be monitored and evaluated for their effectiveness, and will be amended if necessary.