Creative industry in vogue among youths

The recent Hidden Kingdom World Music Festival (HKWMF) promoting the rich culture, tradition and talents of Bhutan (Pic: HKWMF)

KARMA CHIMI | Thimphu

While there are significant creative trade data gaps, reports show steady growth in some of the sub-sectors.

For instance, the film industry has witnessed steady growth while film production has witnessed a significant decline after 2019 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Bhutan Workforce Futures report released on 15 December by Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Employment, previously called Ministry of Labour and Human Resources in partnership with The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Bhutan indicated an increase in creative services, including content creation, music, handicrafts and contemporary arts.

Creative industries are at the core of economies looking to utilize distinctive cultural offers. These sectors span a wide spectrum of activities and products in the country, from handicrafts to media and storytelling to cutting-edge digital outputs.

Looking exclusively at handcrafted creative products, such as sculptures, paintings and other decorative items, an increase in export can be seen over time in the last 11 years.

Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, 2019 had the highest sales. According to the report, many of these abilities have been lost or are in danger of being lost in other regions of the world, making Bhutanese crafts unquestionably one of the country’s greatest cultural assets.

It is said that there are growing preference of jobseekers to work in the creative industry. According to the 2022 Jobseeker Survey Report, which interviewed 5,018 jobseekers, creative industries were among the top 10 industries chosen by jobseekers as the most preferred choice of career.

Demand for live streaming services is one of the new signs in the creative industry. According to the report: The conclusions drawn from the expert interviews and workshops show that there has been a general increase in demand for livestreamed content and a growth in popularity of video game streaming devices across all age groups.

However, the workforce futures report claims that one of the major concerns limiting creative industry expansion is bandwidth restrictions.

Additionally, there is an increased demand for cutting-edge technologies in video platforms to raise the calibre of videos. Data from Youth Engagement and Livelihood Programme (YELP) initiative show that there was a need for creative abilities, despite the fact that there is a dearth of comprehensive vacancy data in the creative sector.

As online learning and marketing are proving to be transformative elements for creative industries, the report states that the sector requires a large dose of the “get up and go” do-it-yourself attitude.

The Bhutan Workforce Futures also makes the case that Bhutan’s reputation for authenticity and rusticity in its culture can have potential for leverage. However, this does not just mean turning against modernity or creating a façade of tradition.

“Bhutan’s creative sector will need to navigate the tension and dynamic between tradition and modernity and the influence of globalisation,” it states.

The report argues that Bhutan’s creative sector specifically needs workforce employment-related data in the creative sector, formal classification for the creative sector, and address challenges around creative recognition and intellectual property rights, among others.

Stakeholders from the industries expressed a desire for Bhutan to build an entrepreneurial and solution-oriented culture with dignity and respect for all types of labour and also practise self-learning.

As with most emerging contexts, access to payment and financial services is key to ensuring that creators get paid in timely and equitable ways for their work.

Despite these challenges, there is a growing preference for self-employment or freelancing as opposed to traditional “9-to-5” jobs. The report highlighted that the increasing popularity of Bhutanese music across the region, more youth engagement in the creative sector and expanding interest in e-sports are positive signs.

Furthermore, the report looks at the global context for creative industries, which calls for attention to a range of factors and forces that are shaping the future.

Drawing from emerging signals, ethnographic fieldwork and foresight and implication survey analysis, the report presents two industrial propositions, Bhutan Creative Collaborative Community and Druk Pop Global based on scenarios created for the sector.

In 2020, the International Trade Centre published a report titled “Creative Industries: Export Strategy of Bhutan 2021-2025”.

In the report, the Ministry of Economy Affairs observed that the philosophy of Gross National Happiness upholds the promotion of the country’s rich arts in a dynamic and development-oriented way so that it remains relevant as a source of values and sustainable inspiration for a society in transformation.