Colombia 2020 | TOURISM | INTERVIEW

The government has devised a successful seven-pronged approach to develop an axis of creative and cultural industries, resulting in the creation of more than 500,000 direct jobs.

Felipe Buitrago

Felipe Buitrago is the Vice Minister of Creativity and the Orange Economy. He is a graduate of Universidad de Los Andes and has a master's degree in international public policy from Johns Hopkins-SAIS. He is also co-author of the books The Orange Economy and The No Collar Economy. Since 2018, he has served as the presidential advisor for economic and strategic affairs. He actively participates in the design, implementation, and evaluation of public policies for the development of creative entrepreneurship and the appropriation of new technologies. Previously, he was director of TicTac, the think tank of the Colombian Chamber of Information Technology and Telecommunications.

The orange economy was not well known until the current government made it one of its priorities. What advances have you made so far?
We have a seven-pronged approach to develop the orange economy. The first is information, meaning we need to get a better understanding of the sector and its numbers both financially and non-financially. For that, we have been improving the scope of the culture satellite account and the orange economy. We have expanded the number of activities we follow and have been improving the methodologies so they can produce information more often. We are improving our ability to produce numbers in a prompter way and with greater priority. For that, we are working with the National Department of Statistics (DANE) and improving our understanding of local ecosystems. We have started city mapping the orange economy in a joint venture with Findeter. We have already completed two mappings and are undertaking another 12. By mid-2020, we will have a relatively accurate picture of the cultural scene and potential creative industries in the most important cities of the country together with an improved understanding of macroeconomic statistics. The orange economy currently contributes at least 3.2% to GDP, equivalent to about COP28.4 trillion (USD9 billion). It employs around 540,000 workers directly. Our expectation for the tenure of President Duque is to have a real growth of 35% or about COP38.1 trillion (USD11.24 billion). We expect to grow around 6% in 2019, 7% in 2020, and 9% in 2022 based on our observations from the sector's performance in 2018 compared to the rest of the economy as well as on the numbers reported by Confecámaras. We expect to grow much faster than the rest of the economy, so I would not be surprised if we saw the creation of another 160,00 creative jobs by the end of the Duque government.

Can you tell us about other approaches?
The second approach is institutions. The Vice Ministry of Orange Economy and the National Council of Orange Economy were created in 2018. The council is presided over by several ministries and institutions. There are another 15 agencies and councillorships that support the council. Together, we run about 70 programs. Bancoldex found that in the first 12 months of the current administration, more than COP1 trillion in credit was allocated to creative industries, compared to COP680 billion over the last three years of the previous government. There has been 60-70% growth in the allocation of credit to this sector. That is what happens when there is institutional development and coordination, and this is even before the incentives kick in. Just this coordination alone has created an environment where people feel activated. The next element is infrastructure, which is usually the mid-point for non-core areas and is related to the next dimension: industry. We have established the concept of Orange Development Areas in the Bogotá Development Plan; it consists of creative clusters or districts where we, as a central government, can provide tax incentives. Companies enter these creative areas and provide faster internet access, better walkways, better parks, and theaters for artists to work and play. We want these areas to become magnets for talent. We are strongly linking creativity with tourism to try to help rebrand our country around our culture. Then, there is inclusion. We work hard to use culture to reduce gaps. It is also a good element to reassure the rights of ethnic communities. We are also seeing growing interest among former combatants to become a part of society. Finally, we have inspiration, which is about education, and in that we are working hard with the Ministry of Education.