BRUNEI-MUARA – Universiti Brunei Darussalam’s (UBD) Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) will be carrying out research on the employability of creatives in Brunei, to spur policy makers to facilitate economic pathways within the creative industry.

On the sidelines of an international symposium on cultural and creative industries, FASS Assistant Professor Rui Oliveira Lopes said they will be collecting data by interviewing 300 students who have previously enrolled in the university’s Art and Creative Design programme.

Lopes said they want  “assess, analyse and understand” the employability of students who study arts at UBD.

“How long did they take to find a job and what kind of jobs do they have? Are they related to their majors? These are the things that we want to analyse in more detail,” he said.

Though the research has just begun, Lopes said that it will take six to 12 months to complete, after which the findings will be forwarded to policy makers.

“It is our responsibility as a higher education institution to bring this data, outcomes, research and conclusions to policy makers so they can look into more strategies that can enable more employability among these young creatives.

Lopes said there are not enough platforms for young creatives to put out their work, yet this is only one part of establishing an ecology for the creative industry.

Other aspects include building an audience and developing cultural mediation.

The professor noted that Brunei’s creative industry is still at the stage of building an audience, which will ultimately dictate the industry’s sustainability.

Assistant Professor at FASS, Rui Oliveira Lopes speaking during an interview with the media. Photo: Hazimul Wa’ie

“It’s very important that the audience [for the nascent industry] be made up of youths because it would mean that the industry would be long lasting,” he said.

“If they start appreciating art when they are young, it will be refined over the years and be passed down to their own children. Their children will be taught how to appreciate culture and arts right from the crib.”

Citing a study, he said the average age of people employed in Europe’s creative industry range from 15 to 29 years.

This is a meaningful fact because it shows that the creative industry can support the economic empowerment of youth, Lopes said.

He also highlighted the significant economic value that can be found in the creative industry, noting how the things that we consume — from fashion, technology and media content — are all the result of the creative industry.

Based on a 2015 study commissioned by the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers, cultural and creative industries generate US$2,250 billion in revenue and provide 29.5 million jobs worldwide.

When asked how budding local artists can thrive in Brunei’s relatively small market, Lopes said that advanced technologies of today’s digital age provide artists access to markets beyond the sultanate.

“Brunei’s market is not limited to its territory and includes ASEAN and what I call the ‘Bahasa market’ [comprising] Malaysia and Indonesia, which are both large markets that Brunei can benefit from,” he said.