Business & Economy

Leisure and fashion, the other engines of Venezuela’s economic recovery

By Sabela Bello

Caracas, May 5 (EFE).- The fashion and leisure industries in Venezuela have gotten on board the economic recovery train that got under way during the second half of 2021 and which the Caracas government hopes will pull the country out of its crisis.

These sectors, which were among the hardest hit during the Covid-19 pandemic, are now taking advantage of the economic expansion to recover some of the losses they accumulated due to the cancellation of concerts, theater events, festivals and parades.

Those cancellations affected thousands of both direct and indirect jobs, given that – as event organizer Felix Colmenares told EFE – just the preparation of the sets for a medium-sized stage for a musical performance requires five or six companies each with about 10 workers.

The reactivation of the economy that was becoming more evident during the third quarter of 2021 really started to get going in the leisure and events sector during the first few months of this year, with the scheduling of dozens of concerts by national and international bands.

Although the pandemic seemed to deal a death blow to the leisure sector, the music and artistic industry had been in decline for more than five years, a casualty of the economic crisis due to the hyperinflation that made hiring artists, especially from abroad, much more difficult.

But the dollarization of the economy, which has become more established over the past two years, and the stability achieved by the bolivar since last October have resulted in event organizers and artists regaining confidence in Venezuela after a critical phase during which they were guaranteed to lose big money in scheduling – and contracting to pay for – events even a few months in advance.

The devaluation of the bolivar upended the budgets for such events and the agreements signed with artists and producers, who said it was no longer profitable for them to perform in Venezuela.

During that time, the Venezuelan currency spiraled downward in value to levels only a thousandth or less of what had been the case before.

But that obstacle was eliminated once contracts for such events were agreed to in dollars, with performers guaranteed to receive a specific sum in dollars, no matter what the Venezuelan currency does between the signing of the contract and the actual show.

The result has been a recovery of confidence among organizers in the leisure industry, with new programs and events now being scheduled and many new local jobs being created.

“This reactivation has gone down very well in the community and has been important for creating jobs … This (sector) is looked on as superfluous but it’s an economic activity that creates – for a medium-sized stage – some 50 or 60 jobs just in preparing the scenery and the structure,” Colmenares said.

Hesperia Valencia Fashion Week (HVFW), which was held recently in the city of Valencia, in Carabobo state, was the first event of this kind to be hosted by Venezuela and promises to be just the start of a push for an industry that had been bringing up the rear.

The organizer of this week of fashion, Romina Palmisano, said that the movement it has sparked has been “positive,” after 10 years without any similar events.

“It’s super positive for the reactivation within this fashion movement since in Venezuela we had … about 10 years without having such a complete fashion week,” she said.

Within the framework of the HVFW, besides the fashion parades, conferences and discussion sessions were also held with about 100 participants each bringing together designers and models and directly creating more than 250 jobs.

Meanwhile, designer Giovanni Scutaro, who also exhibited some of his latest fashion creations at the event, said that just one designer can create work for more than 100 people.

Fashion and event professionals are intending to take advantage of this growth trend in Venezuela, with the government saying that the economy expanded by 7.6 percent in the third quarter of 2021, the last such figure provided by the authorities, despite the sanctions on the Nicolas Maduro government imposed by the United States and other countries.

EFE sb/vh/bp

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