Music sector gets lifeline

Written by on April 9, 2020

Karen Smith, president of the Jamaica Federation of Musicians and Affiliates Union (JFMAU), has expressed optimism that the music and creative industries will benefit from the government’s COVID-19 relief package.

Smith spoke late Tuesday afternoon following a virtual meeting with Entertainment and Culture Minister Olivia “Babsy” Grange and members of the music and creative industries.

“The tone of the meeting was optimistic, and the expectation is that we will emerge stronger on the other side of this COVID-19 pandemic,” stated Smith in an interview with the Jamaica Observer.

“We appreciate the fact that the minister responded to us so quickly, and we are heartened that she understands the nature of the crisis,” she added.

Other groups in the meeting were Jamaica Reggae Industry Association (JaRIA), Jamaica Association of Vintage Artistes and Affiliates (JAVAA), and the Negril Entertainment Association (NEA).

Last week, the Jamaica Observer reported that the JFMAU was seeking audience with the minister to ensure consideration is given to the entertainment industry, which has recorded an estimated loss of $35 million since early March when the coronavirus outbreak intensified.

At that time, Smith said entertainers were struggling to cope financially as local shows, overseas tours, and festivals have been cancelled or postponed. Bars and entertainment venues have also been closed under orders from the government.

Smith noted that this has resulted in artistes, musicians, songwriters, producers, promoters, actors, and dancers having few outlets to earn.

The group had placed among its recommendations “a stimulus relief cheque, capacity-building grant, and soft loans for equipment. We also want to have an opportunity to relook at the business model for entertainment, especially within the hotel industry, to afford more sustainable career opportunities for Jamaican musicians, especially”.

Smith said Grange assured the group that assistance can be accessed through the government care package once members show proof of an innovative product, such as expansion of studio facilities and investment in equipment.

“So, there are various grants and programmes that our members in the creative industry can access through the Ministry of Entertainment,” stated Smith.

In order for persons to benefit from the package, they have to register using the ministry’s e-registry and be a member of an association such as the JFMAU.

Potential beneficiaries can register via the ministry’s e-registry or send an e-mail to [email protected] or [email protected]


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