Music group seeks minister's audience

Music group seeks minister's audience

Observer writer

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

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KAREN Smith, president of Jamaica Federation of Musicians and Affiliates Union (JFMAU), is seeking audience with Entertainment and Culture Minister Olivia “Babsy” Grange, in relation to relief recommendations for the music and creative industries which have been affected by the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

“The Jamaica Federation of Musicians and Affiliates Union has established a COVID-19 response team and looks forward to working closely with the minister of environment, the minister of tourism [Edmund Bartlett], the Minister of labour [Shahine Robinson] and stakeholders for all the help and wellness and financial well-being of all our members,” Smith told the Jamaica Observer.

She said entertainers are 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 artists, musicians, songwriters, producers, promoters, actors, dancers, DJs, and other creatives having little outlet to work and earn.

The tourism industry has been brought to a halt due to lack of travelling as so far 199 countries and territories have reported more than 700,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus infections and more than 37,000 deaths.

Jamaica to date has 36 confirmed cases and one death.

In addition, the Jamaican entertainment industry has been shut down as the Government puts in place restrictive safety measures, such as no more than 10 individuals gathering in an area.

However, the Government said it is providing a $25 billion stimulus package to cushion the fallout on businesses and employees. Smith, a popular singer, said the federation is seeking support for musicians and creatives.

“So, while we welcome the government response with [a] stimulus package we would like to ensure that due consideration is given to our industry,” she stated.

“Our recommendations include 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 added.

The JFMAU will work with Jamaica Reggae Industry Association (JaRIA), Jamaica Association of Vintage Artistes and Affiliates (JAVAA), and the Negril Entertainment Association (NEA) to secure necessary benefits for their members.

According to Smith, her organisation will be offering a six-month moratorium on membership dues.

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