Bartlett baffles entertainersTuesday, June 08, 2021
BY RICHARD JOHNSON
THERE are murmurings coming from sections of the entertainment industry following the disclosure by Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett that the entertainment sector earned more than $500 million over the past five months.
The Jamaica Federation of Musicians and Affiliates Union (JFMAU), through its president Lowell “Omar” Lawson, said in a statement that while it would like to thank the minister of tourism for the wonderful news that the entertainment sector has earned $500m in the last five months, the organisation would want to hear the breakdown of that figure.
“We have no doubt that stakeholders have shared in this rebounding. However, in speaking with our members and other local entertainment bodies -- Jamaican musicians, Jamaican artistes, Jamaican singers, Jamaican bands, and so on -- out of that point five billion only a few contractors are earning. Most entertainers and promoters are suffering; even those who partake in the earning of the point five billion are grossly underpaid and the industry is being monopolised by a few stakeholders,” read the statement from JFMAU last night.
The statement went on to say that since March of 2020, its records have suggested that the vast majority of entertainers and promoters have not been able to secure gainful employment.
“It is alleged that our local entertainers are still being displaced by persons who are not Jamaican nationals, even as a pandemic rages,” it read in part.
“Given the reported earnings by the Hon Minister, this goes to show that an industry under lockdown, which was also affected by at least two years of SOE [state of emergency], if opened legally, safely and managed properly, could earn multiple times the reported figure under COVID conditions,” the statement concluded.
Social media came alive yesterday once the story was published in the Jamaica Observer.
Many expressed disbelief that reported level of earnings was being experienced in the entertainment industry, and specifically in hotels, at a time when both sectors were experiencing less than optimal levels of activity due to the current global health crisis and the resulting fallout.
“Den a which industry mi inna? questioned deejay Mr Lexx, while dancer and choreographer Orville Hall of Dance Xpressionz noted that he needed to find employment in entertainment.
Speaking to journalists in the second city on Sunday, Bartlett said that one of the sectors that has benefited from the increased visitor arrivals is the entertainment sector, where nearly $500 million has actually been expended to provide entertainment services to guests in the hotels.
“So, Jamaican musicians, Jamaican artistes, Jamaican singers, Jamaican bands, and so on, have all become part of this, and we made a big thing of it because it is important. And I sought to get a breakdown of all the hotels and all they actually spend on local entertainment during this period. And I think that as we expand, in terms of arrivals, and the hotel occupancy grows, then our involvement with the entertainment industry is going to expand,” the tourism minister noted.
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